Agencies saw the social unrest movement as an opportunity to create multicultural exchanges. Black-owned media companies are hesitant to join.
Last summer, marketers vowed to support Black-owned media companies with increased ad spend. In turn, agencies said they saw an increase in clientele; publishers said they received more RFPs and signed longer-term ad deals.
And where there is advertising money flowing, there are agencies to step in and help direct the stream.
While the opportunity to place ads on Black-owned publications became en vogue amid the social unrest movement over the summer, Black-owned media has been left disappointed in the months that followed that it took marketers so long to realize that their properties are worth investment.
“There has been a slight knock-on effect after the increased awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer,” said Mariel Richards, CEO of U.K.-based magazine gal-dem. “Which is kind of bittersweet because it’s a good thing that we’re able to support our staff and our community with increased commissioning budgets that comes from this advertising. But it is frustratingly familiar that this money is coming from a time of crisis and that it takes a tragedy for this attention to fall on us.”
GroupM, Havas Media and H Code all launched new multicultural private marketplaces or networks in the past year for brand clients to more efficiently buy ad spots in Black-owned media companies at scale. But some independently owned media companies are refraining from joining these agency networks, despite indications that the marketplaces are bringing in new clients and sales for publishers that are participating.
In June, Havas Media Group launched its version of a multicultural marketplace, its so-called social equity marketplace, in the U.S., later creating marketplaces in the U.K., France and Germany. The expansion will soon come to Spain.
The marketplace in the U.S. quickly gained steam and now claims that one-fourth of its clients are active in it. Furthermore, the marketplace offers programmatic ads for more than 1,200 BIPOC- and LGBTQ+-owned and operated publishers and media partners, including podcast creators and CTV channels, according to the company’s global head of programmatic, Ben Downing.
In its U.K. iteration, campaigns saw a 25% uplift compared to D&I-focused campaigns not purchased in the marketplace. And in all of the global social equity marketplaces, transactions have been consistent and growing since launch. In other words, clients are not just using the marketplace during key moments for Black audiences, such as Black History Month in the U.S., Downing said.
GroupM has had a multicultural division since 2006 but launched its programmatic multicultural marketplace in July. The PMP started with a portfolio of 300 sites. It now includes more than 500 media sites primarily operated by BIPOC creators or produced for BIPOC audiences, versus being minority owned.
The marketplace has brought in 20 to 25 new clients into the multicultural division, according to Gonzalo del Fa, president of GroupM Multicultural, but he said he expects significant growth in 2021 as his team moves out of the strategizing stage and into the execution phase. Especially when it comes to programmatic.
“We did have a lot of client interest, what became the challenge is that most of those sites were not set up programmatically,” said Susan Schiekofer, chief digital investments officer at GroupM, adding that her team consulted with the publishers in the marketplace to help set them up for programmatic transactions.
Overall, these marketplaces have convinced brands to more regularly allocate a portion of their advertising budgets to publishers that they might never have worked with before. This moment of time has also gotten brands to spend around new key moments. Schiekofer added that this was the first year ever that her team has had clients ask about Juneteenth campaigns.
But as agencies become more involved in the process, independently owned publishers say they lose direct contact with potential new clients, as well as autonomy over who is advertising on their sites and what they’re able to charge, leaving many skeptical and hesitant to join these marketplaces.
“After everything that came with Black Lives Matter, there are lots of agencies and organizations that are making quick money off of saying they are able to put a badge of diversity and ‘wokeness’ on a brand, without that brand having to actively engage with that community,” said gal-dem’s Richards. “It didn’t feel just like the normal moving and shaking of the advertising world, it felt much more like exploitation than it would have in any other circumstance.”
Richards said that gal-dem was included as a publisher in one multicultural marketplace for an agency that “specializes in buying diverse media,” despite not having had a conversation with that agency about the magazine’s inclusion. Richards would not disclose the name of the agency, but said that the experience left “a bad taste in my mouth.”
The advertising industry has historically been dominated by the white male demographic, Richards said, and in these situations, the agencies become the middlemen that profiteer on the money that is being earmarked by brands to support Black-owned media companies.
