BrandsNewsGroup Black CEO: ‘Monopolistic media is bad for society and viewers’

On stage at CES, Travis Montaque in conversation about building connection and community in a non-stop world.
Marcom Weekly StaffJanuary 10, 2023
Group Black CEO Travis Montaque at CES Connections and Community
Group Black CEO Travis Montaque at CES Connections and Community 2

In today’s fast-paced world, capturing and maintaining the attention of consumers can be a daunting task. With the advent of technology and the internet, the attention economy has been transformed, and it’s no longer enough to simply grab a customer’s attention, you must also capture their imagination. This is where building connection and community comes in.

One industry leader who is making waves in the field of building connection and community is Travis Montaque, a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Group Black, the largest Black-owned media collective and accelerator focused on dramatically transforming the face of media ownership and investment. He is also the founder and CEO of Holler Studios, a full-service animation production studio and creative agency focused on telling universal stories from diverse voices.

Montaque believes that building connection and community starts with personalization and humanity. In a panel interview at CES, he stated, “One of the things I’ve been deeply encouraged by, when the conversation came after George Floyd about the amount of investment that was happening in diverse-owned media Black-owned media at the time, .5% the industry stepped up and had a real conversation about what needs to happen and making commitments and pledges and we’ve seen that take place.”

He added, “The reason intentionality in where people spend their ad dollars is important is because media is one of the most important vehicles in shaping the society we live in today, right? It’s the types of stories that are told, the types of stereotypes and norms that we see are really fueled by media and advertising dollars is the fuel for that, right? And so, if we’re not investing in diverse-owned businesses then the types of stories that are greenlit are really limited to a specific point of view.”

Black newsrooms have been instrumental in elevating issues and experiences that are often overlooked or marginalized by mainstream media. This has driven publishers to collaborate in extraordinary ways forming initiatives such as the Black News Link, and organizations including Word in Black and URL Media.

For Montaque, it’s crucial to invest in diverse-owned businesses in order to ensure that a wide range of voices and stories are heard. He states, “One of the things we believe at Group Black is that monopolistic media is bad for society and it’s actually bad for the viewers on the other side of the screen. And so, for us, it’s been a really important journey of ensuring that the type that there is adequate funding of diverse-owned businesses because that means the downstream effect of that is that diverse voices and inclusive stories are told across the board. So there is that correlation.”

Montaque has been successful in his mission to promote economic inclusion and community-building, Group Black in its first 12 months, got half a billion dollars in commitments from agencies and brands to spend with Black-owned media businesses.

The company has made several high-profile hires including Kerel Cooper as president of advertising, Laura Summers as chief sales officer. Most recently, the company hired Cavel Khan as chief commercial officer and Delida Costin as chief legal officer and general counsel.

For the culture, Group Black is making unprecedented moves. As the company continues its focus on personalization and humanity, and driving investment in Black-owned businesses, the overall message to advertisers is that brands can captivate and delight customers and create engaged communities that will propel their brand, creator, or idea. As Montaque states, “I fundamentally believe inclusion is the biggest business opportunity today.”

The panel conversation, “C Space Keynote: Building Connection & Community in a Non-stop World,” was moderated by MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, and also featured guests Laura Jones, CMO of Instacart and Francine Li, global head of marketing for Riot Games.

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