Gender Equality in Advertising

How Can Marketers Test Gender Equality in Advertising?

In recent years, marketers have become increasingly aware of unconscious bias and inequalities in their advertising creative.  This bias has shown up in a big way against women and girls, with ads casting them in traditional, powerless roles that don’t look anything like who they are today.  It has also shown up in ad creative featuring African American, Hispanic and other multicultural groups that have been too often cast in subservient roles.

A tremendous amount of research has now been done by marketing and advertising associations, and by research providers, to shed light on the situation and make recommendations for change.  Several key studies and programs will be profiled below.

Unpacking Gender Bias in Advertising

On June 21, 2017, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media revealed key findings from their research into women’s representation in Advertising at the Cannes Lions. In collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, the study analyzed more than 2,000 films through automated analysis from the Cannes Lions archive (English language only).

Men get about four times as much screen time as women. The study, “Unpacking Gender Bias in Advertising,” revealed:

  • Men speak seven times more than women
  • There are twice as many male characters in ads as females
  • 25% of ads feature men only
  • Only 5% of ads feature women only
  • 18% of ads feature only male voices, while less than 3% feature female voices only

The article shared additional research conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media such as age, location, objectification and other features associated with prominent characters such as:

  •  Women in ads are mostly in their 20s while men are in their 20s, 30s and 40s
  • 1 in 10 female characters are shown in sexually revealing clothing
  • Men are 62% more likely to be shown as smart
  • Women are much more likely to be shown in the kitchen while men are shown at sporting events
  • 1 in 3 men are shown with an occupation compared to 1 in 4 women

Gender Equality Measurement Study – ANA, #SeeHer and ABX

SeeHer-ANA-ABXIn recognition of the growing concern for how women and girls were portrayed in the media, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) created the #SeeHer program.  The program launched in June of 2016 after the White House identified unconscious gender bias as a leading issue.  #SeeHer was established to improve the accurate portrayal of women and girls in media by 20% by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S. 

ABX developed a methodology to measure gender bias and a set of norms which enable the ANA to benchmark progress toward the 2020 goal.  The resulting Gender Equality Measure™ (GEM™) is now the global standard for measurement of unconscious gender bias. The four key variables were shared with the US advertising research community at the 2017 Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Conference.  The ABX data developed for the GEM™ is also available directly here

Improving gender portrayal is not only a positive social objective, but it is also a profitable business strategy.  ABX was able to combine gender data with advertising effectiveness data to show the correlation between positive gender scores and positive brand reputation and higher call to action, including purchase intent.  As a result, the ANA, #SeeHer and ABX were honored by ESOMAR, the world’s premiere market research association, as the 2017 ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award Winners.

Exhibit 1: Correlation between Gender Ad Scores, Brand Reputation, and Call-to-Action performance


Work is now being done to expand this study to Multicultural groups to make sure people of all ethnicities are respectfully represented.  ABX also worked with the #SeeHer team to apply these measures to the evaluation of TV content.  Over 675 TV shows have been evaluated for their portrayal of women and girls with data being updated twice a year.

New research released by ANA’s #SeeHer movement, in collaboration with TiVo, demonstrates that ads that portray women accurately work even better when paired with programming that also portrays women accurately. Using GEM™ scores across select consumer packaged goods advertising and the programs they aired within, the research showed that ads with a high GEM™ score generated double-digit incremental sales per-rating-point post ad exposure, when they’re aired on shows that also have a high GEM™ score. 

ABX also applies these measures to the evaluation of TV content.  90% of the top TV shows are evaluated for their portrayal of women and girls (as well as men and boys) with the data being updated twice a year.

Research shows that when ads with positive GEM™ scores are placed on shows with positive GEM™ scores, sales lift increases by 16%.  The ANA/SeeHer program works with major advertisers to move $billions of ad buys to gender positive shows.

Unstereotyping our Ads

In an American Marketing Association article, “Unilever Commits to Realistic Gender Depiction in Ads,” Zach Brooke reported on a landmark Unilever primary and secondary research initiative that would shake the advertising industry. The initiative (five in total) ran in more than 25 markets over the past two years to learn how female identity is evolving and how advertising is portraying women and gender overall. The goal of this research was to build the case for changing female and overall gender portrayals in Unilever’s advertising. 

