Media Q1 2022 Newsletter

Positive Portrayals of Women and Girls in Ads Accelerate Business Growth

By Jennifer Pelino, Global Media, IRI

Although we are wrapping up Women's History Month and our tribute to this year's International Women's Day, female empowerment remains a global imperative for more effective action on a wide range of issues. These celebrations help underscore the fact that gender equality is important every day for a sustainable future for all of us and sharing this equality in all aspects of life is critical, including in the world of advertising and media.

To highlight progress and call out areas of opportunity, a Gender Equality Metric (GEM) was created to uncover unconscious gender bias in advertising and programming. This metric was defined with a methodology that ranks the representation of women and girls in media based on a qualified four-statement model. It focuses on how female characters are being presented, if they are shown in a respectful or an inappropriate manner, and if they are viewed as a positive role model. More positive portrayals garner higher numerical rankings, with a GEM score of 100 being on par with the baseline for all tested ads. Scores above 100 are considered high GEM scores.

IRI explored this further with the 2021 GEM® Lift Study we recently released in partnership with SeeHer (a division of the Association of National Advertisers or ANA), the largest global movement for accurate representation of women and girls in advertising and media. The report investigated whether accurate and positive depictions of women and girls in ads have an effect in driving incremental sales lift – and the answer was a resounding yes.

The study linked depictions of women to offline sales using SeeHer's GEM (Gender Equality Measure) with IRI Lift, a rigorous media measurement and optimization solution that uses sales outcomes as the core metric for both measurement and optimization at a household level. The 2021 study measured 29 creatives across six brands from SeeHer members PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, L'Oréal, General Mills and Kimberly-Clark. It also measured 837 aired programs across myriad platforms.

The results were compelling and undeniable:

  • The ads with the highest GEM scores had the highest sales lift.
  • Television programs with high GEM scores generated higher sales lift compared to shows with medium representation and far outpaced programs with low GEM scores.
  • In 2019, a GEM score of 100 or greater drove sales lift, but in 2021, the baseline for success in achieving sales lift was a GEM score of 106. This suggests that the movement to portray women and girls more accurately is moving the needle.
  • Perception of what is "appropriate" in female portrayals has shifted 15% as consumers become more discerning and demand more accurate portrayals of women. Related to this trend, there has been a double-digit decline in the most objectionable ads.
  • Ads with GEM scores of 106 or above delivered 60% improved sales performance overall across viewers of all genders, languages, races and ethnicities measured.
  • High-GEM ads produced 41% sales lift among Hispanic women and 80% sales lift among Black women.
  • Ads with 106 or higher GEM scores produced 12% incremental sales lift for women but a whopping 81% sales lift for men, indicating strong allyship from men in supporting women's equality.

A Case Study: Pure Leaf Tea

PepsiCo Partners' Pure Leaf iced teas feature a "no" process for brewing iced tea: No artificial flavors, no tea powders and no concentrates. The brand's "No Is Beautiful" campaign aligns with this approach by encouraging consumers to say no to things that don't matter so they can say yes to more things that do.

The campaign was influenced by Pure Leaf research indicating that 85% of women say that taking on too many tasks negatively affects their quality of life, and 86% agree that being able to say no to more undesired asks would feel liberating. The campaign's theme was also informed by SeeHer research showing that messages of self-care and support are narratives that women desire.

The campaign succeeded in delivering significant increases in sales among all women measured. And one Pure Leaf ad with a GEM score of 111 saw 119% sales lift compared to its lowest-scored ad of 100 among all diverse women groups.

A New Measure of Impact

The GEM Lift methodology gauges the equality of ads, provides campaign reads for TV and layers these inputs with shopper and sales data. The data sources include more than 500 million frequent shopper loyalty cards from multiple retailers as well as IRI's complete market coverage across all outlets, using both consumer panel and point-of-sale data.

With GEM Lift, advertisers can answer and respond to critical questions that include:

  • What is the overall incremental sales impact or lift of my GEM-scored ad campaign?
  • What publishers and networks provide the highest sales impact?
  • Which creative message, publishers and placement strategy should I adjust to optimize impact?
  • Which target audiences best respond to cross tactics like programming and creative?
  • What combination of programming and creative worked best?

In a world where accurate, positive portrayals of women and girls produce tangible sales benefits, GEM Lift highlights the messages, outlets, audiences and campaigns that work best. In the process, it assists you in pinpointing the best ways to promote positive societal change and better business results at the same time.

IRI Named a Leader in Marketing Measurement and Optimization Solutions

Forrester Research has released its newest "The Forrester Wave™: Marketing Measurement and Optimization Solutions, Q1 2022" report, and it names IRI as a Leader. The report evaluated IRI and nine other providers across 35 criteria to demonstrate the strengths of each provider and assist marketers in their search for the one that best meets their needs.

IRI Fusion™, IRI's unified marketing measurement and optimization solution, was the key IRI product evaluated, and it received the highest scores possible in key criteria, including Proprietary Data, Marketing Dashboards and Reports, Marketing Strategy Consulting, Business Strategy Consulting, Use Case: Business Disruption, Product Vision and Innovation Roadmap.

The Forrester report notes that "IRI stands strong with data expertise and dynamic marketing insights. IRI's robust Liquid Data Platform, which includes loyalty card, customer preference, and social listening data, anchors the company's services-driven marketing measurement solution, IRI Fusion™."

