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5 Trends to Expect in Sustainability in 2023

Sustainability
7
minutes
Technical Level
November 18, 2023
7
minutes
November 29, 2022
Technical Level
Frank Maguire
VP, Insight, Strategy & Sustainability
In 2022, many brands, agencies, publishers and ad tech companies learned about the carbon emissions caused by digital advertising. Thankfully, we’re seeing a growing number of companies committing to industry-wide sustainability initiatives. The unanimous rallying by the ad tech industry to reduce carbon emissions makes reaching net-zero by 2030 a real possibility. But how will we achieve that? In this post, we cover the 5 things to expect from ad tech for sustainability in 2023 to help the industry get on track for net-zero emissions by 2030.

Leaving the Wasteful Past of Ad Tech

2022 was a landmark year for environmental sustainability in digital advertising. It was the year the ad tech industry learned that the internet generates more carbon waste than the civil aviation industry. And a large portion of those carbon emissions comes from running digital ad campaigns which led to more and more organizations committing to reducing the carbon footprint of ad tech. If 2022 was the year of education and planning, then 2023 will be the year of action and accountability. 

Read More: [Infographic] Understanding How The Programmatic Supply Chain Generates CO2 Emissions — Sharethrough

5 Changes to Expect in Ad Tech Sustainability in 2023

Let’s take a look at the 5 things the ad tech industry is expected to do in 2023 to speed up towards our goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

1. Increased commitment from brands, agencies and ad tech companies

Coming up in 2023, we’ll start to see more and more brands, agencies and ad tech companies committing to sustainability initiatives or reducing their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. A few agencies, like WPP, Havas and IPG have already started working towards that goal. But that number will increase in the next year, as the committed may only want to work with sustainable partners. And if those partners don’t want to lose potential ad spend, then they’ll be more inclined to start with their own journey towards sustainability.

Another way to potentially speed up the adoption of sustainability initiatives is by improving the transparency of carbon emissions generated by domain. This would require advertisers to pay more to advertise on sites with higher emissions and incentivize publishers to further reduce their emissions. Like how skyrocketing gasoline prices made electricity a more cost-effective option, consumers are more likely to purchase electric vehicles, which in turn, could force car manufacturers, like Ford, to invest in and build more electric cars. 

And if we apply the same concept to digital advertising, brands and advertisers have the power and spend to convince publishers and other partners in their programmatic supply chain to make their sites and platforms sustainable.

2. New and improved emissions reporting

Next in 2023, standardized emissions reporting will help drive mass industry adoption and action. In fact, progress is already happening. Organizations like Scope3 are helping players in the ad tech industry measure their carbon emissions, while coalitions like AdNetZero are developing common industry standards for emissions reporting. Additionally, hold co’s like Dentsu, GroupM and IPG are encouraging all their partners to begin measuring and reporting their emissions and helping develop common reporting and measurement standards. 

Moreover, emissions reporting will become a standard part of advertisers’ workflows. By reporting carbon emissions, brands and advertisers can determine which hotspots are generating more waste, guiding further sustainability improvements.  

Reporting also holds organizations accountable for actually reducing carbon emissions, rather than relying on their commitments and good virtues. By having to report their emissions and progress to consumers or partners, it ensures that organizations make meaningful steps to reduce their carbon footprint. 

3. Brands more cognizant of greenwashing

If 2022 was the year brands learned from the mistakes of a few brands with poor sustainability communication choices, then 2023 will be the year that brands improve their communication and decrease public calls of greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company misleads or falsely claims its business is environmentally sustainable. When revealed, greenwashing can have devastating consequences for companies. For example, fast fashion brands are under fire from consumers and regulatory bodies for misleading consumers about the extent of recycled components and the sustainability of some of their products. 

However, there’s a fine line between greenwashing and sustainability, and that’s transparency. Consumers prefer brands that are actively and meaningfully working toward sustainability, but that doesn’t mean that brands need to have a full plan laid out for how they’re going to reduce their emissions. As long as they’re genuinely trying, and report both wins and losses, they can avoid accusations of greenwashing. As an added benefit, consumers are also willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products and organizations that take steps toward sustainability are often more profitable than their competitors.

Read More: [Infographic] Research Reveals Consumer Understanding of Advertising’s Impact on Carbon Emissions — Sharethrough

4. Reducing carbon emissions will take priority over offsetting

In 2023, offsetting carbon emissions will take a backseat to removing them, but why? And what’s the major difference between offsetting and removing? Offsetting carbon emissions is simply removing the same amount of carbon waste that was generated, whereas removing carbon emissions is reducing the amount of carbon a company emits. Both carbon reduction and offsetting are needed to help us reach a goal of net-zero emissions, however, carbon reduction has a more immediate impact.

