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How advertisers have invested in Black-owned media—checking in on their pledges

How advertisers have invested in Black-owned media—checking in on their pledges
Written by publishing team

“We are pleased and continue to be impressed with the levels of interest and commitment that BNC and BNC GO derive from agencies and brands, many of which are intentionally reaching out to black consumers for the first time,” said David Fitzpatrick, chief executive. Vice President and Head of Revenue at Black News Channel. “Every brand needs to show growth, and it seems like after decades of largely ignoring the audiences we serve on a daily basis, companies now view us as a priority demographic,” he said.

The 24/7 news network, which launched in early 2020, reported strong interest during its pre-show presentations in 2021, with Fitzpatrick telling Ad Age at the time that demand was at the time “exceeding our expectations for the startup network.” .”

“This is the first year that we’ve really had strong agency leaning, strong agency endorsement, and commitment” to broadcast the lifetime of telecom advertising, Lynwood Pepins, founder and CEO of ReachTV out-of-home media, said in December. He added that 2021 marks the first official presentation given to ReachTV.

“And I’ll tell you, it’s a huge difference because I now have predictable returns,” said Pepins. “Now I can start original programming, and now I can do certain things because I know what my earnings are going to be. And that’s the advantage when you bring black owned media into this and give them a chance to predict their revenue, then they can build their business. That’s why it’s so important.”

The Black-owned company, which operates nearly 2,500 TV screens at airports across North America and the UK, had a successful year by almost every measure. In June, Bibbens struck a major deal with IPG’s Magna to bring sponsorship and integration opportunities to its clients. It also struck a deal with NBCUniversal that brings ReachTV to the media giant’s platform for advertisers.

But while leaders in black-owned media appear to have seen a collective surge of advertiser interest in 2021, there is still a lot of work to be done, and at least one prominent advocate believes that many of these promises are insufficient.

Make up for lost time and money

“They are all backward and all guilty. None of their numbers are untenable,” media mogul Byron Allen, who has been one of the ad industry’s most vocal critics, said of brand and agency pledges.

In March, Allen, CEO of Allen Media Group and owner of The Weather Channel along with cable networks and other media assets, issued letters of intent to several US brands and their ad agencies calling on them to invest at least 2% of their marketing budgets in the media. Black owned or facing legal action.

It’s a promise Allen has kept on at least one occasion, launching a $10 billion lawsuit against McDonald’s in May on the grounds that it systematically discriminates against black-owned media companies. He also publicly called for the fast-food chain to fire CEO Chris Kempinski after releasing insensitive text messages between him and the mayor of Chicago. But a California judge dismissed the lawsuit in late 2021.

In May, McDonald’s promised to double its US investment in diversified owned media companies, production stores and content creators by 2024. Over the next four years, it plans to increase its advertising spending in the United States through Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Female, and Gay platforms. and bisexual and transgender people from 4% to 10%.

Most of the pledges made by media companies over the past year, Allen said, are small steps and not enough. “Blacks are 13% to 14% of the population, we should have at least 15% of your budget for all the years we excluded, for all of the zero years,” Allen said. “And pay me more than white men for all the years you didn’t pay me.”

As far as Allen is concerned—and in line with the wording of investment pledges by many advertisers—companies should invest primarily in black-owned media, rather than in black-targeted media, which in many cases enjoys greater reach but is often not member-led. The communities they serve are at the top.

Lewis Carr, head of media sales for BET Networks, which is owned by ViacomCBS and ranks among the largest – but not owned – black media companies in the United States.

(BET was previously a black-owned company bought by ViacomCBS, then Viacom, 20 years ago), said Carr, referring to a brand whose day-to-day operations are run by a majority black workforce, and that shows content targeting African Americans.

And despite the company’s lack of “black-owned discrimination,” Carr adds, advertisers have continued to rely on and recognize the value of black-targeted media, “not just from an optics standpoint, but from a revenue standpoint.”

The network sold out its ad inventory at the annual BET Awards in record time, adding 10 new advertisers to the mix.

High tides do not necessarily float all ships

While Native American-owned and serving black media companies largely report that advertisers are maintaining a healthy pace with their past investment pledges, the same can’t always be said for black-owned local and regional outlets in the United States, many of them say They have never seen renewed interest from brands in the past 18 months.

“Unfortunately…there was nothing new with the brands.” Tracy Williams Dillard, publisher and CEO of Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest, black-owned newspaper, said.

Founded in 1934 by Williams Dillard’s grandfather, the storied weekly is headquartered in Minneapolis, which became the center of the Black Lives Matter movement after the police killings of George Floyd and Philando Castile in 2020 and 2016 respectively.

It’s also a major corporate hub, with the larger Twin Cities district hosting the headquarters of Best Buy, Target, General Mills, 3M, and many more. And those companies have not been silent about their goals for diversity, equity and inclusion; In June, Best Buy pledged to transfer nearly 10% of its advertising dollars to BIPOC media by 2025, while the latter two – both GroupM customers – publicly signed the agency’s pledge of a minimum media investment of 2% in the same month.

“We’ve decided that one other avenue for further discussion is to contact some companies, some local companies,” said Williams Dillard. “So far, again, nothing. Crickets.”

The somewhat stagnant advertiser growth of The Spokesman-Recorder was not due to a lack of trying, as the newspaper’s ad sales team confirmed that they had tried to contact and strike deals with several brands or their ad agencies, and during initial talks between the newspaper and at least two US agencies, what They still have to secure a lot of fixed advertising commitments.

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