Diversity in Online Advertising: A Case Study of 69 Brands on Social Media


The lack of diversity in advertising in Social Media is an old problem. Despite growing cultural awareness and the loss of business opportunities, many minorities remain under- or under-represented in advertising. Previous research has examined how people respond to culturally integrated advertising, but this work has focused primarily on print media or television, using laboratory experiments. In this article, we examine the diversity of content that 69 US brands have posted on two social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook. Using face detection technology, we track the race, and age of faces in ads and users involved in ads. Using this dataset, let’s look at the following:

1. What type of content do brands have – Is there a lack of diversity?

2. How the diversity of a brand’s content relates to the diversity of the audience – Is the lack of diversity just a reflection of the audience? AND

3. How does brand diversity relate to user engagement – are users of a given demographic more engaged when their demographics are displayed in a post?