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Tackling the Environmental Impact of Digital Advertising

It is increasingly important for companies to track the environmental impact of their produced video content and video advertising. New Digital Age recently reported that the internet contributes more than 3.7% of all global emissions, of which online video now represents 80%, and is expected to grow exponentially by as much as 25% per year.

With many more individuals and companies producing video content, we now see the gap closing between them and the volume of people consuming it, with calls for an industry-wide effort to reduce the environmental impact.

The advertising industry uses a high volume of processing power to deliver digital video and display advertising, via programmatic and data-driven approaches, paired with an improvement in high-quality creative assets.

Advertisers, agencies, and media partners need to collaborate to reduce their impact. There is no uniform approach, but we highlight below several areas and approaches that they should be thinking about to reduce digital processing and environmental impact of digital campaigns.

Data processing

One pivotal area demanding attention is data processing. It is imperative to encourage the reuse of data processing outputs across various facets of an advertiser's business, agency, or media partners. Exploring the use of renewable energy sources for data processing by media partners is another avenue that can optimise campaign activity, diverting it away from less eco-friendly traffic. Embracing custom campaign bidding approaches focused on efficiency metrics, such as viewability and attention-based criteria, not only enhances campaign performance but also contributes to reducing emissions.

Inventory Supply

Educating advertisers on the intricacies of the digital supply chain is paramount. This involves pinpointing emission hotspots at each stage of the supply chain. Additionally, supporting media partners in excluding sites from their inventory supply that fail to meet sustainability thresholds is a proactive step towards reducing environmental impact. Implementing technologies that stream video content only when actively viewed, automatically pausing during inactive periods, is a practical approach within the inventory supply chain.

Creative and On-Site/App Experience

Examining the creative and on-site/app experience is crucial for minimising environmental impact. Scrutinising colours, brightness, and font usage in ads, and reevaluating the necessity for high-definition assets, can significantly contribute to a greener digital landscape. Utilising online tools to optimise creative images for improved loading speed and encouraging the reuse of existing assets prevent unnecessary production. Exploring features like Dark Mode Browsing, which enhances user experience and speed, can result in a 32% increase in conversion rates, as reported by Google.

Example Partner Initiatives

Several initiatives from industry partners exemplify a commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of digital campaigns. Scope3's integration with safety partner IAS measures digital campaigns' carbon emissions, enabling advertisers to optimise away from high-emission, low-performing inventory. Sharethrough builds custom private marketplaces (PMPs) contributing a percentage of CPMs to carbon removal projects, aligning advertising efforts with environmental sustainability. Greenbids develops custom bidding algorithms for digital campaigns, optimising for media KPIs while concurrently reducing carbon output against sustainability goals. Seen This provides adtech that minimises carbon emissions through lower data transfers on ad campaigns, estimated to be 25% lower than conventional technology.

Brands must choose strategies that best accommodate their sustainability goals, while achieving their advertising objectives. The time to measure impact is now, so that collectively we as an industry can adapt and thrive.