How DE&I Is Becoming An Accountable Media Metric

A week after the Association of National Advertisers unveiled that "inclusion" was its 2022 "marketing word of the year," media auditing firm MediaSense announced its own industry first: an end-to-end audit of a major advertiser's diversity, inclusion and equity (DE&I) media buys.

The audit, which is being conducted for French pharmaceutical marketing giant Sanofi, will go through its media agency OMD's books, as well as the media supply chain it buys from, to ensure they are complying with the brand's own DE&I standards.

"We are partnering with MediaSense to better understand how effective we are in this area and create both a benchmark and a framework for improvement," Sanofi Global Head Of Media, Digital & Strategic Planning Prasad Ghag said as part of the announcement, implying that the use of a media auditor is intended to bring some rigor -- and give some teeth -- to the practice, as part of its commitment to the World Federation of Advertisers' "Responsible Media Framework."

The move elevates the ad industry's embrace of DE&I from mere lip service and goodwill intentions to a part of its corporate compliance, and will include:

  1. Are an advertiser’s media campaigns reaching diverse audiences?

  2. Does an advertiser’s media investment support diverse publishers and partners?

  3. Can an advertiser improve diversity in their media ecosystem? 

It's also the first time a major brand is elevating DE&I from a soft KPI (key performance indicator) to a measurable media metric, and given the progression of industry rhetoric that followed the social justice movement spurred by George Floyd's death in 2020, I expect others to begin following suit.

Sanofi's audit will be completed by next month, and the results will serve as a guidepost not just for its DE&I compliance, but also how it has been impacting core media buying metrics like reach, frequency and overall quality and performance.

Kudos to Sanofi for fulfilling its brand promise to help make the world a healthier -- and more just -- place.

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