How to Avoid Discrimination in Advertising

Big data, machine learning, and complex algorithms are making massive changes to how we work and look at the world around us.

One of the industries most impacted by these technologies is advertising. With large amounts of information, advertisers are now better able to understand their audience. They can then craft more effective messages and distribute them through the most efficient channels.

But while tailored advertising can help businesses in many ways, a side effect is the possibility of discrimination. Intentional or accidental, targeting ads by excluding certain types of people can lead to ethical and moral problems.

To avoid discrimination in advertising, be sure to follow these guidelines.

Understand Your Product

There are many situations where marketing to only one group of people is not problematic at all.

If your business only sells women’s clothing, it’s not wrong to advertise only to women. The product you offer has a specific purpose and will only be used by a specific group.

But if your product is universal, be cautious when deciding who to target and who to exclude. This is especially true when archaic stereotypes are relevant.

An example of this is cleaning supplies and the stereotype is that cleaning is a woman’s duty. Cleaning is not a gender-exclusive chore. Advertising cleaning supplies exclusively to women could perpetuate this stereotype.

To avoid discriminatory advertising, it’s important to know what your product is and the stigmas that surround it.

Don’t Restrict Special Offers and Opportunities

One advertising tactic is to offer something special to the person viewing the ad. This might include something like a 15% discount with the offer code or even a free sample.

However, it’s discriminatory to offer these deals to one group of people and not another.

The same thing applies to opportunities, such as jobs or housing listings. Facebook is currently facing a lawsuit for allowing real estate advertisers to exclude minority groups from seeing their ads, a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Put Ads in Accessible Locations

Targeting helps you distribute ads in an efficient way. But you need to be careful with where your ads appear to avoid diversity issues.

A billboard placed near an affluent white neighborhood means the only people who see it will fall within that demographic. The same idea applies to digital ads, such as advertising only on niche websites.

Remember: If your ad can benefit somebody, but you aren’t making it easy for them to find, you’re toeing the line of a discriminatory practice.

Use a Variety of Models

One of the most obvious ways to install an inclusive ad strategy is to use a diverse group of people in the photography used in your commercials, graphics, online videos, and other marketing materials.

Diversity in modeling seems to be trending upward. Many beauty products are featuring more and more plus-sized models, for example.

Inclusive ad visuals can draw many different types of people to your product or service. That means more business for you.

Avoid Discrimination in Advertising with a Consultation

If you’re worried your advertising might be discriminatory, don’t panic. Industry experts can analyze your ad strategy and make sure you aren’t making any mistakes.

To avoid discrimination in advertising, contact us today for a consultation.

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