Marketers eye minority-owned media companies as diversity conversation heats up.

Upfront conversations are generally around pricing, programming and audience numbers.

That’s changing this year after the events of 2020, which have brought diversity and inclusion to the forefront of ad industry discussions.

There’s been a broader push in this year’s upfront conversations to shift spend from general market programming to not just channels that reach BIPOC audiences but are owned by minorities, as disenfranchised communities call for economic inclusion.

As a result, advertisers and media agencies are finally addressing the gap between large media conglomerates and minority-owned outlets.

It’s a shift that’s not just the right thing to do, but necessary as the U.S. becomes a minority-majority country, changing a “whole segment of our demographic footprint,” Lisa Torres, president of Publicis Media’s cultural quotient, told Campaign US.

To help facilitate this investment shift for clients, many agencies are promoting minority-owned media companies in dedicated meetings or events.

Publicis Media set up meetings with diverse media owners to present their capabilities and help them navigate the upfront process. While the group hosted such meetings prior to the pandemic, it made them more frequent in the wake of the social justice protests last summer, Torres said.

Media agency UM finds new partners through word of mouth referrals or by tapping into parent IPG’s broader network.

“We keep our ears to the ground to know what’s happening across these diverse communities, what they’re listening to and how they’re taking in their information,” said Deidre Smalls-Landau, chief marketing officer and EVP, global culture at UM. “Economic inclusion is what’s required to give diversity owned and targeted media opportunities for the future.”

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