Industry Insights
The Future of Multicultural Advertising with the CEO of Joinville

Niklas Nikolaidis Joinville

Niklas Nikolaidis



For those of us that aren’t familiar with Joinville, please tell us a little more about your offering and audience.

Joinville started as a programmatic trading desk for multicultural advertising in 2011 as we saw an increased demand for media buying services catering to companies and government agencies selling and communicating to the fast-growing multicultural communities. Unlike North America, the EU legislation prohibits classification of people according to ethnicity (or race), so the process of targeting to certain multicultural audiences is not as straightforward. So we built up databases of high-performing sites, apps and video platforms suitable for multicultural advertising together with setting up publisher marketplaces for specific audiences. This entails working a lot with Latin American, African and Asian publishers and geo-target to North American and European users.

Today, we buy all types of digital media and optimize on a hybrid model consisting of 2nd and 3rd party data layers, programmatic buys and direct site buys in order to find the right audience. Unlike mainstream campaign briefs, our briefs can be very narrow and granular as we are talking about niche audience marketing. As client demand and digital media buying skills has become more advanced and self-serve functionality is asked for, we built our own adtech SaaS platform for vertical ad buys called Mundo which is currently in open beta testing.


Spending power for multicultural and ethnic audiences has increased tremendously over the years, and brands and agencies are starting to take notice. Does the data you’ve seen internally corroborate this?

The US multicultural population is now over 120 million people and in Europe it’s 50 million people. Increased advertiser demand is clearly represented in the increase in average CPM bids we see across all programmatic channels on multicultural publishers. If we remove the generic shift in advertising dollars moving from pre-RTB ad network spend to programmatic buying, we can still see that eCPMs have increased with +100% in the last 2 years in demand for multicultural groups in certain markets. In the US, the 56 million US Hispanics are quickly becoming the main growth vehicle for companies like McDonald’s and Walmart and in Canada we see a lot of buying power growth across Asian audiences like Chinese Canadians. In Europe, we can see South Asian and Polish audiences in the UK becoming more and more attractive for advertisers as they grow in size exponentially.

On the supply side, we see certain buyers are very aggressive in their bidding for specific ethnic audiences and this trend is growing during 2015.


How does targeting, site context, and type of media differ when trying to reach a multicultural audience?

A common misconception is that you can find all multicultural users you want by targeting the browser language. In North America and in European countries, we see multicultural users from the same home country that have different language settings depending on how integrated they are in the new society. So just using the language as the decisive factor in your targeting can actually exclude up to 2/3 of your target audience, our data shows. Using Category targeting can also be a mistake. We’ve learnt that many of the planning indexations made for mainstream audiences doesn’t correspond with the Interests of a multicultural user group. A site made for travellers to Cuba can be proposed by planning systems as suitable for reaching Cuban users. A human eye can easily spot that it’s not a good match. So for solid multicultural targeting, human-curated interests and old school site targeting is a good combo. Messaging is important as well as the content needs to be culturally relevant as we can se big differences on creative performance depending on the language used in a campaign.


What is your definition of programmatic advertising? How do you see programmatic being used to more effectively reach ethnic audiences?

Programmatic to me is a way of marrying data with user targeting in a more seamless manner than the ad industry have done before. There is still a lot of data leakage happening once you move around between programmatic platforms, but give it 2 more years and targeting algorithms will be so much more effective once we have minimized the holes between different systems. The reason Joinville started early with programmatic was the ability to scale fast and get the reach for the granular multicultural targeting we would never have gotten, had we only focused on building a traditional ad network. For ethnic audience targeting, the big downside with programmatic so far is the lack of 3rd party data sets – due to various reasons (lack of knowledge from data exchanges, lack of trustworthy data sources, EU legislation limitations) – the amount of data available for 3rd party data targeting is very limited so we have to collect 2nd party data instead and build it from publisher partners to push it from our DMP. US Hispanic data is starting to reach decent levels, however other multicultural segments have very few, if any, data providers onboarding relevant data.


There’s a lot of confusion in the industry, with many vendors claiming to be able to reach any type of audience. (which may or may not be true) Has being a verticalized network, specializing in a specific niche like multicultural audiences helped in securing deals with brands & agencies?

Both yes and no. We see ourselves competing against the global ATDs which are good at reaching the larger demographics, but maybe not as good in targeting in a granular way or finding niche audience segments. So we definitely have an edge there. We also see brands coming to us at an earlier stage, involving us in the audience strategy planning and looking at data sets before the campaign flight. A scenario we thought would happen sometime but not this soon, which is great. On the other hand, for clients that want the full agency service and staffing on every digital channel imaginable, we might not be their cup of tea (yet).


What types of data, devices, and sites seem to work best when reaching ethnic audiences?

Interest (behavioral) data and 2nd party data wins over any other type of data. Some ethnic groups are extremely into specific sports or entertainment genres that the engagement around those are so much higher than mainstream user engagement (think old abuelas in the US watching soap operas, telenovelas). Multicultural users are mobile-first both in North America and in Europe so in-app ads and responsive sites are key for a successful campaign. We are also seeing native campaigns and content creation working very well for the multicultural advertising clients we have run this for in 2015. With native going programmatic in 2016, it’s a stage we will be focusing on more.


Ad fraud is a topic that is coming more in the fray in the ad industry. What are some measures Joinville has taken to a mitigate these potential issues? How do you see ad fraud playing out in the industry over the next couple years?

2015 has really been a year when some of the bigger players have taken some punches for not controlling ad fraud enough. Rightly so, I think. But since the term ad fraud wasn’t discussed much back in 2013, I believe the programmatic industry damage control teams are running faster now and will invest much more money and resources in being proactive and also run pre-bid filtering on fraudulent sites, as an example. Joinville has had a partnership with Forensiq on ad fraud where their anti-fraud technology has been tagged and monitored all our buy-side campaigns and our sell-side publisher yield operations as well. All our DSP partners also have ad fraud and verification tools to hook up next to our external tools. But it’s a tough battle, the bad guys are ahead at the moment, but I think their head start will be eliminated once the industry has outgrown the programmatic infancy stage. If programmatic will survive as a marketing channel, then ad fraud needs to be dealt with to cut the +20% numbers down to lower single-digit numbers.


What do you think is the biggest misconception about multicultural audiences?

That multicultural audiences are not digitally savvy or that there is a digital divide between them and the mainstream population. The multicultural population is, in general, younger than the overall population and mobile and web tools are important channels for people who have moved to another country to stay in touch with family and friends. As more and more languages other than English is being consumed online, the platforms and vendors we use must follow those changes as well.


Is there any data or trends you can share on media consumption habits and consumer spend for multicultural audiences?

US Hispanic media ad spend growth outperformed English media ad spend 20:1 from 2010 to 2014 among the top 500 US advertisers. ($7.1B Source: Nielsen/AHAA) So brands are gearing up for the demographic shift that is happening in a couple of years. For a brand, it’s important to be visible on not just 1 platform as multicultural audiences are on several niche ones. We can see that Facebook is the biggest social media network but Chinese social media giants like QQ, Qzone and WeChat are also +650M user networks where overseas Chinese are spending most of their time.


Lastly, what do you see as the future of multicultural marketing?

Multicultural marketing has been played too much as a gated community where multicultural marketing agencies have guarded their territory with storytelling afraid of letting others in. I think that is a very bad strategy. The future holds great potential for the companies and platforms able to merge unique data from ethnic audiences with algorithms and bidders configured after the buying and conversion patterns of multicultural users.



Joinville is an advertising technology platform for multicultural advertising bought and sold in real-time between buyers and sellers.

Joinville was founded in 2011 and with over 500 global and multicultural online campaigns we aim to expand the fields of multicultural advertising and web marketing in the years to come. With an ever growing client base including brands like McDonald’s, Walmart, Volkswagen, Mastercard, L’Oreal, Emirates, Asda, KLM, Lebara Mobile, Western Union and more.