Report - Investigation into targeted ads for Aboriginal people

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 7 June 2024

A project observing social media advertising Australian Ad Observatory (AAO) is now investigating how targeted online ads are affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

AAO says history shows that advertisers have an established record of using harmful stereotypes and targeting vulnerable populations.

In collaboration with the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures, AAO is inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in research that will allow them to see how they are being targeted online.

"We do not know the extent to which stereotyping and predatory targeting are taking place online because we cannot see the ads," says The Centre for Global Indigenous Futures director Bronwyn Carlson and Monash University professor Mark Andrejevic.

"A lack of accountability favours shady advertisers over public interest and well being. It provides cover for advertisers who might be interested in strategies exploiting stereotypes or targeting vulnerable populations.

"History shows we cannot trust advertisers to hold themselves accountable."

Public scrutiny has an important role to play in challenging advertising practices that are harmful to society.

A recent example of a marketing campaign resulting in public outcry and criticism, is the H&M ad that featured the image of a Black child wearing a sweatshirt that read, “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

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