Imagine a house with all the lights on and the water running all the time. Carbon offsetting is like planting a tree in the backyard every day while leaving the lights and water. Planting a tree may offset the carbon used by the house that day, but a tree takes time to grow while energy is used up now. Removing carbon emissions would be like turning off the lights and water when not using them and planting a tree in the backyard. 

Offsetting is a great place to start and can still make a huge impact towards reducing carbon footprint, especially to account for the hard-to-reduce scope 3 supply chain emissions. However, removing sources of carbon emissions while reducing existing carbon waste is going to have the greatest positive impact on the environment. Next year, we will see more organizations focusing on removing their carbon emissions, while also offsetting emissions that are harder to control such as scope 3 emissions. 

5. SPO will help reduce carbon emissions

Speaking of scope 3 emissions, brands, agencies and other ad tech companies will place a much closer emphasis on reducing emissions throughout their supply chains in 2023. Approximately 90% of a company’s emissions are caused by scope 3 emissions, which means that the reporting company has to convince its current supply chain partners to reduce their emissions or seek partners that are already sustainable. 

So how can brands and agencies make their supply chain have net-zero emissions? In ad tech, most emissions come from data transmissions and server operations, and by reducing the number of steps an ad has to take to reach the consumer, the fewer emissions. Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the practice of finding the most direct and efficient path to site. SPO reduces carbon emissions by removing the extra hops in the programmatic supply chain that generate unnecessary emissions. SPO and directness are some of the most effective and immediate steps that organizations can take toward removing and reducing carbon emissions and sustainability. 

Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the most effective method for reducing carbon emissions in ad tech.

Read More: Why The Ad Industry Should Focus On Scope 3 Emissions — Sharethrough

Entering the Green Age of Digital Advertising

The ad tech industry doesn’t always agree with itself, and sometimes needs extra convincing to adapt to new concepts. However, for reducing emissions, the entire industry agrees that we need to take action. While 2022 was spent on educating ourselves about digital advertising’s carbon emissions, 2023 will usher in a new era of green advertising as more companies commit to sustainability initiatives and report on their progress. Brands will be more mindful of greenwashing as reducing emissions takes precedence over offsetting and with a greater focus on the Scope 3 supply chain emissions. In the meantime, you can get started on your sustainability journey with Sharethrough GreenPMPs™, which is a turnkey way to measure and compensate for all carbon emitted from every ad impression delivered.

Contact us to learn more about sustainability in digital advertising and how GreenPMPs™ can help.

To view the free infographic, fill the form below.

In 2022, many brands, agencies, publishers and ad tech companies learned about the carbon emissions caused by digital advertising. Thankfully, we’re seeing a growing number of companies committing to industry-wide sustainability initiatives. The unanimous rallying by the ad tech industry to reduce carbon emissions makes reaching net-zero by 2030 a real possibility. But how will we achieve that? In this post, we cover the 5 things to expect from ad tech for sustainability in 2023 to help the industry get on track for net-zero emissions by 2030.

Leaving the Wasteful Past of Ad Tech

2022 was a landmark year for environmental sustainability in digital advertising. It was the year the ad tech industry learned that the internet generates more carbon waste than the civil aviation industry. And a large portion of those carbon emissions comes from running digital ad campaigns which led to more and more organizations committing to reducing the carbon footprint of ad tech. If 2022 was the year of education and planning, then 2023 will be the year of action and accountability. 

Read More: [Infographic] Understanding How The Programmatic Supply Chain Generates CO2 Emissions — Sharethrough

5 Changes to Expect in Ad Tech Sustainability in 2023

Let’s take a look at the 5 things the ad tech industry is expected to do in 2023 to speed up towards our goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

1. Increased commitment from brands, agencies and ad tech companies

Coming up in 2023, we’ll start to see more and more brands, agencies and ad tech companies committing to sustainability initiatives or reducing their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. A few agencies, like WPP, Havas and IPG have already started working towards that goal. But that number will increase in the next year, as the committed may only want to work with sustainable partners. And if those partners don’t want to lose potential ad spend, then they’ll be more inclined to start with their own journey towards sustainability.