After reviewing more than 1,000 ads it was found that 50% have elements which portray women in a stereotypical way.

And, the numbers weren’t much better for men. Time to make a change. Unilever’s study also found 40% of women don’t relate to the women they see in advertising; a huge opportunity to improve brand relationships with key customers. 

Keith Weed, former Unilever’s Chief Marketing & Communications Manager, created a three-part approach to shifting Unilever advertising based on the role, personality and appearance of people in the ads: 

  1. Portray people in roles that relate to their aspirations and broader achievements rather than just their responsibilities;
  2. Show characters with personalities that feel authentic, distinctive and characterful; and
  3. Represent diverse appearances and beauty in a way that is enjoyable, non-critical and a positive source of self-expression. 

Unilever has seen a 24% increase in progressive consumer assessments of Unilever ads.  Unstereotyping our ads: Why it’s important and where we are, 6/16/2016.  For more about the Unstereotype Alliance, click here.  


Leave a Reply

Jeff Schamel

Vice President, Operations

Jeff Schamel Directs Operations for ABX with Experience from IPSOS and P&G

Jeff has more than 25 years of market research experience including project management, client service, operations, production and sales.

Before joining the ABX Senior Management team, Jeff was a Senior Account Manager at Ipsos, working with Procter & Gamble and other client assignments. Prior to that, he was Senior Project Manager for Opinion One, where he was responsible for guiding the company’s online, mall and other initiatives for eight years.

Jeff began his market research career with Cooper Research while participating in the Professional Practice Program at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon graduating with his BS in Marketing and Management, Jeff led a team of data analysts as Group Manager at Matrixx Marketing Research (now Concentrix).

Jeff’s broad in-depth marketing research experiences enable him to bring a unique perspective to directing operations that creates effective and efficient environments to support a wide range of client activities.  Having come up in the industry alongside the advent and progression of online interviewing, he has a unique perspective on the benefits and challenges of conducting quality research resulting in meaningful results.

Jeff considers himself an amateur music historian and sports enthusiast, as well as a family man, who takes advantage of the many outdoor activities in his community including biking, hiking, kayaking and swimming.

Dr. Peter Moomaw

Co-Founder, Vice President, Development

Peter is the primary developer of operations technology and data analysis. As a chief visionary on the Research and Development team, Peter works to generate innovative ideas for the continued development of processes and protocols.

Peter brings 17+ years’ experience in software development in the market research industry. He was previously at Opinion One, where he was integral in the development of research software systems covering a number of areas.

Peter has a BA in Mathematics, a BS in Physics, and a PhD in Physics, all from the University Cincinnati.

Martin Geraghty
Martin Geraghty

Vice President, Client Services

Geraghty Brings Experience from Roper Starch, GfK, MRI and IPSOS to ABX

Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the market research space including business development, methodology, product design, operations, client service, analysis and sales. He is a member the ABX Management Group with both client-service and operational responsibilities. Before joining ABX, Martin held senior management positions at Roper Starch Worldwide, GfK, MRI (Mediamark Research) and Ipsos. At Ipsos, he managed client service covering all aspects of the research process including research design. He managed the development and implementation of several brand and advertising measurement programs across a broad range of business sectors, helping clients maximize marketing objectives and return on investment. Prior to joining Ipsos, Martin was Vice President at MRI and was involved in business development, day-to-day management and long-term planning and growth for syndicated and custom programs. He also developed and updated the organization’s operational infrastructure to bring new and improved measurements to the marketplace. Before joining MRI, Martin was a Vice President of Operations at GfK. He managed researchers developing programs to monitor and improve methodologies. He played a key role in overseeing profit responsibility of client programs. Prior to his role at GfK, he was Vice President of Research and Operations at Roper Starch Worldwide.
Michael Alf

Co-Founder Ocucom and ABX, Vice President, Software Development

Michael Alf Brings 12 Years’ Software Engineering in the Market Research Industry

Michael is one Founders of Ocucom, of which ABX is a division, and has over 12 years’ of software engineering experience in the market research industry. As a Lead Software Engineer with Ocucom, he brings a unique blend of a technological background along with hands-on market research experience. Michael specializes in providing custom software solutions utilizing Ocucom’s dynamic software platform to address unique client needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Prior to starting with Ocucom, Michael was a senior software engineer at Opinion One in Cincinnati, where he was one of the principal architects of the OASIS 2 Survey Software Package. He also played a key role in developing a licensable solution to bring to the market place as well as handling the logistics of on-site training and support of end-client users.

