RIO DE JANEIRO: Addressing the gender bias in advertising can shift brand metrics, even in categories such as beer which commonly deal with long-held stereotypes, according to research from Brazil.

Three Facebook executives from Latin America – Isabela Aggiunti (Marketing Science Partner, Facebook, Brazil), Caio Daier (Marketing Science Partner, Facebook, Mexico) and Maria Julia Rayeb (Global Business Marketing Team, Facebook, Argentina) – worked with Skol, the AB InBev beer brand to explore the impact of gender-specific ads on social media.

In The impact of personalization at scale: Advertising for equality and the portrayal of women in advertising, they outline an analysis of AB InBev’s Facebook ads aired in 2016, which revealed that men were the protagonists 3.5 times more compared to women.

While this might be a targeting decision, since men are held to be more interested in the beer category, “this belief was not sustained by the Facebook Audience Insight tool,” the authors said. “At that moment an equal number of women and men were demonstrating interest in beer on Facebook.”

In the next stage of the project, two identical video ads were produced for the launch of a new Skol product packaging, with only one difference: one of them featured a male protagonist and the other a female one (and one with different physical characteristics to the usual depiction of women on screen).

The results showed that when women were shown the female-protagonist ad, that strategy drove a significant 15-point lift in purchase intent (at 90% confidence level) versus a flat lift when they were shown the male-protagonist ad.

“In the same direction, the female-centric ad generated four additional points lift in product awareness versus the other strategy,” the authors reported. “The personalized creative also generated higher retention among women: 65% more video views (first three seconds) and 57% more views up to 95% of its duration.”

While there is much more work to be done – e.g. What happens when women are protagonists with a male audience? Can other portrayals of women and men, different to the traditional, result in successful campaigns? – the authors argue that these results demonstrate that “There could be significant business incentives for brands to be more aware of this gap and take action, even in categories with long-held stereotypes”.

Sourced from ESOMAR