Every year, the topic of gender equity captures headlines during Women’s History Month. The media industry is frequently criticized for not having enough representation on screen during this period. In 2021, women received 43% and 42% respectively of U.S. television programming.1Only 31% of all measured shows had women representation at fair shares, These metrics are worse than the previous year and show no improvement.
When important issues only receive attention one month out of the year, the needle doesn’t move very far. Achieving substantial advancements toward gender equity, and inclusion of all types of audiences on TV screens, will require year-round work—and marketers have an opportunity to lead the charge. Marketers have the opportunity to use their media reach to advocate for inclusive programming and create momentum that will foster greater impactful progress, not just a 1-per-year consideration.
Marketers have the ability to influence others
Brands can influence other media outlets to include more diverse media representation. Advertisement revenue is an important source of funding media. Marketers have a lot to do with what content is produced, whether it’s traditional or streaming. Using their ad spend as leverage, marketers can demand the programs that host their brand’s advertisements to be more inclusive. Marketers have the option to move campaigns to different programs if their host media is not in agreement.
The brands also have the benefit of creating content that is more representative. Making content more inclusive broadens the range of consumers who might identify with it, thereby increasing the audience size for a brand’s ads. This means that more people can be added to the sales funnel. Expanding representation also creates a more active customer pool—increasing the odds that those initial engagements will drive a transaction—since consumers are more likely to engage brands that advertise in programming that represents their own identities.
Recognize opportunities for improvement and identify allies
Marketers need to combine their goals with a strategy in order to get more media representation. Brands need to first understand the progress made by their industries. Marketers can use this information to help them shape their messaging. Will their brand speak out on the topic or join the discussion?
Recent analysis of SME advertising spend2Researchers found that the largest investment in women-inclusive TV by marketers in the consumer packaged goods, health care and food industries was made by those in the marketing industry. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the restaurant business. Despite this, brands in each sector have significant differences. SME research shows that the top 25% spend more inclusively than 43%, while the lowest 25% invest significantly less. In spite of this, it is evident that there are still many areas to be covered to ensure gender equity in all industries.
Despite this, brands in different industries have very different strategies. SME research shows that the top 25% spend more inclusively than 43%, while the lowest 25% invest significantly less. The data shows that all industries still have a lot to do to attain gender equality.
Marketers don’t have to pursue this mission alone. They can find inclusive content with the assistance of advertising agencies to host their ads. Marketers will still need to ensure that the programs align with their brand’s other values, as this will determine whether audiences are receptive towards their ads.
Once marketers make their initial investments, they should monitor how their ads perform over time to understand if different media would be better suited for reaching the brand’s target demographic. These data will help marketers decide where to place their ads in media spots that are mutually beneficial. Armed with performance insights, marketers can also challenge competitors to match their progress—fueling momentum for more inclusive media overall.
Buzz around gender equity shouldn’t subside as April arrives. Marketers’ ad spend is valuable currency in the fight for media representation. Marketers can strengthen their connections to consumers by investing in inclusive programs. This will help them foster positive change and build deeper relationships with customers.
- Gracenote Inclusion Analytics
- Gracenote Inclusion Analytics data provided a basis for the Gracenote inclusive advertising spend analysis.