Michael obtained his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati.

Greg Tunstill

Co-Founder, Chief Information Officer

Greg Tunstill Leads the Creation of ABX Communications Tools

Greg Tunstill, a founder of ABX, is the Chief Information Officer responsible for ABX’s technical infrastructure and maintenance. He also leads the design and development of ABX’s communications tools, a critical component of its technology services.

Prior to joining ABX, Greg was Director of Network Operations of Opinion One since its inception in 1992. He designed and developed the communications systems that were the core of its data collection networks and was responsible for continuing development and implementation of information technologies. Prior to his position at Opinion One, he designed inventory control and expert systems for BellSouth field offices and worked as a consultant and independent contractor. In 1991 he joined Americom Research as a systems engineer where he advanced to Director of Network Operations and met members of the team that formed Opinion One.

Greg is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Julian Brown

Chief Technology Officer

Julian Brown is an ABX Founder and Chief Visionary for Strategic Planning

Julian brings 20+ years of software engineering and market research experience to ABX. As one of the Founders and in his position as Chief Technology Officer, Julian is the chief visionary responsible for strategic planning and development.

His primary day to day roles include management of software development, oversight of survey production, and lead architect for custom software development projects. As the principal technology architect, Julian adapts emerging technologies for use in market research. He is responsible for maintaining the “continuous development” philosophy.

Before becoming one of the Founders, Julian was Vice President, Software Engineering at Opinion One. In this capacity, he was responsible for the design and development of Opinion One’s core technology and licensing products.

Prior to Opinion One, Julian worked for Americom Research, starting as a Software Engineer and progressing to Director, Software Development. While at Americom Research, Julian pioneered the design and creation of one of the market research industry’s first fully interactive computer-aided interviewing suites.

Julian received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Middle Tennessee State University.

Gary Getto


A Pioneer in Measuring Across all Media Types

Gary has an extensive background in product development, strategic planning, and sales/marketing. He is a frequent speaker to the advertising, marketing, and public relations communities.

Gary is a pioneer in efforts to measure and analyze the combined impact of news coverage, social media, and advertising communications on key business metrics, such as sales or product preferences, with ground-breaking work linking communications activity to business outcomes. He was also one of the first to apply artificial intelligence to better understand how communications impacts consumer behavior.

As part of these pioneering integrated measurements, the need to benchmark every ad and build a comprehensive database of advertising performance metrics for evaluating all advertising creative became clear. Gary has been part of the ABX management group that developed the methodology, technology, and criteria for measuring advertising performance globally, and at scale, in an affordable manner. 

Now Gary and all ABX partners work with communications leaders across a diverse set of industries to expand that understanding by incorporating the first-ever Gender Equality Index™, creative measurement solutions for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out-of-country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit™, Gaming, Audio and more.

Gary holds a B.S., in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University and a Masters in Management Science from Stevens Institute of Technology.

J. J. Klein​

Chairman & CEO

Developing Valid and Reliable Information through Syndicated and Custom Research

JJ Klein has devoted his entire career to developing more valid and reliable information through syndicated and custom longitudinal research programs for Fortune 500 companies. This extensive knowledge base enabled him to create and develop ABX, which now offers the most accurate normative database for advertising effectiveness measurement in the marketplace.

JJ brings more than 35 years of marketing, research, consulting, and technology experience in designing and developing methodologies and programs for long-term growth. He has exceptional strength in domestic and international new business development, strategic planning, and identifying and tracking consumer, retail, and industry trends.

Leadership in Top Global Research Firms

Early in his career, after attending City University in New York as a math and science major, JJ joined Simmons Market Research Bureau as a Project Director. Over time, he rose to Associate Executive Vice President. Among his accomplishments, JJ created the first online interactive data analysis and delivery system for agencies, media, institutions, client, and service companies.  

