Why Retail Media Networks Should Support BIPOC-Owned Publishers
In the past few years, both brands and retailers have worked toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals by reallocating budget to support diverse-owned businesses on both the media publisher side and the media buyer side.
Retail Media Has a Stake in the Game as Media Owners
Retail media is the fastest-growing segment of digital advertising. It will account for over 25 percent of total digital spend by 2026, innovating rapidly despite the fluctuating economy. By 2023, retail media will account for more than one in six ad dollars. Retail media networks have announced a variety of efforts to support diverse-owned businesses, as this is a priority for brands and retailers alike.
Target created economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses by committing to spend $2 billion by 2025 — inclusive of the brands it sells, as well as spending with suppliers and building resources for entrepreneurs. Roundel launched a media fund to offset the cost of marketing programs, awarding $25 million to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)-owned brands.
Best Buy’s in-house media company released a five-year plan to address underrepresentation and technology equities by dedicating 10 percent of annual media spend to BIPOC media by 2025. Access to retail capabilities, such as supply chain, sourcing and product development, will be provided.
Instacart created an ads initiative designed to support underrepresented, emerging brands (e.g., women and Black owned) directly within the platform by offering self-service and managed ad services for entrepreneurs and brands looking to be discovered and grow.
There has been progress, but there’s more work to be done.
Why is This Important to Address?
According to the Dentsu Navigator report released in May 2022, 89 percent of people felt that media had an impact on shaping culture.
Consumers expect brands to address societal issues directly and want companies to live their core values. Marketers should continue to support and listen to diverse employees to create internal values and systems that guide external actions. As retailers are now media owners, there's an imperative to work with publishers and monetization leads that will shape ad products in a way that will authentically resonate with BIPOC audiences.
Authentic action is key. Thirty-seven percent of Americans believe support is business driven, but there are ways to incorporate commitments through meaningful contributions, such as donations, community outreach, program partnerships, supplier diversity, incorporation of tentpole DEI moments (e.g., Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month), and ensuring that community outreach is supported to incorporate values in a media plan.
Retail Media Buyers Should Think About Reaching Diverse Consumers
Based on research from SheRunsIt, the multicultural majority will be a reality for the American population under 35 years old as soon as 2023. This age group includes Gen Z and Gen Y, representing $2.65 trillion in combined spending power. Though 100 percent of the U.S. population growth comes from multicultural segments, only 7 percent of total advertising spend accounts for multicultural media investment. Larger brands are starting to have investment goals toward spending with diverse publishers, and having options within retail media will help achieve this goal.
Methods for buying media that reaches audiences reflecting the true composition of the U.S. population are limited but more readily available than in the past. Advertisers and partnering agencies recognize the importance of improving addressability and fostering a 100 percent human connection through media and creative.
The Trade Desk, which built Walmart’s demand-side platform (DSP), is a good example of how partnering with diverse suppliers benefited both buy-side and sell-side offerings. Inventory is available across display, video and connected TV (CTV) channels through partnerships with minority-owned publisher Colossus, which has its own library deal in The Trade Desk platform. It also offers BIPOC-focused content that supports reaching and resonating with diverse audiences. These partners are supported by the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
Other opportunities exist in Amazon Advertising and Walmart Connect, which prioritize reaching the Hispanic/Latinx communities through Spanish-language content and creative through managed service buys (share-of-voice takeover, DSP, offsite). However, it's not confirmed whether diverse-owned suppliers power this.
Why Retail Media Networks Should Double Down on Efforts
With the economic downturn impacting the wider media landscape, it's crucial for retail media networks to build out ad solutions that include supplier diversity as a long-term road map strategy.
Dentsu’s Mark Prince, senior vice president, head of economic empowerment, said, “Diversifying the media supply chain is key to creating authentic ways to purchase and empower BIPOC-owned media to deliver more equitable investment.”
Recently, BIPOC media owners have been very vocal about the inequities in media buying and have pushed agencies and brands to take more action to be more inclusive in their media investments.
Creating better opportunities to reach diverse consumers and investing in BIPOC-owned publishers should be intentional decisions to champion meaningful change. Economic inclusion is a comprehensive practice — just as important as other disciplines within media. The current climate demands brands to meet consumers where they are, with accountability, results and solutions. This will help in building wealth, increasing representation in communities, and engaging beyond investment to propel strategic changes.
Mika Takahashi is an eRetail director at Merkle within the Performance Media group. She specializes in retail media and ensuring subject matter support is provided for clients navigating this ever-developing space, providing thought leadership for the growing practice at Merkle.
Related story: A Look Inside Nordstrom's Retail Media Network
Mika Takahashi is an eRetail Director at Merkle within the Performance Media group and has been a part of the wider dentsu network for the majority of her career since 2014. She specializes in retail media and ensuring subject matter support is provided for clients navigating this ever developing space, providing thought leadership for the growing practice at Merkle.
Mika is a global citizen of the world, and has worked in the UK and EMEA region as well as in the US, and frequently engages with global counterparts in various Merkle markets. She is also a passionate DEI leader within dentsu, and co-leads the employee business resource group (BRG), Asian@Dentsu, championing BIPOC employees and supporting safe spaces for members.
In her spare time, she is a keen runner and most recently completed the London Marathon in October 2021.