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AdAge Next: Multicultural Marketing Panel


It’s no secret there is a major lack of accountability when it comes to advertisers funding underrepresented publishers. Last week, I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion at the AdAge Next: Multicultural Marketing Conference, with special guests LA Dunn, Founder of Black Girls Eat and SHE Media CEO Samantha Skey.


These incredible women have join forces to chip away at the lack of advertiser investment in BIPOC independent publishers, using SHE Media’s Meaningful Marketplace initiative. (And I’m now their biggest fan.)


When SHE Media launched 15 years ago, it was fueled by a mission to create inclusive media and a more responsible content distribution landscape. Today, SHE represents over 2,000 independent publishers - including Dunn and Black Girls Eat - who come from underserved communities and face significant underfunding from advertisers. Their impressive roster of creatives produce unwaveringly high-quality, high-performing content and have far-reaching influence over their digital communities - which you’d think should make advertisers jump at the opportunity to partner with them...right?


Skey believes the biggest roadblock is that advertisers are blindly investing around 75% of their ad dollars in social platforms that have no responsibility to produce quality content, represent the advertiser’s values or compensate creators. That’s where SHE Media steps in.


Its state-of-the-art technology is built into more than 2,000 websites, reaching an audience of 50 million people, and is optimized to deliver the highest possible compensation to the publishers. For the advertisers, their content can have a much more direct, meaningful impact on a segmented audience - like Black Girls Eat.


Dunn founded Black Girls Eat to show Black and brown folks that they don’t have to be rich (or white) to live a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. When the pandemic hit and health became a priority focus for so many, Dunn's audience’s interest shifted from interested to totally committed. And even though she’s speaking to a specific audience, her motto is: “My heart is local, but the love is global.” When advertisers invest in platforms like Black Girls Eat, their money is well-spent in reaching a dedicated audience and funding the impactful work of these creators, all while being in the company of best-in-class content.


Dunn is rooting not just for Black Girls Eat, but for every underrepresented creator in the space. “If I’m in the room, everyone is in the room,” she says. Dunn believes that every blogger, writer, producer, editor, expert and multi-hyphenate creative deserves the same opportunity and platform she has.


This conversation was such an eye-opening call to action to brands and agencies to ask ourselves: How can you evolve to create a more inclusive marketing strategy?


Thank you, LA and Samantha, for your wisdom and critical work in the field!


You can catch our full conversation here.

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