In October of 2021, the SRI and Alliance Digitale introduced the first Reference Framework for Calculating the Carbon Footprint of Digital Campaigns. Created to provide a common methodological framework for calculating the CO2 footprint of digital campaigns, it offered a solid start for ad tech players across the value chain wanting to embrace sustainability.

Earlier this year, we published guidelines on how to be more sustainable in your digital advertising campaigns using this methodology. Last May, a second version of the methodology was released featuring updates and improvements to serve as a standard for sustainability. Below we take a look at some of the new additions and what they mean for the industry as we continue to work towards becoming even more sustainable.

Evolution Of The Measurement Scope

The impact of a digital campaign is measured in two main parts:

  • The allocation of advertising space which through various data exchange algorithms and a bidding system, allocates ad space to a request.
  • And the delivery of advertising once the allocation has been made – including the use of the device (computer, tablet, smartphone) to view the ad.

In the first version, usage was the only part taken into account, but it included: the energy used by the server (kWh/ko), the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), the weight of the creative (ko), and the energy mix of the country where the server is located.

The second version of the methodology now takes the full life cycle of the server into account – from manufacturing through use and end of life. This is calculated for each component involved in the process (servers, networks, and devices) with the following criteria: manufacturing emissions and server lifecycle factors, the weight of the creative (ko), the server output bandwidth (kb/s), and the average server lifetime.

Evolution Of Data Modeling And Emissions Factors

The updated version uses market averages from certified organizations to enrich its calculation with realistic, representative figures. The methodology is now aligned with the Product Category Rules (PCRs) published by ADEME. PCRs are the product’s category-specific requirements for conducting life cycle assessments.

The data used is based on work by the NegaOctet Consortium, joint studies by ADEME, ARCEP, and the French Senate report on digital technology. NegaOctet offers a methodology measuring environmental impacts that comply with French and international recommendations. The emissions factors of server manufacturing, network manufacturing, network usage (electricity), and terminal manufacturing are now based on NegaOctet’s data.

Implementing Active Path Modeling

Allocation now takes the “active paths” during the auction into account. Active path modeling is a way to calculate the number of servers involved in the auction process to assess the energy consumption used during the campaign. As a result, it more closely reflects reality and is better aligned with approaches such as Scope3.

New Device Hierarchy

The formula for calculating the carbon footprint of a device has been updated resulting in a new device hierarchy. With this new methodology, CO2 calculation of each device now considers its duration of daily use. The operating time is divided by the duration of use of the equipment over its entire service life and the new device CO2e emissions ranking is: smartphone < TV < tablet < PC.

The user’s actual exposure time is a first-order factor in calculating the impact of a device and this data must be collected at the actual control room level. For this reason, and based on experience feedback and various sources, a three-second average is used if the realistic value isn’t specified.

Measure And Reduce Your Carbon Impact With Us

The calculation methodology framework provides common ground for all players in the industry as the conversation around sustainability continues. Both SRI and Alliance Digitale will maintain an ongoing dialogue with experts to continue to update it as the industry evolves and we’ll continue to follow and share the latest developments.

We’re committed to educating ourselves and our customers, partners, and prospects as we work to reduce and monitor our CO2 emissions and play a role in the industry as a whole operating in a more sustainable way. We have designed a calculation methodology to measure and reduce the carbon impact of campaigns delivered via our programmatic solutions. By choosing less energy-consuming delivery methods, we can define a campaign setup allowing us to lower the carbon footprint of the programmatic campaign while maintaining performance.

If you’d like to do the same, reach out to discuss how we can help you measure and reduce the carbon impact of your digital campaigns.

Ready to get started?