The majority of the focus of diversity and representation in advertising tends to be focused on creative execution.   This makes sense as from a consumer perspective, this is the biggest signal of what the brand stands for.  Brands don’t exist in a bubble, they exist in culture, so advertising communications can play a major role in bringing diverse voices to the table.

However, there is a second element which consumers don’t see, and which tends to be overlooked in the conversation.  These are the decisions taken at the level of media planning, including the contexts and places the ads will be seen in, as well as who they are targeted towards.

Brands seeking to include LGBT+ audiences need to consider the full picture, including the paid for media approach by appearing in high quality, relevant spaces and ensuring brand safety measures aren’t excluding diverse voices.

Appear in high-quality, relevant spaces.

Brands that target high-quality LGBT+ media environments will guarantee your reach of an audience actively interested in LGBT+ issues, while positively signalling your own commitment and interest in the community.

While it is advantageous to reach the LGBT+ community through print, radio, out-of-home, or even TV programming – you can also find diversity within diversity, with many titles dedicated to specific audiences across the spectrum. It is also possible to amplify your representative creative to a broad audience, through wider mass-reach media.

If you are using a ‘site list’ approach to brand safety, ensure you include a range of LGBT+ media platforms within it, and deliberately look and plan for online and offline media opportunities tailored to this audience. Working closely with these partners can be a great way of securing guaranteed reach and media value while working together on shaping content.

Avoid excluding LGBT+ audiences through brand safety measures.

While it’s essential to use brand safety settings to limit the funding of hate – if used bluntly, these tools can accidentally end up excluding minority audiences.

This not only limits your reach to these valuable consumer groups but it also directly cuts off the funding of reporting and content relating to LGBT+ issues and makes it less likely these publications will continue to exist.

A study by Vice found that generic words like ‘lesbian’ and ‘Muslim were appearing more frequently on brand’s key-word blocklists than ‘murder’ and ‘rape’.

Adtech platform Cheq found that 73% of positive or neutral LGBT+ content was being misclassified and potentially blocked. Some of the real experts in this field are the diverse publishers themselves who deal with this issue, and safe ways to get around it. Consider working with one not just on their own inventory but as a means to improve your overall approach. Avoid generic keyword blocking in your brand safety approach, and ensure that minority titles are being broadly blocked.