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Measuring diversity in advertising: A challenge of scale



Measuring diversity in advertising: A challenge of scale

“The vast majority of people, when they look at ad content, say they don’t see themselves in it, they don’t see themselves represented. We spend all this time and money telling stories and yet most of the people who look at them don’t see themselves in it. Not only is this clearly inefficient, it’s also quite alienating.” Comments from Anastasia Leng, founder and CEO of CreativeX.

CreativeX’s software provides AI-powered analysis of visual content — images and video — at scale, enabling brands to make data-driven creative decisions, supporting quality, brand consistency and compliance. Recently, it has turned its attention to driving insights into representation in partnership with Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media. The Institute’s mission is to create gender balance, foster inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment and media. Creative X isn’t just looking at gender, however. “We’re looking at gender, skin tone and age range,” said Leng.

The state of representation

Using its proprietary Representation technology, CreativeX last week released results from an analysis of some 3,500 ads containing images or video (from 2021 and U.S. only). Among the findings:

  • Although 55% of ads featured women, men were 1.5X more likely to be shown in professional environments;
  • Individuals with light to medium skin tones featured twice as often in professional environments; and
  • Individuals in the over-60 age range featured hardly at all (around 1% of the ads) despite their formidable disposable income.

Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute explained: “What we have found is that, since 2016, there has been a very serious intent by some of the leading global brands – like P&G, Google, Facebook, Mars – to invest in people, to invest in resources and invest in process in order to come up with ways for them to not only absorb the information, but for them to figure out what’s going to work so that we can have improvements.”

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Leng confirmed this from her experience with her own clients. “The intentions are there. The other big trigger is that consumers are pushing them in the right direction. Consumers care more than ever.”

So what’s the problem?

The problem is scale

One of the major obstacles to meaningful change is the scale and complexity of ad creative when it comes to global brands like the ones Di Nonno referenced — brands with significant influence on the culture. “It’s been very challenging, especially when you’re dealing with global organizations and you have different regions, different entities around the world. These infrastructures are so big. How many brands, how many ads per brand per year? You’re talking about thousands and thousands, and the pace is so fast.”

That’s where CreativeX comes in, with its use of AI to automate the analysis of vast quantities of creative. “We connect all the different places where they’re running advertising to our system. This then allows us, via APIs, to pull in all of their content. What we then do is look through all their images and videos and basically append a bunch of metadata that helps us determine everything from who is in the creative – what kinds of people – all the way down to what settings they’re in, percentage of men versus women, under 21, over 60, and differences around stories you are telling about men versus women.”


It’s easy for brands to find excuses, Leng said. “You do a bit of research on a small sample size and people say, ‘But you didn’t look at all my content.’ In this case, we’ve taken those excuses off the table. We can look at all your content.” For some large brands CreativeX has so far looked at U.S. content only, Leng said.

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She added: “We had an instance of one brand which said ‘We are the most diverse financial brand on the high street.’ We looked at all of their content – tens of thousands of pieces of content – and there was not a single person of color in a single one of their ads.” An extreme example, she admits. “The reason I talk about it is not because they were lying to us, not because they didn’t care, but when you have a large brand with thousands of marketers distributed across multiple locations, and a bunch of agencies, unless you have the systemic infrastructure to track this – everyone thought they were being diverse but no-one was actually doing it.”

Read next: When it comes to women, marketing is behind the times

The goal is systemic change

CreativeX and the Geena Davis Institute happen to share some clients, but the way the partnership is intended to work is that Geena Davis can introduce major global media and entertainment brands to the potential of CreativeX’s technology, while CreativeX can point its clients toward the Institute for advice and counseling on their representation policies.

Ultimately, the goal is to drive systemic change, said Di Nonno. “We’ve been doing what we define as narrative culture-change work since 2004, we’ve had the privilege of being able to expand across many global verticals. We started doing global work in advertising in 2015, a result of me having the privilege of being the second jury president for the Glass Lions.” (The Glass Lion “recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.”)

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“However, as a research institute that is data-driven,” she continued, “when you think about the massiveness and volume of global advertising, to really come up with a turnkey, systemic auditing solution, there’s no way we could ever scale to be able to embrace that. So, with Creative X having created their representation project and having the opportunity to join forces, it really allows us to continue to do what we’re doing but also to have that scalability.”

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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How is the Blockchain Shaping the Digital Marketing Automation Tools?



How is the Blockchain Shaping the Digital Marketing Automation Tools?

