7 Vital Lessons From the Agency Panel at the Green Media Summit

9
at
9
minutes
Technical Level
May 9, 2023
9
minutes
Technical Level
May 9, 2023
Frank Maguire
VP, Insights & Strategy
Although it’s going to take every player in the media and advertising industry to reduce their carbon emissions to reach net zero, agencies have the ability to enact change and quickly progress the industry forward.

Not only that, agencies have a responsibility to their clients and partners to help and guide them to a sustainable future. In this post, we cover 7 of the biggest learnings from the agency panel hosted at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Agency Panel: How Agencies Will Hold the Digital Industry Accountable for Reaching Net-Zero Emissions

At the Green Media Summit, 4 industry leaders representing agencies took the stage to share their insights and ideas about how the media and advertising industry can, and will, reach net zero emissions. Hosted by Aleda Stam, Senior Reporter at Ad Age, and featuring a series of questions to agency panelists Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon, Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph and Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media. Here’s what some of the biggest takeaways were.

Watch the 2-minute recap of the session: 

7 Ways that Agencies Are Leading Sustainability Initiatives in Media and Advertising

1. Clients Are Looking to Agencies for Education and Information

Like their marketing efforts, clients are looking to agencies for sustainability advice and education. Keeping in mind that sustainability in media and advertising is relatively new within the industry, there is a bit of a learning curve. Digital media and advertising is complex and organizations have their unique business goals and agencies can help contextualize sustainability within their clients' supply chains.

This was echoed by Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, saying “When you look at our clients and the complexity of their supply chains, they're dealing with a very different set of variables often that requires them to make significant investments that this, in fact, can be a savings for them. So that's [why] where we're starting to hear clients come to us.”

Related: Deep Dive: A Guide to Environmental Sustainability in Digital Advertising — Sharethrough

In fact, this was further reinforced by Vivian Chang, Head of DTC Practice at Clorox during the brand panel, who said “We also expect our agency to help us understand how it works for the media side.”

Furthermore, clients and agencies are looking at sustainability through a pre-competitive lens as a way to move the initiative forward. Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph shared “We have clients in the same vertical that are getting together with us to talk about this to try to solve it together, which has been really great, but it's figuring out how to get the data.”

So what’s the best way to get the data needed to reduce carbon emissions?

2. Common Data Standards for Sustainability Will Speed Up Industry Progress

The first step is to create a common data standard for measuring carbon emissions within media and advertising. A shared vernacular enables agencies to clearly and effectively communicate sustainability progress and performance to their clients. Every agency panelist confirmed the need for an industry standard. Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media shared his thoughts on building common standards: “You're using fundamentally the same type of data to be consistent across clients, across agencies, across holding companies. And then it's how you ingest that, how you work with clients on sharing, that is the differentiation of one client and agency to another.”

Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media speaking during the agency panel at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Right now, carbon emissions are measured relative to campaign impressions. While this paints a good picture of how much waste is produced, it’s not the most accurate. So, who creates and sets these standards? Organizations like the IAB Tech Lab or Scope3 can help build these standards, but they need input from agencies, brands, and other ad tech players. Similar to how the buy-side pushed for ads.txt and sellers.json files to become the norm, the same can be done for carbon emissions measurement. 

Krystal Olivieri had this to add “But the steps to develop ads, they do have sort of common components that you can standardize. We can make meaningful impact quickly if we get to that place where we are all aligned on understanding what the factors are that are contributing.”

And agencies can’t do this alone. 

3. Agencies Need Help From Supply Partners to Lower Carbon Emissions

Supply partners need to help agencies measure and lower carbon emissions for themselves and the rest of the supply chain. Typically, supply chain emissions, or Scope 3 emissions, make up the largest portion of an organization’s carbon footprint. And if supply partners don’t lower their emissions, brands and agencies can only get so far in their total reduction. That’s why it’s imperative that supply partners share data and collaborate with agencies to build common standards and help develop new tools and methods of lowering carbon emissions.

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

Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon stressed the importance of working with supply partners to come up with solutions “it is a completely different approach because it's really having that comprehensive view of the whole supply chain to work together and, optimize it… It's taking the energy of everyone to optimize individually and come up with something, which is big.”

One of the simple ways for agencies to reduce emissions is through Supply Path Optimizations (SPO.) This reduces the number of data transfers that occur for each impression and ad delivery. “We've all talked about supply path optimization because it's good for more dollars to the publishers and more working media for the advertisers. And it's also good for the environment because it's less hops and less calls to different servers” said Krystal Olivieri. 

