The Importance of Diversity and Representation in TV Ads

BY Rachel Cagle
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Happy New Year! Tis the season for “New year, new me,” resolutions, and there’s one very important goal your advertising clients should set for themselves. This year, to boost the effectiveness of their advertising, they should work on diversity and representation in their campaigns.

I’ve written recently on the inclusion of Black consumers and American Indian consumers in advertising. But today, let’s take a look at diversity as a whole. According to a recent report by Nielsen, 41% of the U.S. population is diverse, either racially or ethnically. However, “white, non-​Hispanic people, men and women have the largest share of screen,” says Nielsen.

Diversity and Representation: Share of Screen

When it comes to diversity and representation in screen time across broadcast, cable and SVOD TV, here’s how different identity groups ranked:

  • White: 81.2%
  • Male: 62.1%
  • Female: 38%
  • Black: 18.1%
  • Asian: 7.1%
  • LGBTQ+: 6.7%
  • Hispanic/​Latinx: 5.5%
  • American Indian: 0.4%

You see the problem here, right?

Americans as a whole spend an average of about six hours watching TV programming every single day. Racially and ethnically diverse consumers see a far lower proportion of representation than they should. They’ve been excluded. And when people don’t feel included, they after won’t bother to pay attention to exclusive ads or the brands they represent. Or, if they do pay attention to the ads, it won’t be with positive intentions.

Where to Make Sure Your Clients Practice Diversity and Representation

Obviously it would be difficult to represent every racial and ethical group in each advertisement. So, let’s divide it up between broadcast, cable and SVOD TV. Who should your client be sure to include in their TV ads placed in these different formats?


  • LGBTQ+ representation on TV is not particularly great anywhere, but broadcast TV has the lowest rate of representation. This includes non-​binary individuals who have less than a 1% share of screen on every platform.


  • Cable is consistently home to some of the most-​watched programs for Black audiences,” reports Nielsen. However, Black consumers only have a 7% share of screen on cable TV.
  • American Indian consumers don’t have above a 1% share of screen anywhere, but only have 0.1% on cable.


  • Asian Americans want to see Asian actors in ads and on TV. This is especially true for ads on streamed video services since 82% of Asian Americans subscribe to at least one streaming service.
  • Hispanics are not represented particularly well on any type of TV service. They’re represented the most (a meager 10.1%) on SVOD, so more Latinos, particularly the younger generations, flock to it.

Diversity and representation in TV ads aren’t just important to those not being represented fairly. According to Nielsen, “All audiences, regardless of how they identify, like to see diversity in the content they view on TV.” If a brand doesn’t fairly represent different racial and ethnic groups in its ads, your client can bet the ads won’t be taken well. And then those viewers may switch to buying from your client’s competitors.

To know exactly where to place your client’s new inclusive ads based on the programming their target audience likes to watch, check out their audience profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel.