Group Black: A Journey of Gratitude and Challenges

By Travis Montaque, Co-Founder & CEO of Group Black

As Advertising Week returns, I find myself reflecting on the journey that Group Black embarked on just over two years ago. Our mission is to revolutionize equitable ownership in media and investment, and we have made remarkable progress. For that, I want to take this opportunity to thank our industry for embracing the change that our mission demands. You could have remained silent, but you didn’t. You have shown an appetite to connect with diverse audiences and spur them into action. This is a collective effort.

For our part, we have built the infrastructure, measurement capabilities, and operational teams for over 250 Black-owned media companies, enabling us to compete with anyone across the industry. Our dedicated partners like NBCU, Disney, Nielsen, and Double Verify have worked hand in hand with us to achieve the level of operational excellence we all expect. This has translated into significant business impacts for our clients including:

  • Over a 70% Video Completion Rate versus the client’s expected goal of 50% for one of the world’s largest advertisers.
  • A 30% surge in foot traffic with one of the largest QSRs.
  • Top 5 audio media partners for a top retail brand

Our client base has increased 200% year over year and these clients have increased spend with us despite a challenging climate. These brands understand the impact of reaching audiences authentically and have seen substantial growth as a result. In turn, our collective has reaped the rewards.

“Being part of Group Black’s collective has been a game-changer for my business,” said Lynwood Bibbens, CEO and founder of ReachTV. “The continued access to content creators has propelled us forward in ways we never imagined. Their creativity and expertise have injected new life into our brand, sparking innovation and driving growth.”

“Group Black’s collective has provided a seamless avenue for brands to invest in diverse-owned media, be it in TV, audio, or experiential ventures,” said Gary Coichy, Founder and CEO of Pod Digital. “This inclusive approach has significantly boosted revenue for Pod Digital and expanded our horizons. We’re no longer limited by barriers but fueled by opportunities.”

“Collaborating with Group Black has delivered tangible, measurable improvements for our business,” said Samantha Skey, CEO of She Media. “Since our partnership began, 270 of our Black-owned sites have experienced a substantial 43% increase in earnings per page, creating a significant positive impact for these publishers.”

“Group Black has profoundly altered the trajectory of our company and given us much to celebrate and be grateful for,” said Ryan Johnson, founder of Cxmmunity Media. “In the diverse media landscape, having a coach, mentor, and guide is essential. Group Black provides exactly that, enabling members of the collective to grow and expand, and for this, we are truly thankful.”

Group Black has also had a significant impact on over 70 Black-owned businesses outside of the media realm, spanning from production to creative to catering, and more.

However, this progress has not been without its challenges. Three critical issues stand out in my mind as topics worth discussing. First and foremost is the perception surrounding Black-owned media – most specifically the misconception on issues such as scale, effectiveness, and sophistication. To date, there have not been forums for Black-owned media to discuss these topics in earnest. This is why investing in events like Advertising Week holds tremendous importance for us. Even thinking about Cannes, just two years ago, Black-owned media was absent at one of the largest festivals of creativity in the world. Group Black identified that gap and worked diligently to fill it, bringing our culture to Cannes for the first time.

The second challenge lies in the false narrative that underpins the business impact of investing in Black-owned media. Brand investments have proven not just effective but, in fact, highly efficient. The fact that we’ve grown our client base 4X, despite the industry’s well-documented macroeconomic challenges, is a testament to our success.

The third challenge revolves around the financial landscape for Black-owned media. Historical underinvestment in the category has left some painful scars. The current situation in regard to unmet commitments has created false hope about the realities of growth for the industry. On a more granular level, challenges with payment terms continue to put pressure on the ecosystem. In many cases, we have net 60 day payment terms but are getting paid on average of 150 days. This situation has a cascading effect, resulting in delayed payments to our partners and added pressure on the industry as a whole. As a startup, our resources are inevitably stretched to meet this mismatch in payment terms. However, we have worked with agencies and partners to rectify payment terms and alternative financing methods.

Despite such challenges, we are unwavering in our mission. To overcome a roadblock is to drive change. The brands that have partnered with us have witnessed amazing results, and we eagerly anticipate moving forward together.