When it comes to sustainability, consumers have traditionally focused on products and packaging. But, their expectations of business efforts around sustainability are changing. Sixty-two percent of consumers who responded to a 2022 Higher Impact study indicated sustainability has become more important to them than ever over the past three years. This aligns with a 2021 study conducted by dentsu and Microsoft in which 77% of consumers want to only spend money with brands practicing green and sustainable advertising by 2026.
Currently, the internet accounts for roughly 4% of all global carbon emissions and this number is expected to double by 2025. Research from Good-Loop shows the typical digital ad campaign emits 5.4 tons of CO2 – a third of what the average US consumer produces in a year. It’s clear that sustainability should – and will – be a key topic for the industry in the coming years and ad tech companies, agencies, brands, and publishers can all play a critical role in making progress toward becoming more sustainable.
The creation of each ad, the allocation of ad space, the distribution and storage of ad content, the use of the delivery device, campaign reporting, and data management all add a layer of emissions to any digital advertising campaign. But, despite our industry not being inherently green, it doesn’t mean we can’t work towards being better. The shift we’re seeing across the industry in embracing the conversation around sustainability is the first step in the right direction.
What Can The Digital Advertising Industry Do?
There’s no such thing as a perfect solution. In the meantime, we must start to discuss more reasonable uses of the energy the industry naturally requires. Many are choosing to begin by measuring their CO2 emissions. Indeed, measuring, monitoring, and reducing the CO2 emissions of the entire delivery process is a great place to start.
Every company should know how its business contributes to climate change. By measuring the impact of servers, office supplies, commutes, and travel, every organization should be able to calculate and monitor its carbon emissions. Carbon accounting is a good way to manage costs and increase revenue while also demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and transparency.
All players in the advertising ecosystem can then apply the same logic to understanding and monitoring the carbon footprint of their digital offerings.
First, to decrease carbon impact, determine the main factors contributing to climate change. One of the biggest factors is the energy required to serve and download ad content in real time.
Doing Something Is Better Than Doing Nothing
While no perfect solution exists, we’re starting to see effort around creating industry guidelines. One of these solutions is the IAB Europe’s Green Media Standard. Their Sustainability Standards Committee is working with industry stakeholders to provide practical and measurable steps to reduce the amount of energy consumed and carbon emissions produced through the use of digital media.
But, striking the right balance will require the entire industry to come together, and things like this take time. Global standardized solutions will be necessary to significantly improve our impact. In the meantime, we can all start to discuss more reasonable uses of the energy our industry naturally requires.
Want to learn more? Check out our Sustainability Guide!