How to use Ad Audiences to Reach Marginalised Groups and Run Inclusive Campaigns

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What is paid media's role in pride advertising? Alison Booth reviews how audience targeting can ensure marginalised groups see ads that speak to them.


The marketing industry is playing an increasingly pivotal part in the growth of inclusiveness of minority groups and, as we celebrate pride, it brings to mind some of the most effective Pride campaigns brands have run to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Starbucks demonstrated the importance they place in making their stores somewhere everyone can feel welcome with their iconic #What's Your Name campaign. Many businesses have followed suit from product launches to celebrate Pride, like Under Armour’s We Win collection, to short films like Renault’s French Exchange, and the adaptation of facilities, such as Wagamama’s introduction of gender neutral toilets in 40% of its restaurants to ensure everyone feels at ease while dining there.

Under ArmourImage Source:

Many brands are striving to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community from the first advertising touch point, with messaging focused on diversity, inclusion and equality, through to the end service delivery. However, they do not want to be reliant on users either actively searching for the brand or being remarketed to to get this messaging in the right places. They want to drive awareness of this when going about your day to day browsing activity, therefore capturing a wider audience through strategies such as paid social or display, not just when actively searching using LGBTQ+ focused keywords.


Using audience targeting for LGBT campaigns

Audience targeting for advertising campaigns can be seen as a controversial issue, mainly outside of the advertising and marketing industry. Users are generally uncomfortable with the idea of advertisers being able to pinpoint aspects of their lives or personalities (even when anonymised). However, with the volume of adverts being unaffected by whether users opt in or out of sharing their browsing habits, advertisers have long argued that, by serving highly relevant ads, they are ensuring users are accessing services and products they need.

This is particularly important for organisations promoting LGBTQ+ events, allowing them to generate awareness of these when people are not actively searching for them. This ensures they can reach people who may be interested in, but may not necessarily have planned to attend, an event. Audience targeting settings have become increasingly more inclusive of LGBTQ+ communities as social media algorithms have evolved over time. For example Facebook’s LGBTQ+ audience interest groups now span culture, tourism, parenting and much more, while LinkedIn audiences reach an increasingly growing number of LGBTQ+ groups and company names. Audience targeting, for paid social advertising at least, has become more diverse to reflect the intersectionality of the community and their identities beyond just 'LGBTQ+'.


Beyond social media: the limitations of search ads audiences

However, setting up an awareness channel wide campaign to ensure the LGBTQ+ community are aware of events, support groups and other services or products that are relevant to them has limitations. While LGBTQ+ inclusive search, display and video ads have previously been implemented across search engines, these are dependent on visits to the advertisers’ website and/or the advertiser selecting the LGBTQ+ focused keywords that are most relevant to the campaign. This is also dependent on the advertiser successfully researching and selecting the most relevant keywords to align with their campaign, which could result in reach being slightly compromised, if they haven’t found all the keywords their target audience may be using.

In a time where personalisation of ads is becoming ever more critical to deliver the best customer experience, organisations need to be safe in the knowledge that they can easily reach LGBTQ+ communities with notification of events, support groups etc. without the requirement for them to actively search to find them.

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