REVOLT, a music-oriented digital cable television network founded by rapper and producer Sean Combs, was approached by GroupM to join its multicultural marketplace, but turned down the offer, according to the network’s evp of ad sales Mike Roche.
In the past year, Roche said REVOLT added 40 new advertisers. Joining a PMP would not have allowed the company to gain the scale at the depth of spend it could reach on its own.
PMPs allow brands to “check the box of buying Black-owned properties through small allocations of media,” but the “brands that are looking to make the greatest impact on the culture” usually work with REVOLT’s in-house agency, Roche said.
The Plug, a newsletter turned online media company covering innovation and entrepreneurship in the Black community, also has not worked with any multicultural PMPs or media buying agencies, said the publication’s founder Sherrell Dorsey.
“It’s not a matter of being left out,” however, she said. “It’s when you’re looking for critical mass, sometimes the niche spaces just don’t fit. And I’m OK with that.”
Dorsey noted that the brand saw an increase of requests from brands over the summer, but declined to count this uptick in true growth and instead called it artificial.
That interest also began to wane by the start of the fourth quarter, she noted, with a slight pick-up again ahead of Black History Month last month.
“I think that you kind of have that crop of advertisers who feel like they’re doing Black media publishers a favor when they are approaching them and looking to advertise, but they don’t want to spend market rate for what it costs,” said Dorsey.
For many of these independently-owned media companies covering topics and reporting stories that have been largely marginalized by mainstream media, this additional ad revenue becomes even more crucial to their operations, so agencies taking a portion of that makes it an even murkier situation, Richards said.
“Not only do they take away your agency in terms of determining which brands are present on your website — which potentially could affect how people view your editorial integrity when reading it — but also they start to determine how much that that audience is worth,” Richards said.
Further more, gal-dem typically sets its CPMs between £15-25 ($20-35) due to its selective nature around who the advertisers are and the number of ads that run on site. But the agencies that Richards has spoken with in the past encouraged the magazine to drop its CPMs to £4-6 (about $5-8), even though publications of a similar size that have a whiter audience are being sold at £10-15 ($14-20) or £15-20 ($20-17) CPMs. Not only does it make Richards question the motive of the agency, but she said it is also very transparent that advertisers do not see Black audiences as having an equally high value.
“We’re trying to make a shift in how dollars are allocated, how campaigns are built. Let’s talk about a strategic relationship with a brand that goes six months, a year, two years.” said Damian Benders, general Manager of B Code Media, a division of multicultural advertising agency H Code that focuses on connecting brands with Black audiences.
In January, the B Code division was officially launched and rather than only being a programmatic solution to selling Black media at scale, Benders said that his team focuses on researching insights into Black audiences then takes a consultative approach to helping brands build campaigns that are meaningful.
“Black media suffers from the problem of building scale across a fragmented landscape. There’s a few top players that are bigger companies that have a bunch of brands, and then there’s hundreds of smaller players who are minority owned [that] aren’t getting most of the money,” said Benders.
Some publishers are taking the issue of limited scale into their own hands and either formally (or informally) creating their own networks of multicultural publications.
Roche’s solution mirrors the industry: He said REVOLT will launch its own version of a PMP by the end of the year, which will focus on creating a network of YouTube content creators and digital publishers.
Richards said gal-dem informally works with other U.K.-based niche publishers regularly, and will share RFPs that don’t fully match its specific audience.
Brands want to make sure they “get the scale within the community they’re trying to reach. That’s totally feasible outside of working with a white guy who says that he can buy programmatic advertising. And often we can do it more effectively because then you’ll get access to the talent directly through the publications,” she said.
Sir David Amess: Priest quits social media over MP last rites abuse – BBC News
A priest said he felt forced to delete his Twitter account after being accused of not doing enough to administer last rites to Sir David Amess.
Fr Jeffrey Woolnough said he rushed to the scene on 15 October when he heard the MP – a devout Catholic – had been stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
But the priest said police would not let him enter to deliver the sacrament as it was a crime scene.
