How Zeta is Helping Marketers Identify and Reach Multicultural Audiences More Effectively

By Imani Laners, Vice President of Multicultural Partnerships. Marketers know their growth opportunities lie in the ability to precisely identify, reach, engage, and convert underrepresented audiences. Black, Hispanic, and Asian consumers in the U.S. have a collective buying power of $4.9 trillion, with annual expenditures increasing at arate faster than non-multicultural audiences. 

Despite the opportunity, it’s historically been a challenge to precisely identify underrepresented groups with data.  Marketers and media buyers need new strategies—and new partners—to overcome this challenge.

Zeta has worked closely with marketers to understand these difficulties and how best to address them. As a result, we’ve built a multicultural media division centered around our intelligence and activation solutions and how they can be used to create better experiences for multicultural consumers—and better outcomes for brands.

Through our platform, marketers can access 80 million U.S. based multicultural consumers aged 18 or older (from our Data Cloud of 235+ million consumers) with the intelligence necessary to understand each consumer’s intent at the most granular level. We create a more accurate view of each individual that can help you determine who will have the most impact on your business.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages that make our multicultural practice unique and lead to a more precise understanding of underrepresented audiences.

More Precisely Identify Underrepresented Audiences at Scale

The challenge starts with identifying the Black, Hispanic and Asian consumers using data. Most data providers collect only a small handful of data points before jumping to a conclusion.

But a few website visits or product purchases is simply not enough data to confidently make a call on an individual’s ethnicity. It takes a multi-threaded, multi-layered identity approach to increase that confidence level accordingly.

Here’s what our methodology looks like:

  1. Integrate a multitude of data points from a variety of sources under one roof. We use a combination of third-party data from companies like Acxiom and Zeta’s own proprietary location and behavioral data. Key data points include race of household, household country of origin, device location, language of web browser, and more. We apply over 5,000 behavioral, transactional, and location attributes to determine activity and validate interests. All data is privacy-safe and non-personally identifiable (non-PII).
  2. Weigh all the various data points and assign everyone a score. Our custom algorithm built over many years synthesizes all of the data, examines all sources collectively, and assigns a confidence score.
  3. Assign ethnicity (or not). If the individual’s confidence score meets a certain threshold, we identify the individual’s ethnicity as Black, Hispanic or Asian. If they do not reach the appropriate threshold, their ethnicity remains unclassified.

Admittedly, this methodology is probabilistic, not deterministic. We cannot assign ethnicity with 100% certainty. But our process for identifying underrepresented audiences is significantly more precise than anything else we’ve seen in the market. Our Data Cloud features multicultural audiences totaling 80 million adult U.S. consumers aged 18 and over, which accounts for nearly 50% of the U.S. population. By combining and comparing data points across sources and using various data hygiene techniques on this data, we’ve found that other sources misidentify individuals’ ethnicity about 40% of the time.

Activate More Efficient, Effective Campaigns

Imagine you are delivering a campaign in Spanish, but 40% of your audience has been misidentified and doesn’t speak Spanish. Nearly half of your ad dollars are ineffective.

When you can more accurately identify the right audience up front, your campaigns are more thoughtful and resonate with the people they should, which means less waste, relevant connections, and higher performance.

A financial client, for example, did a general targeted campaign with ad creative that resonated with all audiences. At the conclusion of the campaign, we saw a 77% reduction in their cost per click (CPC) and post campaign we were able to identify the top consumers as Black and Hispanic. The campaign was a top performer for the client.

Our brands in other industries use this approach to a similar effect.

A grocery brand leverages our platform to help them identify their Black and Hispanic audiences better, which now allows the grocer to reach these audiences with more relevant content around culturally-focused holidays and events.

A non-profit organization in the healthcare space relies on Zeta to identify and reach underrepresented audiences that deal with over-indexing health ailments  in their communities. Zeta helps the non-profit run campaigns tasked with driving those at-risk individuals to local clinics for proper diagnoses.

Better Understand Your Audience Through Insights

Marketers rely on Zeta to identify and reach multicultural audiences, but we can also provide post-campaign, multicultural insights on general market targeted campaigns.

Adding multicultural overlays to post-campaign audience insights allows marketers to better understand the multicultural makeup of the consumers responsive to the campaign. These insights help them understand the value multicultural audiences have on business outcomes. It also helps identify opportunities to optimize future marketing messages, creative, targeting, and more in order to be more relevant and connect more meaningfully.

We work with a non-profit, for example, that had never examined their donor base from an ethnicity perspective.

After running a campaign for the non-profit, we added an ethnicity overlay to the results in order to identify the multicultural makeup of the donors. This allowed the organization to see that while Hispanic donors had a higher acquisition cost, they also had a significantly higher value per donor compared to other ethnicities.

Not Just for Brands—Benefiting Minority-Owned Media, Too

Brands aren’t the only organizations that benefit from closer connections to underrepresented audiences. Minority-owned media companies also trust Zeta as their programmatic arm and audience extension partner.

These publishers create and monetize content for specific ethnicities. Having access to data-driven, multicultural audiences and insights at scale helps secure a larger share of media revenue — and impacts business outcomes for brands looking to support them with larger media buys.

One minority-owned publisher, for example, partnered with Zeta to run a campaign for an automotive client wanting to reach Black audiences. The target click-through-rate for the campaign was .09%, but Zeta achieved a .12% CTR — 33% higher than expected — even though it was their first time running the campaign.

Creating Multicultural Audience Communities

We understand that multicultural audiences are not monolithic. We are dedicating resources to continually improve the granularity of our multicultural data, creating sub-audiences that are more like a community.

For example, our Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) audiences represent and support Black collegiate and community excellence, reaching students, alumni, faculty, supporters and organizations, and the Divine Nine.

Zeta was the first to bring these HBCU data-driven audiences to the marketplace more than two years ago. Brands from a variety of industries—QSR, sports, insurance, military, home improvement, and grocery—have since shown interest in and/or have activated campaigns targeting these in-demand audiences.

One global QSR came to Zeta specifically for access to the HBCU audiences, then created a campaign to reach people that would be likely to apply for a scholarship to one of these universities.

We are creating more Black, Hispanic, and Asian sub-audience communities for brands and minority-owned media to leverage in the near future.

Growing Our Multicultural Intelligence

There is a great need in the marketing, advertising, and publishing worlds to connect more effectively with multicultural audiences, and we’re making great strides to fulfill that need. We’re building the largest multicultural media practice by continually dedicating resources, time, expertise, and intelligence to understanding underrepresented audiences better than anyone else. We’ve made significant progress, and we’re looking forward to continued improvements.

If you want to learn more about Zeta’s multicultural media partnerships, contact me at [email protected].

Want to see Zeta in action?

To implement these strategies effectively, brands need the right technology and tools to support their personalization efforts. The Zeta Marketing Platform empowers businesses to offer highly tailored experiences driven by AI.
Zeta Marketing Platform


Thanks for your interest in Zeta. To see a demo please complete the form.

Thank you!

Your request has been sent. We will be in touch with you shortly.