Hero Media and AdTheorent Launch DSP to Target Diverse Audiences

Hero Media and AdTheorent are partnering to create a new demand-side platform (DSP) that aims to bring more programmatic technology to multicultural marketing.

The platform, Hero One, helps advertisers target diverse audiences across an array of media, including Hero Media’s Black-owned media network, as well as the full swath of inventory monetized by supply-side platforms (SSPs) like PubMatic and Magnite. The platform will use proprietary tech, algorithms and data from DSP AdTheorent and contextually relevant signals developed from Hero Media.

“We want to not just limit the inventory we target to Black-owned but we want to reach Black and diverse consumers regardless of where they are,” said Joe Anthony, founder and chairman of Hero Media. “That helps us overcome some of the issues around scale.” Anthony added that Black-owned media will still be prioritized, even if all media is eligible for advertising.

Hero One is unique among ad-tech solutions in the multicultural marketing space to take a buy-side approach and a rare Black-owned DSP. Private marketplaces (PMPs) and SSPs like Colossus SSP have been more popular recently, sources told Adweek. These solutions help buyers reach publishers owned by members of underrepresented communities, instead of more directly targeting diverse populations.

Hero One, which will introduce a self-service function in the second quarter of 2024, comes at a time when brands say they want to engage in multicultural marketing, as the non-white population is growing. At the same time, efforts to diversify spend have often resulted in one-off campaigns or only benefitted the biggest publishers.

Hero Media and AdTheorent are aiming to make it easier for brands to reach diverse audiences in a thoughtful way, and early data shows promising results.

A major oil and gas company used Hero One to target Black luxury auto shoppers and drove click-through rates of 0.25%, exceeding the 0.15% benchmark and video completion rates of 87.2%, exceeding the 79% benchmark, according to the company.

The checkered history of audience segments

Part of the reason buyers have soured on audience targeting to reach diverse audiences is that data firms can use biased signals to create segments.

It’s common for ad-tech firms to identify Black or Latinx audiences based on last names and zip codes, and preferences like being a fan of Reggae, two buyers said.

“There are some tools to target audiences already and we have found they’re not the most ethical way to do marketing,” said Campbell Williams, senior manager of programmatic operations at performance marketing agency Tinuiti, who has worked on multicultural media buying initiatives.

Hero One aims to be more thoughtful, basing its audience on 56 million records of self-reported race and ethnicity data, which makes sure the platform is targeting actually diverse audiences rather than guessing. The data set is decoupled from any names or sensitive information, according to AdTheorent, which owns the data set.

“We don’t make assumptions based on where someone is based or their interests or what content they consume,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of AdTheorent. “We do have this additional data insight … so that we can connect dots and we can tie it back to race and ethnicity in a way that can be useful.”

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