Fr Woolnough said criticism he had since received was “hurtful”.
“Most people have been so kind with messages of support, others have accused me of capitulating at the scene,” he said.
“The police have a job to do. When I say I have to respect it, it doesn’t mean I agree with it.
“But I have to respect as a law-abiding citizen that the police would not allow me in and I had to find plan B, and plan B for me was prayer, and I had to pray on the spot, pray on the rosary.”
Fr Woolnough is the parish priest at St Peter’s Catholic Church, Eastwood, Southend, close to where Sir David was killed.
He said he “foolishly” tried to defend his actions on social media but it “stirred up a hornet’s nest” so he deleted his Twitter account.
“I was trying to let people know I had tried my very best but apparently my best wasn’t good enough,” he said.
Fr Woolnough said he had since had telephone conversations with “some really top priests in the hierarchy” who told him he “did the right thing”.
The “Amess amendment” has since been proposed to ensure access for Catholic priests, including at crime scenes.
The intention is to add it to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The man accused of killing Sir David will face trial next year. Ali Harbi Ali, 25, of Kentish Town in north London, is charged with murder and the preparation of terrorist acts.
An inquest into the death of Sir David is due to be opened by the Essex coroner on Wednesday.
Media Advisory: Minister Abbott to Introduce New Accessibility Legislation – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Honourable John G. Abbott, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, will be available to media to discuss proposed new accessibility legislation prior to debate in the House of Assembly today (Monday, October 25) at 12:00 p.m. in the media centre, East Block, Confederation Building.
Media covering the announcement will have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. Media planning to participate should register with Khadija Rehma (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 10:00 a.m. today (Monday, October 22).
Prior to the announcement, a technical briefing for media will be provided at 11:00 a.m.
Media participating in the briefing will also have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. Media who wish to participate in the technical briefing should RSVP to Khadija Rehma (email@example.com), who will provide the details and the required information.
Media must join the teleconference at 10:45 a.m. (NST) to be included on the call. For sound quality purposes, registered media are asked to use a land line if at all possible.
– 30 –
Michelle Hunt Grouchy
Children, Seniors and Social Development
Racism allegations on social media defamed Ottawa women, judge rules – CBC.ca
A judge has ordered an Ottawa woman to pay $100,000 in damages for embarking on what he called a “brutal and unempathetic campaign” against two women in a defamation case centred around a video posted just days after the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer.
The defendant’s lawyer, Cedric Nahum, says he plans to appeal the decision, which also subjects his client to a permanent injunction that limits her speaking about the case.
“We found the decision quite disappointing. I think it could do a lot to muzzle conversation in relation to race issues,” said Nahum.
He also says the judge didn’t adequately take into account the perspective of his client Solit Isak, who identifies as Black, in the context of George Floyd’s death in interpreting the case.
The other side, meanwhile, called the judge’s decision a “vindication of their reputation” after a traumatic experience that included the loss of employment and threats against them and their family.
Allegations of racism on social media
The case followed a social media firestorm in June 2020 after a screenshot from the Snapchat account of Shania Lavallee was taken from a May 30 video of her sister Justine being pinned down by Shania’s boyfriend Gilmour Driscoll-Maurice — who held her hands behind her and had his knee on her back.
Isak saw the screenshot just days after Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Isak, who admitted to never seeing the video, proceeded to make more than 100 social media posts accusing the women of mocking Floyd’s death, tagging their employers, and encouraging other people to do the same and share information about them.
Those posts were also republished and amplified.
On June 1, Shania issued an apology online, saying in part, “I meant absolutely no disrespect and didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone. In the video, they were play fighting as they always do and in retrospect I can see how the video could be taken out of context given the current situation and I now see how insensitive it is.
“It was wrong of me to be inconsiderate of the sensitive times at hand and by no means did I use this as a representation of what happened with George Floyd.”
Shania lost her job at Boston Pizza in Orléans, as well as a teaching job offer at the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Justine lost her job at the Canada Border Services Agency, as well as failed a character check in her application for work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Lavallees said they also had to leave their home to avoid death threats and vandalism.
