Sustainability is one of the burning issues of the 21st century and one that is increasingly being discussed at the highest levels of the advertising industry.

Yes, the cause is noble, but now advertising executives are increasingly beginning to see the cost savings and new business opportunities of embracing such thinking.

The Ad Net Zero Report from the Advertising Association cites a 2020 study of UK executives noting that 71% of respondents are concerned about the potential negative impact the advertising industry could have on the environment. Additionally, 91% said employers who take positive steps to reduce their carbon footprint are likely to increase their job satisfaction.

Harriet Kingaby, co-president of the Conscious Advertising Network, told Digiday how the rise of technologies like AI has prompted many marketers to think about the impact of digital on their brands’ CSR commitments.

“A lot of these technologies like NFTs and so on use a lot of carbon,” she said, referring to a study by the University of Cambridge which details how Bitcoin mining uses more electricity than nations the size of Argentina, Pakistan or Sweden.

“As we use these types of technologies more and more, it’s really important that they don’t increase the carbon load of their ad placements,” Kingaby added. “If we think about how brands have tried to think about making their physical supply chains carbon neutral, it makes sense that their digital supply chains are following suit.”

Such notions have also caught the attention of some of the biggest names in the industry, with serial ad tech entrepreneur Brian O’Kelley making sustainability the central focus of his latest venture Scope3. Kingaby and O’Kelley say media agencies have increasingly begun mirroring public sustainability promises from their consumer-facing clients over the past 12 months, with consumers noting how ad tech companies using such goods are beginning to see material benefits.

Scope3 uses several data points to help companies model the carbon footprint of their business. “There are four major components for broadcasts to a webpage,” he told Digiday. “There’s the device or the browser, for example, when the Javascript processor and the rendering page, then there’s the power of the data transmission when things go over 5G or WiFi, the cost production of the content, then there is the targeting and the analysis.”

It’s on the latter aspect where O’Kelley, an executive who helped bring advertising technology into the mainstream of the advertising industry, aims to help the media industry realize the benefits of thinking more responsibly by aggregating data from multiple sources to assess the carbon footprint of an ad impression.

“We’ve built one of the most accurate pictures of the advertising supply chain ever created by creating a proprietary model of how a DSP or SSP works…we can run a complete simulation of the internet” , he explained.

For example, Scope3 recently conducted an analysis of The Trade Desk’s recent decision to stop bidding on ad inventory sold through Google’s Open Bidding platform, finding that the demand-side platform saved 5,387 tonnes of Co2 In the process.

O’Kelley told Digiday that such thinking is increasingly on the minds of consumer-facing brands, their media agencies, and even potential investors in potentially niche areas such as ad tech. For example, companies that take a responsible approach to their carbon footprint are less likely to experience employee dissatisfaction, or even a consumer boycott, in the future, he points out.

“I would say in the UK, France and Australia it’s number one [CSR] subject of [media] agencies and brands,” he added. “I think in the United States it’s probably number two or three, but definitely on the rise.”

Speaking separately to Digiday, Kevin Flood, a partner at investment firm First Party Capital, explained his theory on how a low-carbon mindset could also mean savings when staking. It’s about running advertising campaigns.

Currently, the high number of transactions processed across multiple trading platforms means that the carbon footprint involved in monetizing a single web page – not to mention the processing fees involved – can grow rapidly.

However, Flood claimed that a “batch” approach to media buying (as opposed to constantly listening to bidding requests in real time) could reduce the carbon footprint required for each ad loaded on a page. . For example, if a buy-side actor is looking to buy ad impressions on search or social media, they can push an API-based order into the walled garden of their choice on an intermittent basis.

“If sellers stop sharing IDs in the auction stream, audience execution will increasingly be in the publisher’s ad server,” he explained. “There is therefore no need to buy in real time impression by impression. Then you pull results every one or 10 minutes, or every hour, update your pricing, your targeting algorithm so it’s not done in real time… [then] there’s no need for all those server costs and high bandwidth or the environmental impact of that.

Meanwhile, Scope3 is also partnering with Blockthrough, a company that helps publishers recoup revenue that could potentially be lost to ad blocking software, to help buyers access low-cost ad inventory. carbon from a single trading platform by the end of June.

Marty Krátký-Katz, CEO of Blockthrough, told Digiday that the impending launch demonstrates that publishers don’t have to compromise between “doing the right thing” and revenue and that the platform is well on its way. ‘host inventory from up to 20 publishers by the end of the second quarter.

“We will be packaging low-carbon advertising products in PMPs [private marketplaces]”, explained Krátký-Katz. “Interestingly, it turns out that some of the advertising experiences that consumers find most annoying are also bad for the environment.”


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