Are Advertisers Ignoring African-American Media?

October 8, 2014

Nielsen-Top-Industries-African-American-Media-Spend-Oct2014African-Americans represent 14.4% of the American population, yet only 2.6% of major media advertising is spent on African-American media, details Nielsen in a recent study [download page], with this imbalance relatively unchanged from last year. The report notes that a growing share of African-American households earn at least $50,000, and that this consumer segment’s purchasing power is growing. Indeed, as of Fall 2013, African-Americans controlled an estimated 9% of national discretionary spending, a substantial increase from the 3 years prior (7.7-7.9%).

But while African-Americans value diversity in advertising, spending on African-American-focused media remains low relative to overall major media ad spending. Indeed, the $2.6 billion spent with media focused on African-American audiences (on cable TV, national magazines, network TV, spot radio and syndicated TV) comprised just 2.6% of the $69.3 billion spent on those platforms last year. That $2.6 billion did, however, represent a 7% increase from 2012 – as opposed to a 2% increase in overall major media spend.

The industries increasing spending by the most on a year-over-year basis last year were:

  • Life insurance (+134% to $18.7 million);
  • Hair care products (+98% to $25.1 million);
  • Loan companies (+46% to $31.1 million);
  • Universities (+46% to $20.1 million); and
  • Candy (+39% to $40.2 million).

It’s interesting to see universities increasing spending: recent data from the US Census Bureau indicates that African-Americans had above-average college enrollment rates last year.

Meanwhile, the Nielsen report also includes the top industries by spending on African-American-focused media:

  • Automotive (-7% year-over-year to $125.5 million);
  • Quick-service restaurants (+3% to $122.7 million);
  • Motion pictures (+12% to $100.2 million);
  • Department stores (+5% to $93.6 million); and
  • Wireless Telephone Services (-3% to $73.2 million).

Of the top 10 industries, just one (candy) also landed on the list of fastest-growing spenders.

In other African-American media and advertising-related data, Nielsen reveals that:

  • 45% of African-American adults with incomes greater than $50k have read an African-American focused magazine in the last 30 days;
  • 6 in 10 African-Americans feel that advertisers in Black newspapers know how to connect with the African-American audience;
  • Top-ranked radio formats for African-American audiences include Urban Contemporary, Adult Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic Contemporary, with African-Americans comprising at least 70% of the audience for each;
  • African-Americans, who are among the heaviest TV viewers, are drawn to networks such as BET, Centric, TV One and Bounce TV, with these and other African-American focused TV networks accounting for roughly three-quarters of the top-indexing programs for Black adults.
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