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Six steps for ‘intentional’ media strategies
“Intentional” media strategies can help overcome long-standing biases by focusing on issues like “human safety”, inclusive innovation and building progressive partnerships.
That’s according to Rachel Lowenstein, global head of inclusive innovation at media agency Mindshare.
“Media buying is not just transactional anymore,” she said at a media summit in New York*. “Every decision that we make as an industry has very material impacts on the real world.”
Why it matters
Media planners and buyers have the power to effect tangible social change with their decisions. Supporting media that's owned and run by diverse communities, and withdrawing funds from those not committed to enhancing inclusion and equity, are demonstrations of this influence in action.
The six principles
While noting that every brand operates in a unique context, Lowenstein outlined some general principles which have shaped intentional media choices at Mindshare:
- Morals matter: “Broadly speaking … moral decisions and business decisions cannot be decoupled today; they are fundamentally, intrinsically linked,” she said. “Consumers are demanding that, but we also know that more and more sources of growth will come from diverse people.”
- Economic muscle: “We also firmly believe media has the economic weight to manifest change. Creative messages are incredibly important, but they're only half of the equation.”
- Human safety: “Brand safety must be inclusive of human safety,” Lowenstein added. “I think a lot of the ways that the brand safety industry has talked about protecting brands online has unfortunately, and not intentionally, ignored the human impact of a lot of editorial content.”
- A broad approach: This shouldn't be implemented in an isolated way, she said, because isolated change brings isolated impact. “We need to be as broad as possible when applying these ideas.”
- Inclusive innovation: This is an enhancement to media, not a departure from it. “I oftentimes say my job title of ‘inclusive innovation’ is very purposeful and intentional. If you're thinking about innovation, inclusion has to be a part of that.”
- Pushing partners: “You should always push your agency partners, and your partners in general, to take your core values as a company and help translate that into your media and marketing behaviors at large.”
Turning principles into action
Some of the ways Mindshare has translated these guidelines into tangible action include:
- Supporting content from historically marginalized groups to help overcome “algorithm bias” on digital and automated buying platforms. That includes rolling out private marketplaces that direct their adspend to community journalism produced by under-represented groups.
- Working with tech giant IBM on a toolkit that deploys artificial intelligence to measure potential bias in ad targeting, measuring campaign plans against 75 “fairness metrics”.
- Encouraging “human safety” with the Impact Index, an algorithm-powered tool that assesses the social impact of editorial content on minority communities.
As a result, Lowenstein said the agency now understands the impact their ad dollars are having on a specific group “from the positive down to the toxic”.
“We need to redirect our energy, because energy flows where our intention goes” – Rachel Lowenstein, global head of inclusive innovation, Mindshare.
*Lowenstein was speaking at the Unstereotype Alliance Global Member Summit, a platform for engaging the global advertising industry to eradicate harmful stereotypes.
[Image: Clay Banks for Unsplash]
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