Another way to potentially speed up the adoption of sustainability initiatives is by improving the transparency of carbon emissions generated by domain. This would require advertisers to pay more to advertise on sites with higher emissions and incentivize publishers to further reduce their emissions. Like how skyrocketing gasoline prices made electricity a more cost-effective option, consumers are more likely to purchase electric vehicles, which in turn, could force car manufacturers, like Ford, to invest in and build more electric cars. 

And if we apply the same concept to digital advertising, brands and advertisers have the power and spend to convince publishers and other partners in their programmatic supply chain to make their sites and platforms sustainable.

2. New and improved emissions reporting

Next in 2023, standardized emissions reporting will help drive mass industry adoption and action. In fact, progress is already happening. Organizations like Scope3 are helping players in the ad tech industry measure their carbon emissions, while coalitions like AdNetZero are developing common industry standards for emissions reporting. Additionally, hold co’s like Dentsu, GroupM and IPG are encouraging all their partners to begin measuring and reporting their emissions and helping develop common reporting and measurement standards. 

Moreover, emissions reporting will become a standard part of advertisers’ workflows. By reporting carbon emissions, brands and advertisers can determine which hotspots are generating more waste, guiding further sustainability improvements.  

Reporting also holds organizations accountable for actually reducing carbon emissions, rather than relying on their commitments and good virtues. By having to report their emissions and progress to consumers or partners, it ensures that organizations make meaningful steps to reduce their carbon footprint. 

3. Brands more cognizant of greenwashing

If 2022 was the year brands learned from the mistakes of a few brands with poor sustainability communication choices, then 2023 will be the year that brands improve their communication and decrease public calls of greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company misleads or falsely claims its business is environmentally sustainable. When revealed, greenwashing can have devastating consequences for companies. For example, fast fashion brands are under fire from consumers and regulatory bodies for misleading consumers about the extent of recycled components and the sustainability of some of their products. 

However, there’s a fine line between greenwashing and sustainability, and that’s transparency. Consumers prefer brands that are actively and meaningfully working toward sustainability, but that doesn’t mean that brands need to have a full plan laid out for how they’re going to reduce their emissions. As long as they’re genuinely trying, and report both wins and losses, they can avoid accusations of greenwashing. As an added benefit, consumers are also willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products and organizations that take steps toward sustainability are often more profitable than their competitors.

Read More: [Infographic] Research Reveals Consumer Understanding of Advertising’s Impact on Carbon Emissions — Sharethrough

4. Reducing carbon emissions will take priority over offsetting

In 2023, offsetting carbon emissions will take a backseat to removing them, but why? And what’s the major difference between offsetting and removing? Offsetting carbon emissions is simply removing the same amount of carbon waste that was generated, whereas removing carbon emissions is reducing the amount of carbon a company emits. Both carbon reduction and offsetting are needed to help us reach a goal of net-zero emissions, however, carbon reduction has a more immediate impact.

Imagine a house with all the lights on and the water running all the time. Carbon offsetting is like planting a tree in the backyard every day while leaving the lights and water. Planting a tree may offset the carbon used by the house that day, but a tree takes time to grow while energy is used up now. Removing carbon emissions would be like turning off the lights and water when not using them and planting a tree in the backyard. 

Offsetting is a great place to start and can still make a huge impact towards reducing carbon footprint, especially to account for the hard-to-reduce scope 3 supply chain emissions. However, removing sources of carbon emissions while reducing existing carbon waste is going to have the greatest positive impact on the environment. Next year, we will see more organizations focusing on removing their carbon emissions, while also offsetting emissions that are harder to control such as scope 3 emissions. 

5. SPO will help reduce carbon emissions

Speaking of scope 3 emissions, brands, agencies and other ad tech companies will place a much closer emphasis on reducing emissions throughout their supply chains in 2023. Approximately 90% of a company’s emissions are caused by scope 3 emissions, which means that the reporting company has to convince its current supply chain partners to reduce their emissions or seek partners that are already sustainable. 

So how can brands and agencies make their supply chain have net-zero emissions? In ad tech, most emissions come from data transmissions and server operations, and by reducing the number of steps an ad has to take to reach the consumer, the fewer emissions. Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the practice of finding the most direct and efficient path to site. SPO reduces carbon emissions by removing the extra hops in the programmatic supply chain that generate unnecessary emissions. SPO and directness are some of the most effective and immediate steps that organizations can take toward removing and reducing carbon emissions and sustainability. 

Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the most effective method for reducing carbon emissions in ad tech.