While SPO is a great start, another way agencies can take this further is through Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.) CPO is very similar to SPO in process. However, with CPO, agencies look at the number of carbon emissions of each path and remove high-emission partners. 

Rarely are there initiatives like sustainability that are an all-around win-win for performance and ROI. But can agencies prove it?

4. Agencies Need to Prove That Sustainability Leads to Tangible Business Outcomes

As Martin Bryan said, “When we can actually prove that by being more sustainable, you're actually yielding a higher ROI for your marketers, we're in a capitalist society, this is where market dynamics will motivate us to do the right thing that's gonna be more profitable.”

What would accelerate the transition to sustainable practices is proving that reducing and removing carbon emissions leads to positive business outcomes. According to our Sharethrough research on consumers’ understanding of internet carbon emissions, we discovered that 80% of consumers prefer brands that are taking action to reduce their emissions. Additionally, a McKinsey and NeilsenIQ study recently found that consumer packaged goods that had sustainable packaging grew sales by 28% compared to just 20% for non-sustainable packaging. But how does this translate to digital media and advertising?

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

In just a few short months, over 4000 advertisers ran their campaigns through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, and found the results exceeded expectations. In fact, BMW UK recently shared a case study on how running their videos on Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs helped improve performance. Why do GreenPMPs™ bring in such large performance gains? The theory of SPO checks out in practice too. Campaigns delivered through GreenPMPs™ take the most direct route to reach the most relevant impression. Now that agencies can prove their reduction efforts, how do they communicate that with their clients and consumers without greenwashing?

5. Agencies Can Avoid Greenwashing Through Radical Transparency

The best way for agencies and any other company, to avoid accusations of greenwashing is to be as transparent as possible about their efforts and progress. Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to communicating sustainability. Consumers are more forgiving when a company is transparent, even if the company didn’t reach their targets. Consumers appreciate the honesty. And this sentiment was affirmed when every agency panelist agreed that companies should publicly disclose their carbon emissions. 

Additionally, Krystal Olivieri raised a good point about transparency “because it's also one thing to just say like this is my carbon emissions, but there needs to be transparency in how you're getting to that number or how you're getting to that output.” 

Because transparency isn’t just about communicating your efforts, it’s also a way to hold organizations accountable for their promises. And agencies have a major role to play in helping digital media and advertising reach net zero emissions.

Related: Separating Agency Progress from Posturing Around Carbon Reduction and Sustainability — Sharethrough

6. Agencies Are Publicly Committing to Net-Zero Emissions for Accountability

As much as agencies will hold the rest of the industry accountable for reaching net zero emissions, agencies are publicly committing to hold themselves accountable. Trade bodies and organizations are helping agencies commit, set and act on their own sustainability targets. The Science Based Targets initiative exists for any organization in any industry to publicly commit to net-zero targets, which, agencies like Dentsu, WPP and Publicis made their promise to. 

Additionally, many other agencies and ad tech companies also joined AdNetZero, a sustainability initiative specific to media and advertising. Groups like AdNetZero foster collaboration between competing companies and provide guidance and resources to help reduce and remove carbon emissions. 

On the topic of commitment from agencies, Yale Cohen said that events like the Green Media Summit  “are the perfect type of events to galvanize that interest across an industry to actually take action, looking a little bit more at like the micro ways that you can take action.”

7. Agencies Are Appointing and Identifying Decision-Makers

Although most people want to do something about sustainability, only a few have the power or authority to do so. Even within agencies, identifying who the key stakeholders are can help progress sustainability initiatives. 

It’s also important to bring perspectives from people working in different teams or organizations to speed up the process and come up with new ideas. Yale Cohen said “​​I think that's part of the pathway to success is who is identifying the right stakeholders and not just the ones who are eager to work on it but passionate about [saying] ‘I am a decision maker, I can help enact this, I can help fund this’ because funding it is actually funding efficiencies and and better business practices.”

Agencies Are the Educators, Advocates and Champions of Sustainability

Agencies hold great power in moving the industry forward to sustainability. They have the influence to convince brands to invest more in green media products and initiatives. Agencies also have the purchasing power to spend with partners that also have reduced or low emissions. If high-emissions publishers and partners want to avoid potential revenue loss, they too would have to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

And because agencies have touch points throughout the programmatic supply chain and to the consumer, they can promote sustainable actions through ad campaigns. With the help of agencies, brands, supply partners and publishers, the digital media and advertising industry can surely reach net-zero emissions before any other industry.

Stay up to date with more Green Media Summit content by signing up for our newsletter.

Although it’s going to take every player in the media and advertising industry to reduce their carbon emissions to reach net zero, agencies have the ability to enact change and quickly progress the industry forward.

