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Ad Agencies Are Creating New Platforms To Funnel Ad Dollars To Multicultural Media.

One of the things that 2020 will be remembered for is how many big brands have taken a hard look at how they are spending their marketing dollars and deciding not enough was going toward reaching the Black and Hispanic communities. Now, two of the biggest ad agencies are taking steps to help bring that change to life. It is a move that could mean new sales opportunities for not only minority-led companies, but other broadcasters who put programming on the air directed toward those audiences.

GroupM, the media division of ad giant WPP that includes shops like Mindshare and Mediacom, is one of radio’s largest national advertising buyers. In that spirit of racial reckoning, it has just launched a unit to help grow the list of Black and Hispanic media outlets that are part of its buys. The GroupM Multicultural Marketplace is a programmatic platform that has gone live with more than 300 online properties targeting minority audiences. Agency reps told Inside Radio that while the launch is primarily focused on dot-com properties, there is a potential to expand into other categories including audio. “That’s the beauty of this marketplace, it will expand with demand and new to-be-discovered properties,” an agency spokesman said.

GroupM said Tuesday that its goal is to create a diverse marketplace with the ambitious goal of convincing all clients to participate in it within the next six to 18 months.

Susan Schiekofer, Chief Digital Investment Officer at GroupM, said at times, the “value” of media is often distilled to just how efficiently it performs with metrics like audience engagement and content relationships overlooked in the process. That is especially true in a price-driven environment, she noted, but said the Multicultural Marketplace aims to correct that.

“The current and future marketplace demands an accountable, accessible-now, and focused investment strategy that better balances efficiency, engagement and effectiveness in reaching the Black and Hispanic communities,” said Schiekofer. “The GroupM Multicultural Marketplace is our mechanic to achieve greater equity, while supporting the voices, content and editorial written for, by and/or owned by these communities.”

The new marketplace expands in-progress initiatives underway at GroupM. Earlier this year Mindshare created a private marketplace for advertisers looking to reach the LGBTQ community and last month GroupM became the first holding company to join a programmatic initiative designed to drive clients’ ad dollars to local news publishers.

The agency said the new Multicultural Marketplace will take into account the fact that many Black and Hispanic media are under financial pressure due to the consolidation of digital spending around giant platforms and that these companies are often overlooked due to perceived complexities of buying them in a non-automated environment. GroupM’s new marketplace will determine its buys based on a proprietary 20-point eligibility criteria. “Our Multicultural Marketplace will allow clients to plan and buy Black and Hispanic owned or focused media in an automated way, including programmatically, directly and at scale,” said Gonzalo del Fa, President of GroupM Multicultural.

Meanwhile, Havas Media Group is taking a similar path. It has launched its own programmatic marketplace that will focus on social equity that will target investment into Black, Hispanic, Native American and LGTBQ owned media businesses. Havas says it too wants to funnel dollars into underrepresented businesses.

“In a time where consumer and client sentiment is focused on social action in many forms, we felt it was important to launch a product that allows clients to take positive actions with their media spend as desired,” said Havas CEO Peter Mears. “Our role is to advise clients of the opportunity to support these businesses in a system that previously did not make it easy for brands to support minority-owned companies. Today, it’s just as important where a brand shows up as what they have to say.”

Mears said the new marketplace stems from Havas Media Group’s core mission to understand the most “meaningful media” for a client with a focus on the media channels, moments, and brands that really move consumers to action. Media that is trusted, engaging, and influential has the best chance of helping brands reach an engaged audience, the agency said in its announcement.

“We do not believe that all impressions are created equal,” Mears said. “We also see that it is our duty to provide clients with alternative routes to reaching and engaging consumers if media spend is divested from one platform or partner into another.”

Havas said the rollout will begin in the U.S. with two clients – Michelin and Moen – among the first brands to commit to using the marketplace. A rollout to international markets is planned for later this year.

“This is just one step we are taking within our own business,” said Mears. “We have more work to do as an agency and industry when it comes to diversity and equity.”

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