The alternative ethnic outlet


Sanjay Shabi,

Board Director and Head of CultureCom UK, MediaCom, looks at various options for media buying agencies


As ethnic marketing practitioners, we often associate ethnic media channels as the only route for reaching ethnic audiences. The past 12 months however, there has been a growing number of alternative media routes sitting outside of traditional ethnic media choices which are far from pusillanimous. Already, we know mainstream regional
newspapers provide penetration into areas densely populated by ethnic communities.

Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Leicester, and London’s boroughs, are just a handful where regional print hasre-established itself as ideal media vehicles for gaining access to ethnic homes, bearing in mind its principal role is to report on and reflect local communities. Mainstream cinema multiplexes too have taken great pecuniary interest in South Asians, by
offering advertising packages during packed screenings (no matter what time of the day they are shown!) of the latest Bollywood movies imported to the UK.

Home media

Similarly familiar with the power of out of home media. Detailed analysis of postcode and mosaic data enables isolation of key hotspots to deploy ad messaging on public transport,
high streets, major shopping districts and thoroughfares where ethnic populations live, work and reside. It is however within digital media where the scope to harness such valuable audiences is most prolific and every rising.
Social media offers a vast proliferation of diverse, potential consumers. Last year, Facebook launched in the USA its much vaunted “ethnic affinity” targeting option, albeit received not without controversy. Its appropriateness and scope for success
within the UK, as and when released, is open to continued debate but is beside the point. For Facebook to invest its own resources in identifying this rich vein of diversity inherent within its user base only goes to show how we all overlook at our peril, the value of ethnicity as a commercial source for growth.

Multicultural advertising

Multiculturalism and how this impacts on our approach to advertising is here to stay and via such forays, Facebook provides a ringing endorsement of that fact, regardless of any potential discriminatory implications.
Plagued without such controversy, Sky has its own variant whereby its AdSmart technology provides “smart” targeting of ads positively diced and served according to viewers’
Programmatic digital buying and the burgeoning technological advances associated with it proffers perhaps the ultimate method to target ethnic audiences efficiently and relatively
cheaply. This works even more so when overlaid on how mobile, our

everyday companion, is now the leading primary choice for digital or web based experiences. Not only can programmatic executions deliver hyper targeted reach capabilities in volume but to do so by programmatically serving creative in tune with a user’s interest based on past behaviours exhibited online. For any more traditional based ethnic media owners rooted
in print, classic TV or audio only based broadcasting, this can make grim reading. Mainstream media’s attempt to directly rival established ethnic media is a latent threat.

Trial the business

Instead, I believe this finally at last provides advertisers with the perfect opportunity to trial the business impact of hitting ethnic target audiences via media channels they are already conversant with. Furthermore, success manifests from such tests can only bode well for ultimately determining the true worth and valid business case for ethnic audiences.

If anything, this helps reinforce the rationale for ethnic media. Regardless of the volume delivering attributes of the aforementioned mainstream media, they will always have
to contend with the qualitative drivers and motivations why ethnic audiences consume ethnic media in the first place – the alternative cultural perspective it fulfils.
Collectively, these approaches can all work harmoniously in tandem. In this respect, I now hope my assessment plays out during the next 12 months!


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