Part of IAB Europe's Mapping of Greenhouse Gas Estimation Solutions

The advertising industry, like others, must respond to the urgency of climate change. It should promote responsible consumption, transparently communicate commitments, and integrate emissions reduction across various media platforms (Digital, TV, Radio, OOH, Print…).

The good news is that sustainability standards are being implemented.

In October, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and Ad Net Zero established several working groups to create a global framework for media sustainability. The complete set of guidelines is expected to be published at the Cannes Lions Festival.

As France has been at the forefront of this topic, here’s an overview of what has happened over the past year.

Ad Sustainability Frameworks

Last year saw the launch of several cross-industry initiatives, including the implementation of frameworks that provide general guidelines for carbon footprint management. 

French trade bodies and associations, such as Bureau de la Radio for Radio & Digital Audio, SNPTV for Linear TV and CTV, Le SRI and Alliance Digitale for Digital, published their framework for carbon evaluation focusing on the campaigns’ delivery.

These standards were then incorporated into the Union des Marques meta-framework (local Federation of Advertisers) published last month under the name “OneFrame.” It is likely that the GARM and the WFA may draw inspiration from this industry initiative.

Methodology Used to Evaluate Carbon Footprint

Each trade body agreed on specific rules and practices to enable carbon footprint analysis. For example, they excluded the production of creative assets from the analysis. They also decided to assess the evaluation based on the delivery of the campaign life-cycle.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology was developed with the assistance of carbon experts and industry professionals from the buy-side and sell-side of the business.

The analysis includes several scopes: the manufacturing and life-cycle of users’ devices, the manufacturing and life-cycle of network components and allocation, and the manufacturing and life-cycle of networks and servers required for delivering the ad.

For CTV, Catch-up TV, or Audio campaigns, the LCA methodology is based on the SRI/Alliance Digitale guideline. The methodology considers the campaign’s booking method (programmatically or IO based) and the number of paths required for delivery in programmatic.

What followed?

In addition to the trade bodies, the industry is becoming increasingly mature in this area, with agencies such as GroupM, Publicis Media, and Dentsu developing their own evaluation tools and providing numerous trainings for their teams to better consider environmental responsibility.

Alliance Digitale also published a guide promoting a list of sustainable practices for programmatic buyers and traders. The guide offers recommendations grouped around several key principles:

  • Eliminating wasted ad impressions and unnecessary data

  • Activating low-carbon targeting (e.g., Wi-Fi vs 4G for mobile campaigns, contextual vs data…)

  • Delivering lighter creatives and formats (by reducing the weight of the creative with relevant tools)

  • Measuring and evaluating the carbon footprint of campaigns with appropriate solutions like the one proposed by DK

All this shows that sustainable development is no longer an option.

What's next?

To manage campaigns with sustainability in mind, the market is discussing a new KPI that can include carbon data. Although nothing has been finalized, many imagine a common cross-media KPI.

Discussions revolve around the carbon weight per euro of media spent and the carbon weight per second. The former encourages optimizing the formats used with a constant marketing budget, while the latter enables comparing the footprint per second of exposure of the ad message.

This KPI can also be easily used alongside classic KPIs such as viewability, view-on-time, CTR, attention, etc. Measurement solutions like DK offer to directly integrate this KPI into clients’ dashboards.

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