On June 5, the sisters’ lawyer asked Isak to take down her posts and issue an apology threatening to sue for defamation. Isak had filed a counterclaim by the end of that month.
In the summary of his decision, Justice Marc Smith said Isak “blindly embarked on a brutal and unempathetic campaign to destroy the lives of two young women” and didn’t have the factual basis for her claims of racism.
Shania had told court they had posted similar “play fighting” videos in the past and at no point in the video did they mention Floyd or refer to “police brutality.”
While they were not able to recover the video, which Snapchat deletes automatically after 24 hours, the plaintiffs provided statements from two friends who saw the video supporting that claim.
The judge accepted the plaintiff’s story and it wasn’t challenged by the defendant.
However, Isak’s lawyer said the particulars of the video were less important than the context of when it was published.
The defendant’s submissions noted around the same time, other viral images were being circulated online of a so-called “George Floyd challenge” where social media users appeared to imitate the kneeling position in jest.
“I don’t think that the judge was able to put himself in the place of a young Black person in the days after the murder of George Floyd,” Nahum said.
“He likely wouldn’t be able to do so as a white judge.”
Sisters ‘sensitive’ to acts of racism
The Lavallees’ lawyer Charles Daoust said it has been a “long, traumatic year for them, but they are happy now to be able to vindicate their reputations.”
“The message from the court is clear that people really should be careful before levelling very serious accusations on the internet, especially to have evidence,” said Daoust.
In a statement, the sisters said as members of the Indigenous community they are sensitive to acts of racism, but the events in 2020 “did not, in any way, relate to racism.”
In court, the plaintiffs filed Native Alliance of Quebec (NAQ) membership cards to claim they are Inuit. NAQ cards are not federally recognized identification.
The CBC asked which land claim organization they belong to, which is how official identification as Inuit is recognized, and Daoust said his clients had no further comment.
Limits of free speech
Isak is not required to issue an apology, but the permanent injunction prevents her from publishing any further “defamatory statements” about the Lavallees.
Nahum said his client is now saddled with $100,000 in debt at the beginning of her adult life and this raises concerns about other people who might seek to speak out against racism.
“When we’re looking at who has been told not to speak here, we’re looking at the voice of a young Black woman, as opposed to all the other news media outlets or other people who had commented on the situation,” Nahum said.
Hilary Young, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick, argued she doesn’t think the decision will have a chilling effect on people calling out racist behaviour.
“I think the law is clear that if there is some basis for you to conclude that someone is racist, there are protections of fair comment that will protect your right to state that opinion. But that’s not unlimited.” she said.
“If you harm someone’s reputation, your good intentions aren’t good enough to get you off the hook.”
Young said the judge did weigh Isak’s intention of denouncing racism in assessing damages and didn’t call for punitive damages to be paid on top of the general damages.
Social media has increased the use of permanent injunctions so defamatory posts can be removed in an effort to repair damaged reputations, she said.
It’s also become more common for private individuals to be involved in defamation cases, which used to primarily play out between public figures and journalists or publishers.
“Now in the internet era, you see a lot more cases where you just have individuals making allegations about other individuals and they haven’t done their research or done a lot of effort to get their facts right,” Young said.
Employers’ due diligence
The judge also said third parties not directly involved in the case should have done more diligence to review the evidence and the sisters’ version of the story.
Daoust said his clients are considering their options regarding the employers who fired the sisters or rescinded offers of employment.
In a statement, the Canada Border Services Agency said as a law enforcement agency its employees must be held to the highest standard of conduct, including in day-to-day activities. The agency said it has “no intention of revisiting its decision in this case.”
The RCMP said it could not comment on an individual’s security clearance for privacy reasons, and should an individual re-apply they would be evaluated according to Treasury Board standards.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board declined to comment on the judge’s decision. Boston Pizza did not respond to CBC’s request for comment.
Ottawa Morning7:54Racism allegations on social media defamed Ottawa women, judge rules
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