ICA wants brands to support more local and diverse media

The Institute of Communications Agencies is launching a new initiative to get marketers to spend more of their media budgets with local and diverse media.

Dubbed “Purpose and Responsibility in Media Economics,” or PRIME, the project comes as media budgets continue to move into digital channels, with a small group of well-known global technology giants receiving an ever-larger share.

While that trend makes sense for brands looking to reach consumers with targeted advertising, it has also meant the defunding of smaller and traditional media outlets that have seen their ad revenue decline for years—a trend that has brought about calls for change, and led some agencies to take steps to address the imbalance).

According to the ICA, something must be done by advertisers and their agencies to direct more of their media budgets towards those smaller media companies.

“We are living in a time when trust, transparency, truth, institutions, governments, and democracy are shifting underneath us,” reads a release introducing PRIME. “Where consumers spend their money on products and services matters, where advertisers spend their media dollars matters.”

The first steps will be to invite media agency leaders to join a PRIME leadership group. That group will determine metrics that can be used to validate local and diverse media, establishing what it calls a PRIME ecosystem. Media will also be able to apply to become part of that ecosystem, with member agencies and marketers directing more of their media spend toward those local and diverse media.

“Many corporations have corporate social responsibility and we want to see that include their media dollars,” said ICA president and CEO Scott Knox. The goal is to see more marketing spend go to local media, as well as media by, and for, communities including LGBTQ, Black, Asian and South-Asian.

“What we need to do is understand who the media owners are out there, who owns them, what is the content strategy… and flag the right media as those that contribute to the wellbeing of local and diverse communities,” he said.

Making those decisions will be complicated, Knox admitted. “What we need to do is bring that community together to wrestle with and understand what the different media channels offer, how they behave, or how they’re funded,” he said.

A media outlet may be making content for a specific community, but might not be owned by a member of that community, said Knox, using OutTV as an example. “They make the right editorial decisions to reflect the community [and] those who control the content are from the community, but would we then say, ‘No, it can’t be included because it isn’t owned by a member of the LGBTQ community?'”

“What we have to do is build deeper understanding, and that’s where we want this PRIME initiative to go,” he said. “Let’s look at the media organizations out there: who owns them, what are their content strategies, their purpose, who writes and contributes. But equally, for those organizations that profess to have a purpose in this space, let’s interrogate whether they are valuable, and we need to define how we understand that.”

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

David Brown