Mindshare operates under a principle of “Good Growth”—a method for creating sustained client growth that goes beyond the focus of a single moment, sale, or platform. That’s because Mindshare believes that media agencies have the power to influence social change and is keen to push intentional media forward. The practice of intentional media investment is about aligning brand values with how brands invest their ad dollars. It is an enhancement to, not a departure from, existing planning processes. Intentional media matters, because moral decisions and business decisions cannot be decoupled. The media and content that brands surround and support with their investment has a real, human impact.
The Inclusive Innovation team at Mindshare was keen to push progress in intentional media forward, given the belief that media agencies have the power to influence culture and social change. Previously, the team created solutions like the Inclusion PMPs (programmatic offerings designed to drive more investment in the journalism of historically underrepresented groups) and the Impact Index, an AI tool that can identify if a digital partner’s editorial content was causing harm for the Black community.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, there was widespread demand to improve diversity and inclusion practices across the advertising industry. And while there has been some progress made (for example, we’re proud to be part of GroupM’s Media Inclusion Initiative), our industry still has a long way to go. It’s not that there is a lack of consumer interest in more diverse publishers and content, according to Marketing Dive: “71% of people expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising” (Chris Kelly). But often, multicultural targeting gets layered on top of media buys rather than dedicating spend to multicultural platforms. So, while there has been progress in the industry’s equitable media practices, there is still a need for brands to embed what we call intentionality in their ad campaigns.
Our solution was a partnership with investment leadership to create the Intentional Media Library, a resource that empowers investment teams to make informed decisions when designing media plans. The Intentional Media Library recommends partners that represent a wide array of historically underrepresented groups, including LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, disabled and more.
It was important that this work was done in collaboration with our investment leaders so that we could ensure it was designed to best benefit the teams who would be using it in their day-to-day work. We made sure that the partners included could address a range of needs, from standard banner ads to custom partnerships. Each partner included in the Intentional Media Library lists the capabilities, audience insights, and what makes them unique, so that investment teams can easily make informed decisions about which partners best fit their needs.
The Intentional Media Library came to life after several months of rigorous research and conversations with a variety of media partners that are owned by a historically underrepresented group and/or cater to those communities. In doing so, Mindshare not only created a vetted and informed document, but also established and/or grew our relationships with these partners along the way. These connections gave us rich insights on how to best enable audience growth opportunities for our clients through intentional media investments.
As we grew the Intentional Media Library, we grappled with how to create an equitable and representative resource that holds rich and relevant information, while remaining broadly inclusive. As with all work surrounding diversity and inclusion, the work is never done. We ultimately had to accept the Intentional Media Library as a living resource that will be continuously added to. For the initial iteration of the Intentional Media Library, we had to draw boundaries around categories and partners. Our objective was to make the partner list succinct enough to be actionable, but broad enough to be representative of the media landscape.
For the next iteration of the Intentional Media Library, we are adding a Sustainable Media portion to showcase digital media partners and platforms with innovative solutions for environmentally conscious media. Additionally, the Inclusive Innovation team is expanding the Intentional Media Library across global markets. Understanding minority-owned media will look different depending on geographical region, the format is being adapted in a way that is applicable for specific global markets.
The concept of an intentional media library, or a similar resource, is something that other brands and advertisers can replicate as well:
- Determine what societal good is most important to the brand. Is it empowering minority groups? Being conscientious of environmental impact? Ensuring that media is accessible?
- Find partners and publications whose content and support are aligned with that goal. Are they minority-owned? Do they do research on this topic? Are they a part of a community you’re looking to support?
- Talk to these partners. Find out what it is that they can offer brands and in turn, determine what they are looking for from brand deals. For example, we found that some publishers had the programmatic capabilities to be part of our Inclusion PMPs, but that others didn’t and would require different types of activations.
- Create your own Intentional Media library – filled with contact information, insights, and more so that you are prepared to make informed and intentional decisions.
The Intentional Media Library is a great example of Mindshare’s vision of Good Growth—that media planning and investments should use and create enduring, diversified, and sustainable growth for our clients. Using the Intentional Media Library creates lasting trust between Mindshare and partners, while providing clients authentic staying power within minority-owned and emerging media. When you have those authentic media partner-client relationships, it helps in making informed and effective decisions in your campaigns, prevent missteps and controversy, and combines the strategic growth of the client, with the overall progression and mission of empowering historically underrepresented populations.