Many major US brands have signalled their intention to step up efforts towards diversity, but a new report from Nielsen reveals many are missing an opportunity when it comes to ad spending with media that have the greatest reach within the African-American community.

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.

Cheryl Grace, a senior vice president at Nielsen, suggests the numbers show business has a long way to go with taking their social responsibility seriously. “There are some companies that have done better across the board than others,” Grace said.

“But there are other companies that we’re seeing a lot of social-media buzz from, but we’re not seeing their dollars reflected on that advocacy.”

As Bloomberg reports, however, the Nielsen analysis only takes into account spending on media where African-American consumers are the main audience. This misses out the most-watched networks, which do not have predominantly Black audiences, but do have significant ones.

What the report does do, though, is demonstrate why Black consumers in the US should be more attractive to advertisers – over the last decade their buying power has grown by 48%, compared to 43% for the US population as a whole.

In addition, Black consumers watch more live TV on average than other demographics, as well as spending more time using their mobiles, both important channels for advertisers to reach consumers.

Several of those brands that top the list of biggest advertisers in African-American-focused media turn out also to be the largest overall spenders, such as Procter & Gamble, Amazon, and AT&T. One outlier was Berkshire Hathaway, which was the second-biggest spender on Black-focused media behind Procter & Gamble, but placed 15th in terms of overall advertising spend.

According to Kimberly Paige, chief marketing officer at ViacomCBS Inc.’s BET Network, multicultural marketing is not a case of simply targeting an ethnic group. Brands should think instead in terms of the “return on influence”. Directing campaigns at a specific ethnicity put people in that group in the “crosshairs”, Paige said. But an authentic, ongoing message that conveys good brand values would achieve greater results.

Sourced from Bloomberg