Read More: Why The Ad Industry Should Focus On Scope 3 Emissions — Sharethrough

Entering the Green Age of Digital Advertising

The ad tech industry doesn’t always agree with itself, and sometimes needs extra convincing to adapt to new concepts. However, for reducing emissions, the entire industry agrees that we need to take action. While 2022 was spent on educating ourselves about digital advertising’s carbon emissions, 2023 will usher in a new era of green advertising as more companies commit to sustainability initiatives and report on their progress. Brands will be more mindful of greenwashing as reducing emissions takes precedence over offsetting and with a greater focus on the Scope 3 supply chain emissions. In the meantime, you can get started on your sustainability journey with Sharethrough GreenPMPs™, which is a turnkey way to measure and compensate for all carbon emitted from every ad impression delivered.

Contact us to learn more about sustainability in digital advertising and how GreenPMPs™ can help.

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About Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech—

Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech is a short 3-minute podcast exploring the news in the digital advertising industry. Ad tech is a fast-growing industry with many updates happening daily. As it can be hard for most to keep up with the latest news, the Sharethrough team wanted to create an audio series compiling notable mentions each week.

In 2022, many brands, agencies, publishers and ad tech companies learned about the carbon emissions caused by digital advertising. Thankfully, we’re seeing a growing number of companies committing to industry-wide sustainability initiatives. The unanimous rallying by the ad tech industry to reduce carbon emissions makes reaching net-zero by 2030 a real possibility. But how will we achieve that? In this post, we cover the 5 things to expect from ad tech for sustainability in 2023 to help the industry get on track for net-zero emissions by 2030.

Leaving the Wasteful Past of Ad Tech

2022 was a landmark year for environmental sustainability in digital advertising. It was the year the ad tech industry learned that the internet generates more carbon waste than the civil aviation industry. And a large portion of those carbon emissions comes from running digital ad campaigns which led to more and more organizations committing to reducing the carbon footprint of ad tech. If 2022 was the year of education and planning, then 2023 will be the year of action and accountability. 

Read More: [Infographic] Understanding How The Programmatic Supply Chain Generates CO2 Emissions — Sharethrough

5 Changes to Expect in Ad Tech Sustainability in 2023

Let’s take a look at the 5 things the ad tech industry is expected to do in 2023 to speed up towards our goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

1. Increased commitment from brands, agencies and ad tech companies

Coming up in 2023, we’ll start to see more and more brands, agencies and ad tech companies committing to sustainability initiatives or reducing their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. A few agencies, like WPP, Havas and IPG have already started working towards that goal. But that number will increase in the next year, as the committed may only want to work with sustainable partners. And if those partners don’t want to lose potential ad spend, then they’ll be more inclined to start with their own journey towards sustainability.

Another way to potentially speed up the adoption of sustainability initiatives is by improving the transparency of carbon emissions generated by domain. This would require advertisers to pay more to advertise on sites with higher emissions and incentivize publishers to further reduce their emissions. Like how skyrocketing gasoline prices made electricity a more cost-effective option, consumers are more likely to purchase electric vehicles, which in turn, could force car manufacturers, like Ford, to invest in and build more electric cars. 

And if we apply the same concept to digital advertising, brands and advertisers have the power and spend to convince publishers and other partners in their programmatic supply chain to make their sites and platforms sustainable.

2. New and improved emissions reporting

Next in 2023, standardized emissions reporting will help drive mass industry adoption and action. In fact, progress is already happening. Organizations like Scope3 are helping players in the ad tech industry measure their carbon emissions, while coalitions like AdNetZero are developing common industry standards for emissions reporting. Additionally, hold co’s like Dentsu, GroupM and IPG are encouraging all their partners to begin measuring and reporting their emissions and helping develop common reporting and measurement standards. 

Moreover, emissions reporting will become a standard part of advertisers’ workflows. By reporting carbon emissions, brands and advertisers can determine which hotspots are generating more waste, guiding further sustainability improvements.  

Reporting also holds organizations accountable for actually reducing carbon emissions, rather than relying on their commitments and good virtues. By having to report their emissions and progress to consumers or partners, it ensures that organizations make meaningful steps to reduce their carbon footprint. 

3. Brands more cognizant of greenwashing

If 2022 was the year brands learned from the mistakes of a few brands with poor sustainability communication choices, then 2023 will be the year that brands improve their communication and decrease public calls of greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company misleads or falsely claims its business is environmentally sustainable. When revealed, greenwashing can have devastating consequences for companies. For example, fast fashion brands are under fire from consumers and regulatory bodies for misleading consumers about the extent of recycled components and the sustainability of some of their products. 

