This is a campaign about elevating black voices, and drive media dollars to digital platforms and publications in the Black community that were disappearing, due to lack of funding.
Today’s advertisers have hundreds to over a thousand words on keyword exclusion lists. These lists tell automated digital advertising models not to put a brand’s advertising alongside content that could be potentially non-brand safe, based on specific words or phrases. But in an effort to avoid their brand appearing alongside topics or content that could be potentially inflammatory, stories of hard news and underrepresented voices wind up unintentionally flagged and demonetized, despite consumer interest. Words like “dope” or “bomb” can be flagged as stories about drugs or violence, but they’re everyday jargon in Black culture.
While there has been progress made in this area around semantic keyword processing, there’s still much to do – and thus exclusion lists are often unintentionally blocking content that some brands would like to support. In turn, this moves money away from publishers that need it, and has created a form of digital censorship in which ad dollars dictate what we do and don’t read.
U by Kotex is a brand that stands for championing progress. “We know first-hand what the difference between being an ally and an advocate can do,” says Brian Clayton, General Manager for U by Kotex North America.
The goal was the raise awareness, divert media dollars to support the black community in a meaningful way. U by Kotex know that you can’t fight against racism and structural inequality if Black voices are being silenced, and we’re proud to invest in Black journalists, content creators, and artists.
A study from CHEQ and the University of Baltimore found that online journalism, in 2019, lost $2.8 billion in revenue. We found that 67% of Americans agree that brands have an important role to play to speak out against racial inequality and injustice and 65% of Americans agree that they’re more likely to support brands who take meaningful action around racial inequality and Black Lives Matter rather than making posts and statements. That stat rises to 71% for multicultural Americans.
According to Nielsen in 2018, Black consumers also commanded roughly $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, but long-time publications in the community were shutting their doors and/ or ????ling bankruptcy due to lack of funding. Ad Age released & a top verification partner confirmed that content with words like ‘black people’ were being flagged as non-brand safe – thereby defunding spaces that these topics were important to. Therefore, Black publishers had to decide between covering topics important to the community or being censored and funded.
U by Kotex recognized a way to drive intentional investment and support the Black community, through journalism, content creators and the arts, though a bespoke private marketing place – a Black Community private marketplace (PMP).
This initiative is original because it curates and reaches voices across the Black Diaspora: descendants of West & Central Africa taken to various places in the Americas – meaning we’re reaching first generation African, Afro-LatinX, Caribbean American audiences and more. Though Americans in the Black Diaspora share the ‘Black experience’, culturally, there are nuances that are important to each group. Whether it’s tapping into an Afro-beats or Reggae playlist, or serving the ad on LatinX endemic sites like Mitu, U by Kotex wanted to truly be inclusive to the Black community.
Not only is this a programmatic marketplace that focuses on supporting journalists and publishers who are catering to, and writing stories for, the Black community, but it includes ways to directly support Black content creators and artists across the Black Diaspora. Strategically, the PMP features everything from partners such as Pod Digital (the first Black-owned and curated podcast network) to a deal with Zefr that brings in over 150+ Black YouTube creators, such as Jackie Aina (who advocates for people of color in the cosmetics industry) and Chescaleigh (activist and comedian).The offering is managed inhouse with U by Kotex’s dedicated hands on keyboard programmatic trading team. The marketplace is a curated programmatic marketplace comprised of over 25+ digital media publications that are Black-first, Black-owned, or Blackcentered, as well as partners who had a history of positively telling Black stories or who can financially uplift Black creators/artists. The inventory suite is comprehensive, with Digital Display, Audio, Podcasts, Programmatic Sponsorship Opportunities, FEP and Video across the U.S available. All deals were negotiated on a 1:1 basis and unlike typical programmatic deals, these were negotiated with a 75% or better viewability goal. Though no keyword exclusion or inclusion lists are applied, DoubleVerify monitoring is appended to the campaign setup – ensuring that clients have brand safe scale within the programmatic environment in the Trade desk OR DV360. The campaign also negotiated an added value measurement study with Lucid to track brand awareness, consideration, favorability and attribute.
At campaign launch, it was clear that this would be special! The Black Community PMP drove a 900x improvement (no, not a typo!) on clickthrough rates and a 1.34x improvement on video completion rates for U by Kotex —both versus previous benchmarks.
Though the campaign is still live, with a brand study gauging impact on brand favorability and awareness, but campaign to-date results show a 3.7x higher CTR, 25% greater video completion rate (VCR) and 2x the viewability when comparing it to the standard open market U by Kotex programmatic campaigns.
Brand awareness increased by 6%, brand consideration by 3.2% and we saw a 5% lift in brand favorability, thus far.