Can Programmatic Advertising Be Inclusive?

April 4, 2024 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

While popular demand-side platforms (DSPs) like Google DV360, Xandr, and The Trade Desk offer powerful tools for reaching vast target audiences programmatically, digital media buyers for Fortune 500 companies face a more profound challenge: effectively spending the massive budgets allocated to them, especially when it comes to reaching diverse audiences. 

While diversity, equity, and inclusion seem to have fallen out of favor in some areas, DEI continues to thrive in others. Consumers are still very interested in engaging with brands that align with their values and show that support, or lack thereof, with their wallets. Future-focused brands see engaging with diverse audiences as a moral duty and sound business strategy for growth. However, achieving this in the digital realm can be difficult, particularly when traditional demographic targeting methods fall short. 

That's where an inclusive perspective on programmatic advertising becomes essential. It's not just about casting a wider net but leveraging insights into cultural nuances, behavioral patterns, and consumer preferences to reach diverse audiences with content they want to see. Doing so eliminates the need to create fictitious audiences or use identifiers subject to restrictions, which are common tactics on DSPs today. 

One key aspect to consider is the concept of zero-party data. Unlike third-party data, which can be unreliable and plagued with privacy concerns, consumers willingly provide zero-party data. It's the information they consciously share with brands because they see value in doing so. Since consumers are self-reporting across a range of classifications and categories, the insights can enrich programmatic strategies, improving campaign performance and ROI. 

Most DSPs, however, lack native capabilities to offer zero-party data to programmatic advertisers. By partnering with third-party providers specializing in zero-party data solutions, digital media buyers can segment their audience based not just on traditional demographics but on cultural affinities, language preferences, and even heritage. This unprecedented granularity unlocks a wealth of insights that enable media buyers to reach diverse audiences more effectively. 

Effective targeting is just one piece of the puzzle. Equally important is crafting messaging that resonates authentically with diverse audiences. This requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances and sensitivities and a commitment to representation and inclusivity in your creative approach. Achieving this demands C-level buy-in and a commitment to inclusion as a core pillar of the company's digital advertising strategy, positioning the brand to enhance its effectiveness in an increasingly multicultural marketplace. 

In closing, big-picture thinking, ingenuity, and an inclusive perspective on programmatic advertising are value-adds to digital media buyers responsible for managing ad budgets for some of the world’s largest brands. Central to this approach is embracing the potential of zero-party data and forging partnerships with innovative third-party providers. Doing so opens doors to new avenues for engaging diverse audiences in a genuine and impactful manner.  

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.