Report: NA Video Ad Content Getting Whiter, Not More Diverse

Despite efforts by some marketers to improve minority representation in the content of ads, a new study from ad server Extreme Reach shows that North America video advertising content is getting whiter, not more diverse.

The research found that video advertising on linear and digital outlets is whiter in 2022 than in the past two years, and roughly equivalent to 2019 levels.

White actors have accounted for 73% of the people seen in video ad creative in 2022, compared to 66% in 2021, 67% in 2020, and 74% in 2019. Meanwhile, 94% of ads in 2022 contain at least one white actor, the highest rate of occurrence in the four years analyzed.

At the same time, Black, Asian, and Hispanic representation in video ad creative declined this year, with Hispanic representation reaching its lowest mark in four years.

Extreme Reach analyzed 1 million ads deployed in North America, on linear TV and digital platforms, from January 2019 to October 2022, assessing each ad for its composition by ethnicity, race, gender, and age.



“Diversity is such an important topic, yet there has been little quantifiable information available at scale related to the people featured in advertising creative,” stated Melinda McLaughlin, CMO of Extreme Reach. “We set out to give brands and agencies the information needed to make the decisions that matter to their business. This report provides a high-level view of diversity in ads that establishes the baseline for the industry, from which brands can devise their own unique roadmap.” 

Additional findings include:

  • · All large advertising sectors covered in the report skew male with regard to who is seen and heard on-screen.
  • · Three large ad verticals, Retail, Food & Beverage and Sports, include female voices at a higher percentage than they are seen.
  • · The Restaurant ad vertical is the most diverse.
  • · 11 million people in the U.S. alone are hard of hearing or functionally deaf, yet this year only 1 in 3 creative assets include captions.
  • · 12 million people in the U.S. have low vision or identify as blind. Less than 1 percent of all ads include an audio description.

The full report can be downloaded here.

3 comments about "Report: NA Video Ad Content Getting Whiter, Not More Diverse".
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  1. Craig Lesly from Lesly Consulting, December 14, 2022 at 1:53 p.m.

    When's the last time anyone produced a commercial without at least one Black pereson in it?

  2. Dave Adams from Spottraffic, December 15, 2022 at 3:19 p.m.

    I agree with Craig and it is certainly not what I see on my TV...or amoung national advertisers, on network TV or in major market Spot TV.  I fear this study is very inaccurate in it's methodolgy.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 15, 2022 at 4:07 p.m.

    I have a bit of a problem with this too. As for the research, that requires a lot of questions to be answered--like was each commercial execution counted only once or were repeats tallied also? And was there any attempt to weight the observations by the size of the potential audience? But setting that aside, taking the implied message, is it reasonable for all advertisers to include captions or audio descriptions ---which will be distractions for most viewers---just because 3% of the audience may have eyesight or hearing issues? What about the 97% that don't have these problems?

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