Not only that, agencies have a responsibility to their clients and partners to help and guide them to a sustainable future. In this post, we cover 7 of the biggest learnings from the agency panel hosted at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Agency Panel: How Agencies Will Hold the Digital Industry Accountable for Reaching Net-Zero Emissions

At the Green Media Summit, 4 industry leaders representing agencies took the stage to share their insights and ideas about how the media and advertising industry can, and will, reach net zero emissions. Hosted by Aleda Stam, Senior Reporter at Ad Age, and featuring a series of questions to agency panelists Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon, Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph and Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media. Here’s what some of the biggest takeaways were.

Watch the 2-minute recap of the session: 

7 Ways that Agencies Are Leading Sustainability Initiatives in Media and Advertising

1. Clients Are Looking to Agencies for Education and Information

Like their marketing efforts, clients are looking to agencies for sustainability advice and education. Keeping in mind that sustainability in media and advertising is relatively new within the industry, there is a bit of a learning curve. Digital media and advertising is complex and organizations have their unique business goals and agencies can help contextualize sustainability within their clients' supply chains.

This was echoed by Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, saying “When you look at our clients and the complexity of their supply chains, they're dealing with a very different set of variables often that requires them to make significant investments that this, in fact, can be a savings for them. So that's [why] where we're starting to hear clients come to us.”

Related: Deep Dive: A Guide to Environmental Sustainability in Digital Advertising — Sharethrough

In fact, this was further reinforced by Vivian Chang, Head of DTC Practice at Clorox during the brand panel, who said “We also expect our agency to help us understand how it works for the media side.”

Furthermore, clients and agencies are looking at sustainability through a pre-competitive lens as a way to move the initiative forward. Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph shared “We have clients in the same vertical that are getting together with us to talk about this to try to solve it together, which has been really great, but it's figuring out how to get the data.”

So what’s the best way to get the data needed to reduce carbon emissions?

2. Common Data Standards for Sustainability Will Speed Up Industry Progress

The first step is to create a common data standard for measuring carbon emissions within media and advertising. A shared vernacular enables agencies to clearly and effectively communicate sustainability progress and performance to their clients. Every agency panelist confirmed the need for an industry standard. Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media shared his thoughts on building common standards: “You're using fundamentally the same type of data to be consistent across clients, across agencies, across holding companies. And then it's how you ingest that, how you work with clients on sharing, that is the differentiation of one client and agency to another.”

Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media speaking during the agency panel at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Right now, carbon emissions are measured relative to campaign impressions. While this paints a good picture of how much waste is produced, it’s not the most accurate. So, who creates and sets these standards? Organizations like the IAB Tech Lab or Scope3 can help build these standards, but they need input from agencies, brands, and other ad tech players. Similar to how the buy-side pushed for ads.txt and sellers.json files to become the norm, the same can be done for carbon emissions measurement. 

Krystal Olivieri had this to add “But the steps to develop ads, they do have sort of common components that you can standardize. We can make meaningful impact quickly if we get to that place where we are all aligned on understanding what the factors are that are contributing.”

And agencies can’t do this alone. 

3. Agencies Need Help From Supply Partners to Lower Carbon Emissions

Supply partners need to help agencies measure and lower carbon emissions for themselves and the rest of the supply chain. Typically, supply chain emissions, or Scope 3 emissions, make up the largest portion of an organization’s carbon footprint. And if supply partners don’t lower their emissions, brands and agencies can only get so far in their total reduction. That’s why it’s imperative that supply partners share data and collaborate with agencies to build common standards and help develop new tools and methods of lowering carbon emissions.

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

Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon stressed the importance of working with supply partners to come up with solutions “it is a completely different approach because it's really having that comprehensive view of the whole supply chain to work together and, optimize it… It's taking the energy of everyone to optimize individually and come up with something, which is big.”

One of the simple ways for agencies to reduce emissions is through Supply Path Optimizations (SPO.) This reduces the number of data transfers that occur for each impression and ad delivery. “We've all talked about supply path optimization because it's good for more dollars to the publishers and more working media for the advertisers. And it's also good for the environment because it's less hops and less calls to different servers” said Krystal Olivieri. 

While SPO is a great start, another way agencies can take this further is through Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.) CPO is very similar to SPO in process. However, with CPO, agencies look at the number of carbon emissions of each path and remove high-emission partners. 

Rarely are there initiatives like sustainability that are an all-around win-win for performance and ROI. But can agencies prove it?

4. Agencies Need to Prove That Sustainability Leads to Tangible Business Outcomes

As Martin Bryan said, “When we can actually prove that by being more sustainable, you're actually yielding a higher ROI for your marketers, we're in a capitalist society, this is where market dynamics will motivate us to do the right thing that's gonna be more profitable.”

