Many advertisers use block lists to ensure their content isn’t shown or associated with inappropriate content, however, this approach can inadvertently exclude the wrong audiences. Rob Blake, Managing Director of Channel Factory explains how inclusion lists, in conjunction with block lists can make advertising audiences more diverse. 

The advertising industry is one that evolves and must change with the times and societal context wherein it lies. For example, since the Supreme Court in the US removed bans on interracial marriage, Americans have increasingly seen interracial relationships in advertising. Meanwhile, in the UK, ITV conducted research into the diversity and representation seen in advertising which found that when the black community sees itself represented in advertising, it leads to a drastically higher level of emotional engagement. Whilst the following may be speculative and anecdotal, I don’t think any of us regular TV watchers and content consumers could disagree that adverts have been following the cultural shift toward inclusivity and diversity.

However, brands can go much further than just casting individuals from diverse backgrounds and increasing representation within their advertising. They can actively engage with these audiences through greater levels of targeting and inclusion lists, which will then directly support content creators within these communities.

Block lists lead to blocking diversity

Understandably, brands and advertisers don’t want their adverts to be shown alongside harmful or offensive content. They utilise block lists that contain terms, tags and keywords to ensure their advert won’t be associated with such content – however often these block lists do far more harm than good. Far too many brands still adopt a binary approach when it comes to protecting their reputation – there is no room for manoeuvrability. This overly cautious behaviour leads to vast swathes of content being excluded, even when it is safe and suitable for brands.

If we look at a hypothetical example we can demonstrate how block lists can be far too restrictive. For instance, brands want to avoid ill-intended commentary or negative sentiment targeted at the LGBTQ+ community next to their ads. So they add ‘LGBTQ+’ to their block list. However, this will inevitably exclude this very community as the ads won’t be shown alongside content created by members of the community and therefore is less likely to reach their peers. In fact, Channel Factory research across 126 neutral and positive LGBTQ+ channels on YouTube found that 93% of these were excluded from advertising lists because they included words such as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’, ‘sexual’ ‘drag queens’ or ‘same-sex marriage’.

Block lists often contain a variety of terms related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation but also other issues such as mental health, and wellbeing. When brands become so restrictive with the content they can be seen promoting, they can actually reverse the positive impact their brand may have on including minority communities. Using the example above, an advert featuring LGBTQ+ families would not be positioned on LGTBQ+ channels, limiting the exposure of the message they are trying to convey.

Inclusion lists are in and block lists are out

An inclusion list consists of channels, publishers, content owners, influencers, and creators whose content aligns well with your own. With a growing responsibility for brands to support social causes, there comes a moral responsibility to ensure they are supporting a diverse range of content creators on the largest advertising platforms like YouTube. When diversifying the content advertisers want to be seen alongside, they also diversify their target audiences. An inclusion list is one key advertising tactic that can aid brands with this responsibility.

Channel Factory’s ‘Conscious Projectis helping to develop a safer video ecosystem that strives to support a wide array of diverse content creators, whilst also ensuring adverts are seen by diverse audiences. Inclusion lists can become an indispensable element for advertisers who want to do everything they can to create an environment where consumers feel valued and can recognize themselves in every situation while promoting the growth of talents on diverse platforms because they are finally becoming visible to advertisers.

The power of inclusion

By combining contextual advertising with a custom curated inclusion list of diverse creators across Black, Arab, LGBTQ+, Disabled, etc. communities you can reach increasingly diverse audiences who will connect with your brand, leading to fantastic results. Additionally, this approach ensures that brands’ advertising content is positioned next to content that is 100% brand safe and suitable. One Channel Factory client saw a 22% increase in View Through Rate (VTR) using the combination of inclusion lists and contextual targeting. Evidently, inclusion lists not only diversify your audiences but can increase engagement with your advertising.

Brands must identify their vision, or their social purpose, and stick by it. Being honest, brave and positive will help drive overall social good and will be a crucial driving factor for any business looking to engage with its customers in a more meaningful way.

Advertising can no longer be restrictive and overly selective without a foundation for it. Instead, it will take the development of industry-wide standards to propel this industry forward into one that is conscious of diverse audiences and creators. Brands and advertisers cannot simply include and represent minority groups in their campaigns without actively supporting these communities through inclusion lists.