It is no doubt that most of us are aware of what blockchain is and how it has shaped the future of digital marketing automation. If you are reading this article, then you might be wondering what exactly is the difference between blockchain and digital marketing automation?

What Exactly Is Blockchain? The blockchain is a decentralized ledger system that records transactions between two parties. A block stores information about previous transactions, so each block contains a link to its previous transaction’s record to prevent double-spending.

The users will have their copy of the record on their device so they can keep track of all the changes made in that particular chain by any member of the network.

The Blockchain Is Creating a New World

The blockchain is a new technology. It’s based on the idea of decentralization and peer-to-peer networks, which makes it different from traditional centralized systems. Blockchain technology uses a distributed ledger to store information, making it impossible for a hacker to modify the data stored on the network.

The blockchain can get used in many ways, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. But it also has applications in other industries such as digital marketing automation tools where marketers need fast access to information about their customers or prospects without having to go through an intermediary (like Google Analytics).

Some companies have started using this technology as part of their product offerings by providing users with access to their data through APIs that they can use however they wish (for example: visualizing trends over time).


How Digital Marketing Automation Tools Work

Digital marketing automation tools work by task automation like sending emails, creating landing pages, and tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns. These tools can help you save time and money by automating tasks.

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For example, let’s say you want to reach out to more leads on LinkedIn but you don’t have time to send them an email every day. With a digital marketing automation tool like HubSpot or Marketo, you can set up an autoresponder sequence that will send out emails automatically so all you have to do is check-in once in a while and make sure everything’s running smoothly.

Prepare for the Future of the Blockchain Marketing

As technology continues to evolve, the blockchain will play a pivotal role in digital marketing. This is because it offers a secure and reliable platform that marketers can use to communicate with their audience. In addition, it also provides better transparency than traditional marketing methods because of its decentralized nature.

Below are some of the ways that marketers can benefit from using blockchain:

  • Security: The blockchain offers greater security than traditional methods of digital marketing since it doesn’t rely on central servers or third parties.
  • Efficiency: Using blockchain technology means there’s no need for middlemen or intermediaries when conducting transactions online. This improves efficiency by cutting out unnecessary steps between two parties looking to transact business with one another; this saves both time and money for both parties involved!

Secure Digital Marketing Tool Designed on Blockchain

A digital marketing tool designed on blockchain will be more robust and secure. Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that helps in recording transactions between two parties efficiently.

It also ensures that the records cannot be tampered with once they get recorded. This means that if you buy a product from an e-commerce website and pay for it using cryptocurrency (a form of digital currency), then no one can hack into the system and change your transaction record to avoid paying you the money.

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In general, blockchain offers marketers several benefits:

  • It allows for better data sharing and storage than traditional databases
  • It offers enhanced security features because there is no single point of failure
  • It can help companies boost productivity by integrating both humans and machines

Blockchain Protocol That Ensures Safety, Security

Don’t worry, you can still use digital advertising. You just need to trust the blockchain protocol that runs it.

Ad-blocking software has made digital advertising ineffective already and will soon make all digital advertising completely ineffective. You see, if you are using ad-blocking software on your computer or mobile device, then you’re not seeing any of the ads being served to people who aren’t using ad blockers.

This means that advertisers must pay for each impression (or view) of their ads, even when those impressions do not get seen by anyone at all!


By adopting a blockchain protocol for their digital advertising campaigns, marketers and publishers can verify which impressions are being seen by humans and prove whether or not they were delivered effectively before paying for them.

It is worth mentioning that the benefits can be multifold as is already visible from the other spaces like the cryptocurrency markets. Numerous traders are gaining from the rising cryptocurrency prices. So, digital markets too must watch out for this technology.

The entire industry benefits because everyone is working together instead of trying to scam each other through fake views on fake websites with fake content created solely for financial gain without any real value-added back into society whatsoever!

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Digital Technology Is Changing Everything

You probably already know that digital technology is changing everything. But what you may not realize is that blockchain is one of the biggest and most important digital technologies to come out in years.

Blockchain can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s worth learning about because it’s changing the way we do business, marketing, and advertising—even as we speak! The best place to start learning is by understanding what blockchain means. It’s essentially a decentralized database that allows information (such as financial transactions) to be stored on multiple computers rather than in one location. This makes it more secure than traditional databases which are usually stored on just one server or computer system.


As you can see, the blockchain is changing the way we interact with technology. It’s also changing how we experience marketing automation tools, and how they work. The future of digital marketing will be shaped by this new technology, which means marketers need to start exploring how it can be applied to their jobs now.

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