What would accelerate the transition to sustainable practices is proving that reducing and removing carbon emissions leads to positive business outcomes. According to our Sharethrough research on consumers’ understanding of internet carbon emissions, we discovered that 80% of consumers prefer brands that are taking action to reduce their emissions. Additionally, a McKinsey and NeilsenIQ study recently found that consumer packaged goods that had sustainable packaging grew sales by 28% compared to just 20% for non-sustainable packaging. But how does this translate to digital media and advertising?

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

In just a few short months, over 4000 advertisers ran their campaigns through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, and found the results exceeded expectations. In fact, BMW UK recently shared a case study on how running their videos on Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs helped improve performance. Why do GreenPMPs™ bring in such large performance gains? The theory of SPO checks out in practice too. Campaigns delivered through GreenPMPs™ take the most direct route to reach the most relevant impression. Now that agencies can prove their reduction efforts, how do they communicate that with their clients and consumers without greenwashing?

5. Agencies Can Avoid Greenwashing Through Radical Transparency

The best way for agencies and any other company, to avoid accusations of greenwashing is to be as transparent as possible about their efforts and progress. Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to communicating sustainability. Consumers are more forgiving when a company is transparent, even if the company didn’t reach their targets. Consumers appreciate the honesty. And this sentiment was affirmed when every agency panelist agreed that companies should publicly disclose their carbon emissions. 

Additionally, Krystal Olivieri raised a good point about transparency “because it's also one thing to just say like this is my carbon emissions, but there needs to be transparency in how you're getting to that number or how you're getting to that output.” 

Because transparency isn’t just about communicating your efforts, it’s also a way to hold organizations accountable for their promises. And agencies have a major role to play in helping digital media and advertising reach net zero emissions.

Related: Separating Agency Progress from Posturing Around Carbon Reduction and Sustainability — Sharethrough

6. Agencies Are Publicly Committing to Net-Zero Emissions for Accountability

As much as agencies will hold the rest of the industry accountable for reaching net zero emissions, agencies are publicly committing to hold themselves accountable. Trade bodies and organizations are helping agencies commit, set and act on their own sustainability targets. The Science Based Targets initiative exists for any organization in any industry to publicly commit to net-zero targets, which, agencies like Dentsu, WPP and Publicis made their promise to. 

Additionally, many other agencies and ad tech companies also joined AdNetZero, a sustainability initiative specific to media and advertising. Groups like AdNetZero foster collaboration between competing companies and provide guidance and resources to help reduce and remove carbon emissions. 

On the topic of commitment from agencies, Yale Cohen said that events like the Green Media Summit  “are the perfect type of events to galvanize that interest across an industry to actually take action, looking a little bit more at like the micro ways that you can take action.”

7. Agencies Are Appointing and Identifying Decision-Makers

Although most people want to do something about sustainability, only a few have the power or authority to do so. Even within agencies, identifying who the key stakeholders are can help progress sustainability initiatives. 

It’s also important to bring perspectives from people working in different teams or organizations to speed up the process and come up with new ideas. Yale Cohen said “​​I think that's part of the pathway to success is who is identifying the right stakeholders and not just the ones who are eager to work on it but passionate about [saying] ‘I am a decision maker, I can help enact this, I can help fund this’ because funding it is actually funding efficiencies and and better business practices.”

Agencies Are the Educators, Advocates and Champions of Sustainability

Agencies hold great power in moving the industry forward to sustainability. They have the influence to convince brands to invest more in green media products and initiatives. Agencies also have the purchasing power to spend with partners that also have reduced or low emissions. If high-emissions publishers and partners want to avoid potential revenue loss, they too would have to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

And because agencies have touch points throughout the programmatic supply chain and to the consumer, they can promote sustainable actions through ad campaigns. With the help of agencies, brands, supply partners and publishers, the digital media and advertising industry can surely reach net-zero emissions before any other industry.

Stay up to date with more Green Media Summit content by signing up for our newsletter.

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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.

Although it’s going to take every player in the media and advertising industry to reduce their carbon emissions to reach net zero, agencies have the ability to enact change and quickly progress the industry forward.

Not only that, agencies have a responsibility to their clients and partners to help and guide them to a sustainable future. In this post, we cover 7 of the biggest learnings from the agency panel hosted at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Agency Panel: How Agencies Will Hold the Digital Industry Accountable for Reaching Net-Zero Emissions

At the Green Media Summit, 4 industry leaders representing agencies took the stage to share their insights and ideas about how the media and advertising industry can, and will, reach net zero emissions. Hosted by Aleda Stam, Senior Reporter at Ad Age, and featuring a series of questions to agency panelists Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon, Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph and Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media. Here’s what some of the biggest takeaways were.

