Tim Mossholder

Partner Content

We Need Inclusive Media Marketplaces

Spark Foundry's head of performance insight makes the case for a consciously inclusive media marketplace

By Azad Ali

Earlier this year, Publicis Media officially launched DIME (Diverse & Inclusive Media Exchange), our consciously inclusive media marketplace. This has been a passion project of mine, over a year in the making, but a result of my experiences throughout my media career and, in fact, most of my adult life.

The foundation behind DIME started through my teens. It was at that time where I started to notice the depiction of brown skinned people and Muslims in the news, TV and cinema had some pretty common themes steeped in negativity. The type of portrayal, not uncommon to many underrepresented communities, was not only a result of a lack of understanding but a perceived unwillingness to present a fair and realistic narrative.

This only became more pronounced throughout the early years of my career in media. As the mainstream press coverage of certain incidents increasingly linked negative actions with groups of people rather than the individuals themselves. The unnecessary word associations alone meant that as a programmatic trader I had to react to brand safety concerns by adding words that described myself to a negative keyword list. Whilst, technology has improved to no longer require such a heavy handed approach, the crux of the issue in many regards remains.

So how does DIME help? Well the easy bit is partnering with publishers who curate content specifically for underrepresented communities. These publishers provide unique access to a broader section of society, who may be missed through more traditional audience and inventory buys. Being able to partner with a reputable solution such as Brand Advance, helps to bring many niche and representative publishers into the mix. The decision to do this via a programmatic route, however, helps to deliver this as an always on approach and thus adds an added layer of authenticity into ongoing campaigns.

The trickier piece was deciphering how to back that up with more representative content within our more established partners. The answer is a three step process; firstly we work with NewsGuard to filter misinformation, then we request publishers to agree to our inclusive values, ensuring this is reflected in the editorial content we buy on behalf of our clients. Finally, we put the onus on the publishers to send through vetted inventory that adheres to these values, reducing the reliance on excessive buy side brand safety parameters.

The result of these two methods is a far more holistic approach to media buying which encourages inclusivity and builds affinity. This may not completely change the way the media industry operates, but it does take us closer towards becoming the industry we should be. And whilst this marketplace currently operates within the digital and programmatic landscape, the need for inclusive media buying stretches beyond this space into other channels. Although the operational considerations may differ, the principles of what we have developed is something we are looking to replicate across the board in order to provide a truly integrated media buying approach.

The main premise behind DIME is to make inclusive media buying as easy as possible and whilst we will continue to evolve the solution over time, it's fair to say the long-term desire is for this passion project to leave a lasting impact.

Azad Ali is the head of performance insight at Spark Foundry


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