However, there’s a fine line between greenwashing and sustainability, and that’s transparency. Consumers prefer brands that are actively and meaningfully working toward sustainability, but that doesn’t mean that brands need to have a full plan laid out for how they’re going to reduce their emissions. As long as they’re genuinely trying, and report both wins and losses, they can avoid accusations of greenwashing. As an added benefit, consumers are also willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products and organizations that take steps toward sustainability are often more profitable than their competitors.

Read More: [Infographic] Research Reveals Consumer Understanding of Advertising’s Impact on Carbon Emissions — Sharethrough

4. Reducing carbon emissions will take priority over offsetting

In 2023, offsetting carbon emissions will take a backseat to removing them, but why? And what’s the major difference between offsetting and removing? Offsetting carbon emissions is simply removing the same amount of carbon waste that was generated, whereas removing carbon emissions is reducing the amount of carbon a company emits. Both carbon reduction and offsetting are needed to help us reach a goal of net-zero emissions, however, carbon reduction has a more immediate impact.

Imagine a house with all the lights on and the water running all the time. Carbon offsetting is like planting a tree in the backyard every day while leaving the lights and water. Planting a tree may offset the carbon used by the house that day, but a tree takes time to grow while energy is used up now. Removing carbon emissions would be like turning off the lights and water when not using them and planting a tree in the backyard. 

Offsetting is a great place to start and can still make a huge impact towards reducing carbon footprint, especially to account for the hard-to-reduce scope 3 supply chain emissions. However, removing sources of carbon emissions while reducing existing carbon waste is going to have the greatest positive impact on the environment. Next year, we will see more organizations focusing on removing their carbon emissions, while also offsetting emissions that are harder to control such as scope 3 emissions. 

5. SPO will help reduce carbon emissions

Speaking of scope 3 emissions, brands, agencies and other ad tech companies will place a much closer emphasis on reducing emissions throughout their supply chains in 2023. Approximately 90% of a company’s emissions are caused by scope 3 emissions, which means that the reporting company has to convince its current supply chain partners to reduce their emissions or seek partners that are already sustainable. 

So how can brands and agencies make their supply chain have net-zero emissions? In ad tech, most emissions come from data transmissions and server operations, and by reducing the number of steps an ad has to take to reach the consumer, the fewer emissions. Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the practice of finding the most direct and efficient path to site. SPO reduces carbon emissions by removing the extra hops in the programmatic supply chain that generate unnecessary emissions. SPO and directness are some of the most effective and immediate steps that organizations can take toward removing and reducing carbon emissions and sustainability. 

Supply Path Optimization (SPO) is the most effective method for reducing carbon emissions in ad tech.

Read More: Why The Ad Industry Should Focus On Scope 3 Emissions — Sharethrough

Entering the Green Age of Digital Advertising

The ad tech industry doesn’t always agree with itself, and sometimes needs extra convincing to adapt to new concepts. However, for reducing emissions, the entire industry agrees that we need to take action. While 2022 was spent on educating ourselves about digital advertising’s carbon emissions, 2023 will usher in a new era of green advertising as more companies commit to sustainability initiatives and report on their progress. Brands will be more mindful of greenwashing as reducing emissions takes precedence over offsetting and with a greater focus on the Scope 3 supply chain emissions. In the meantime, you can get started on your sustainability journey with Sharethrough GreenPMPs™, which is a turnkey way to measure and compensate for all carbon emitted from every ad impression delivered.

Contact us to learn more about sustainability in digital advertising and how GreenPMPs™ can help.

About Calibrate—

Founded in 2015, Calibrate is a yearly conference for new engineering managers hosted by seasoned engineering managers. The experience level of the speakers ranges from newcomers all the way through senior engineering leaders with over twenty years of experience in the field. Each speaker is greatly concerned about the craft of engineering management. Organized and hosted by Sharethrough, it was conducted yearly in September, from 2015-2019 in San Francisco, California.

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Frank Maguire
VP, Insight, Strategy & Sustainability

About the Author

Frank has spent over a decade at Sharethrough conducting research studies to better understand how humans respond to advertising and sharing strategies, insights and best practices that help brands and agencies adapt their unique advertising challenges to ever-evolving media consumption behaviors. He is a digital advertising industry veteran, beginning his career working for clients including Nestle, Pfizer and Wyndham on the agency side and then opening up and growing Sharethrough's East Coast headquarters in NYC.

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