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  • McKenna Sweazey

Think your ads are reaching African American consumers? Think again…

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Brands are making great strides in being more thoughtful in reaching multicultural audiences, but what does that mean in practice?

We looked at an assortment of advertising segments purported to be African Americans across the 3rd party data ecosystem. According to our accuracy scoring method, the rate at which these segments accurately identified/reached African American audiences ranged from .12 to .66. And the average was .27. That means, on average, for every dollar spent targeting an African American consumer (using these segments), 73 cents was spent reaching a non-African American consumer.

According to Nielsen, in their report on multicultural advertising, “From 2011 to 2019, the biggest advertisers upped their spend on media that are popular with African-Americans roughly in line with inflation, with the total reaching $3.86bn last year. That figure makes up a mere 2% of the $200bn total US ad spend.”[1]

If this figure includes using 3rd party data to target African American Audiences, that’s a LOT of wasted dollars and even more wasted opportunity to reach the right individuals to hear the right message.

Brands say they are looking to be more equitable in their advertising, but for many this is more of a box-ticking exercise, selecting African American 3rd party segments without being able to question if those segments are actually accurate. African Americans make up 13.4% of US consumers, but only are targeted by 1.4% of advertising spend.[2] It may be likely that this stat dramatically over-estimates the amount of African American targeting happening if we account for data quality. Some brands, like Publicis, are taking great care to make their marketing more equitable but are running into technological roadblocks.

How did we figure out these numbers and how can the industry do better?

Truthset is a data intelligence company focused exclusively on validating the accuracy of consumer data. Truthset uses a Wisdom of the Crowds methodology to compile a likelihood of truth for any individual record that can be used to validate the accuracy of data and power more accurate consumer interactions, called a Truthscore ™ . This Truthscore can be used to select and improve segments from 3rd party providers for most demographic attributes, not just age and gender.

This scoring allows us to look at different segments and understand where brands may be missing the mark on reaching their target audiences. Given the cultural sensitivity of multicultural audiences and the value brands are placing on being more equitable in their advertising, we want to help them find the most valuable segments to target.

In general, marketers should be careful to work with reputable data providers. Better yet, they can use Truthset to pre-select accurate segments, optimize during the campaign, and measure after to ensure the right audiences were found. Contact us to find out how.

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