JJ and Bill Simmons then founded a new venture …Three Sigma Research Center. It was here that JJ, Chief Operating Officer, created the first major syndicated rating system for Newspapers in the U.S., which later became the Scarborough Report. Three Sigma Research was eventually sold back to Simmons; Simmons sold it to Scarborough; and then Scarborough was acquired by Nielsen.

Following the sale of Three Sigma, JJ joined Audits & Surveys Worldwide as a principal leading the sales tracking and market share audits for a broad range of retail and service establishments both domestically and internationally. Following the acquisition of Audits & Surveys by GfK, JJ joined Roper Starch as Executive Director, reporting directly to the Chairman.

Creation and Development of Ocucom™ and ABX™

In 2004, as he continued his industry visionary travels, all of JJ’s experience came together as he tackled new solutions for market research in the Internet age. He and four partners founded Ocucom™ and invented a research-proven, respondent-oriented Ocular™ approach to internet sampling and multi-modal interviewing methodology. For the first time, respondents could answer text-based questions within a visual communication world where the computer screen was the interviewer/communicator. Inventions continued such as Ocucom’s PreCast™, the first long-form video viewing solution in the industry.

Also, during this time, JJ’s early leadership in internet research methodology caught the eye of top-tier global research competitors. He ended up designing methodologies for their online survey capabilities.

Then, in early 2012, he formed ABX™ as an outgrowth of Ocucom. JJ had conceived the idea for ABX some 15 years prior but had to wait for internet maturation and online panel/sampling companies to evolve. ABX partners focused on JJ’s ABX concept and methodology by building an infrastructure and a 5-year formative database before opening to the market in 2018. The new company offered the first high-quality Ocular research system for all ads in all media types with detailed, never-before analytics; the first syndicated, all-media type ad effectiveness platform; results in 24-to-48 hours on dashboard, and significantly lower costs. At ABX, as at Ocucom, inventions have continued such as the expansion of the ABX syndicated program into the first-ever global solution, and the first Gender Equality Index™. Solutions have expanded to include creative measurement for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out of country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit, Gaming, Audio, and more.

A Career Devoted to Validity and Reliability in Market Research

JJ’s background brings together an extremely unique blend of extensive experience in designing and developing global and regional longitudinal research programs. His accomplishments include the design and initiation of programs and methods that produce more valid and reliable information. They also include contributions to the market research profession through association membership, speaking, writing, and presenting.

Like Nielsen for TV, Arbitron for Radio, and MRI for Magazine, JJ’s original design for the newspaper program continues as the Scarborough Report ratings standard for Newspaper.  Today, JJ leads ABX as a syndicated and custom research service for ad effectiveness and gender equality, which have quickly become the gold standards of their own.

Angela Jeffrey, APR

Vice President, Brand Management

National Award-Winning Veteran of Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing

Angela is an internationally known speaker and national award-winning veteran of public relations, advertising and marketing.  She has been a teacher and leader in the use of metrics to measure communications impact for over 20 years, especially at the intersection of PR and Advertising.

Angela is primarily responsible for all ABX marketing efforts, and for projects that involve PR or social media measurement. She is the primary driver of our collaboration with the prestigious Institute for Public Relations as we develop methods to measure the impact of PR and social media on advertising effectiveness.

Prior to joining ABX, Angela was Strategy Director at Salience Insight, (now CARMA), a global provider of PR effectiveness measurement. Previously, she was a Vice President at Surveillance Data, Inc., an international analytics powerhouse that specializes in predictive modeling. Angela continued as a key leader upon the sale of her division to VMS and helped develop Vantage, with Gary Getto, the first platform to measure the combined impact of PR and Advertising.

Angela graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Journalism and BBA in Marketing.



Diane Light Waight

Vice President, Business Development

Diane Light Waight handles Sales, Business Development, and Marketing for ABX

Diane has 20+ years of experience helping Marketing, Advertising, and PR decision-makers at global brands, media companies, and agencies increase their ROI by connecting and authentically engaging their target customers through Sales, Business Development. MarTech, AdTech, Big Data, Market Research, SaaS, eCommerce, and Integrated Marketing.

She is passionate about her family, entertainment, health & wellness, empowering women, and environmental sustainability.