- IPG Mediabrands, the media and marketing services unit of agency holding company Interpublic Group, pledged to allocate at least 5% of total media spending among its advertiser clientele to Black-owned media by 2023, per an announcement shared with Marketing Dive. The announcement follows the agency's first Equity Upfront to highlight the role of Black-owned media outlets in reaching Black audiences.
- The goal is to help lift spending on Black-focused media, which last year was less than 2% of the total, according to Nielsen Ad Intel data cited by IPG. Black consumers make up at least 13% of the population, but available impressions for Black-owned media are equal to 3% of the total impressions available among all media types, according to data compiled by sister agency Magna.
- IPG Mediabrands's commitment to Black-focused media comes as advertising agencies face greater pressure to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, not only in their internal operations, but also in their business decisions as racial justice continues to be a significant concern.
IPG Mediabrands's pledge to increase spending among Black-focused media outlets signals a deeper commitment to inclusion weeks after the agency hosted its first Equity Upfront to help showcase overlooked channels. There are 48 million Black consumers in the U.S. and their total spending power is about $1.4 trillion a year, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth and Magna. With a median age of 32, Black consumers also tend to be in a key demographic group sought by marketers, per Nielsen.
"The time is past due to embrace the opportunities to connect with influential audiences through Black-owned media," Daryl Lee, global CEO of Mediabrands, said in the announcement. "Innovation and growth are flourishing across Black-owned media outlets, providing brands with deeply authentic ways to reach diverse audiences in a supportive, meaningful manner."
IPG's clientele includes blue-chip brands such as American Express, BMW, Johnson & Johnson and CVS Health/Aetna, all of which participated in the weeklong Equity Upfront in March. The sales event was similar to other upfront presentations, except that it featured Black-focused media outlets such as Blavity, Ebony, Essence Communications, ReachTV, Revolt, The Source and Urban One.
Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios, the media company founded by Byron Allen, also participated in the Equity Upfront. Allen, whose media holdings include The Weather Channel, has been a major critic of advertisers and their agencies, accusing them of not spending enough on Black-owned media outlets. Amid his threats to sue major brands if they didn't spend more on Black-owned media, he commended IPG Mediabrands for hosting the Equity Upfront, Ad Age reported. The agency's pledge to allocate more media dollars to Black-focused media is a significant step in its inclusion efforts.
Amid the mass protests for racial justice last summer, IPG evaluated the racial makeup of its leadership team and released its findings. It found that African Americans made up just 2.6% of senior- and executive-level managers among its businesses in 2019. IPG said it would publish its diversity figures on an annual basis moving forward.
"We will invest time and resources to cultivate more inclusive leadership and management through learning and practical experiences, including support for all managers and human resources, to ensure we are allies and advocates for each other day-to-day," Michael Roth, executive chairman of IPG, said in a blog post that accompanied its diversity report.