The report also states that "IRI continues to be the vendor of choice for CPG or retail marketers because of its expertise in dynamic marketing drivers like media, trade, creative, and promotion." It continues: "References are happy with IRI insights and account management services backed by 'phenomenal' data experts." In another comment, the report says that "Companies that want to partner with marketing and media experts and want access to diverse data sources should consider IRI."

A complimentary copy of "The Forrester Wave™: Marketing Measurement and Optimization Solutions, Q1 2022" report is available for a limited time here.

Harness the Power of Retail Media Networks

Retail media networks can provide a perfect opportunity to promote a brand and convert a sale. With reliable first-party customer data, brands can target different audience segments with highly personalized ad campaigns and measure the sales impact and ROI of their ads more accurately to optimize campaigns for maximum performance.

With its foundation of customer analytics, segmentation and campaign measurement, IRI Liquid Data® connects to best-in-class media activation platforms to ensure brand and retailer success with retail media networks. Based on IRI's long history with and deep understanding of retailers, CPG suppliers and the customers both of them serve, our solution provides a number of unique benefits including:

Shopper Analytics with Activation Integration

Leveraging over 40 years of shopper analytics trained on the largest CPG data set in North America, IRI is the leader in understanding shopper behavior. Proven analytic reports are organized to help support business processes, from launching new items to identifying lapsed customers. A simple click pulls customers from a report and brings them into IRI's audience builder application for further refinement and media activation across all your retail media channels.

Collaboration Through a Complete Closed-Loop Process

Traditional marketing technology tools are usually built for a small group of internal users. But IRI Liquid Data puts the customer in the center of a retailer and allows permissioned suppliers to be a part of the marketing process. This provides the scale needed to support relevant campaigns and joint business planning. Suppliers can help identify business opportunities, select the most relevant consumers and collaborate with retailers on campaign optimization.

In-Campaign Optimization with Post-Campaign Tracking

As the leader in CPG measurement across retailer media, open web and walled gardens, we're trusted by the largest suppliers to provide accurate incremental sale measurement wherever brands advertise. When connected directly to retail sales, IRI Lift Measurement can provide in-campaign measurement to optimize targeting, creative, media channels, frequency and more. And what is truly unique is the ability to track ad-exposed customers after a campaign ends and still be able to identify new buyers, retarget for repeat ones and build customer lifetime value.

IRI's Jennifer Pelino recently spoke at the Advertising Research Foundation's SHOPPER 2022 conference on the rise of retail media networks, detailing the key trends driving their growth and their role as full-service media houses. Watch the 20-minute talk, which included insights from Caroline Liu, senior director, supplier insights and audience science, of Walgreens Advertising Group about the Walgreens retail media network.

For more info, visit Retail Media for Manufacturers or Retail Media for Retailers, talk to your IRI representative or email us at

IRI Helps RampUp Panel "Power Innovation from the Data Layer"

IRI's Jennifer Pelino joined a panel of brand, data and technology leaders at LiveRamp's recent RampUp event for a discussion on how the data foundation they maintain has become core to their companies' ability to innovate and better understand what audiences want.

Visit the RampUp 2022 Highlights page to view this full talk (under the "Collaborate to Innovate" tab) and other keynotes and sessions. They feature some of marketing and technology's best minds coming together for insights on how to unify and collaborate to solve today's shared challenges.

The Affordable Ad Playbook for Smaller CPG Brands

In a recent blog post, IRI President of Global Products and Solutions Nishat Mehta shared three of the best "bang for your buck" ad strategies for brands on limited budgets that could never afford some of the heavy price tags for a 30-second spot during the big events.

Whether in partnership with a third-party data company like IRI or using your brand's own consumer data, you can tell your story effectively and drive growth on a small budget by:

  1. Sharing your full story with targeted AVOD consumers. Ad-supported services like Hulu, Peacock and Roku offer engaged viewers the ability to pinpoint audiences based on historical behavior and content consumption, and the opportunity to support better targeting with BYO data.
  2. Embracing social media. These platforms give you the ability to achieve great ROAS on any budget, to create custom audiences created with the help of your first- or third-party data and to optimize your campaigns with A/B testing and other tools.
  3. Exploring retail media. Retailer programs can allow supplier partners to collaborate on in-store and online marketing and promotions using purchase-based data from the retailer's loyalty programs – with the ability to limit your spending to the places where you have distribution.

For more details on these tactics, read the blog post here.

Upcoming Events

The IRI team regularly presents at top industry events. Here's what's coming up:

April 12–14, 2022 – Advertising Research Foundation AUDIENCExSCIENCE
Liz Ryan from IRI Media and Lisa Mulyk from IRI's Strategic Solutions Group will share a case study on how a multinational consumer goods company leveraged purchase signals to drive growth and set smarter baselines for future campaigns. Mike Tscherwinski from IRI Media and Will Schlafly from Kraft Heinz will also be speaking as part of the Audience-Driven Trends in Media track during the event.

Learn More

June 30, 2022 – Path to Purchase Institute Retail Media Summit
IRI's Mike Ellgass and a member of Walgreens Advertising Group will share six attributes brands should look for when analyzing retail media networks and how brands can maximize their investment in this increasingly important advertising channel.

To see how you can drive greater ROI from your media investments, please contact your IRI representative or