Watch the 2-minute recap of the session: 

7 Ways that Agencies Are Leading Sustainability Initiatives in Media and Advertising

1. Clients Are Looking to Agencies for Education and Information

Like their marketing efforts, clients are looking to agencies for sustainability advice and education. Keeping in mind that sustainability in media and advertising is relatively new within the industry, there is a bit of a learning curve. Digital media and advertising is complex and organizations have their unique business goals and agencies can help contextualize sustainability within their clients' supply chains.

This was echoed by Martin Bryan, Global Chief Sustainability Officer at UM, Mediabrands, saying “When you look at our clients and the complexity of their supply chains, they're dealing with a very different set of variables often that requires them to make significant investments that this, in fact, can be a savings for them. So that's [why] where we're starting to hear clients come to us.”

Related: Deep Dive: A Guide to Environmental Sustainability in Digital Advertising — Sharethrough

In fact, this was further reinforced by Vivian Chang, Head of DTC Practice at Clorox during the brand panel, who said “We also expect our agency to help us understand how it works for the media side.”

Furthermore, clients and agencies are looking at sustainability through a pre-competitive lens as a way to move the initiative forward. Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph shared “We have clients in the same vertical that are getting together with us to talk about this to try to solve it together, which has been really great, but it's figuring out how to get the data.”

So what’s the best way to get the data needed to reduce carbon emissions?

2. Common Data Standards for Sustainability Will Speed Up Industry Progress

The first step is to create a common data standard for measuring carbon emissions within media and advertising. A shared vernacular enables agencies to clearly and effectively communicate sustainability progress and performance to their clients. Every agency panelist confirmed the need for an industry standard. Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media shared his thoughts on building common standards: “You're using fundamentally the same type of data to be consistent across clients, across agencies, across holding companies. And then it's how you ingest that, how you work with clients on sharing, that is the differentiation of one client and agency to another.”

Yale Cohen, EVP Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media speaking during the agency panel at Sharethrough’s Green Media Summit.

Right now, carbon emissions are measured relative to campaign impressions. While this paints a good picture of how much waste is produced, it’s not the most accurate. So, who creates and sets these standards? Organizations like the IAB Tech Lab or Scope3 can help build these standards, but they need input from agencies, brands, and other ad tech players. Similar to how the buy-side pushed for ads.txt and sellers.json files to become the norm, the same can be done for carbon emissions measurement. 

Krystal Olivieri had this to add “But the steps to develop ads, they do have sort of common components that you can standardize. We can make meaningful impact quickly if we get to that place where we are all aligned on understanding what the factors are that are contributing.”

And agencies can’t do this alone. 

3. Agencies Need Help From Supply Partners to Lower Carbon Emissions

Supply partners need to help agencies measure and lower carbon emissions for themselves and the rest of the supply chain. Typically, supply chain emissions, or Scope 3 emissions, make up the largest portion of an organization’s carbon footprint. And if supply partners don’t lower their emissions, brands and agencies can only get so far in their total reduction. That’s why it’s imperative that supply partners share data and collaborate with agencies to build common standards and help develop new tools and methods of lowering carbon emissions.

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

Jean-Marc Papin, SVP Media Technology & Data at Horizon stressed the importance of working with supply partners to come up with solutions “it is a completely different approach because it's really having that comprehensive view of the whole supply chain to work together and, optimize it… It's taking the energy of everyone to optimize individually and come up with something, which is big.”

One of the simple ways for agencies to reduce emissions is through Supply Path Optimizations (SPO.) This reduces the number of data transfers that occur for each impression and ad delivery. “We've all talked about supply path optimization because it's good for more dollars to the publishers and more working media for the advertisers. And it's also good for the environment because it's less hops and less calls to different servers” said Krystal Olivieri. 

While SPO is a great start, another way agencies can take this further is through Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.) CPO is very similar to SPO in process. However, with CPO, agencies look at the number of carbon emissions of each path and remove high-emission partners. 

Rarely are there initiatives like sustainability that are an all-around win-win for performance and ROI. But can agencies prove it?

4. Agencies Need to Prove That Sustainability Leads to Tangible Business Outcomes

As Martin Bryan said, “When we can actually prove that by being more sustainable, you're actually yielding a higher ROI for your marketers, we're in a capitalist society, this is where market dynamics will motivate us to do the right thing that's gonna be more profitable.”

What would accelerate the transition to sustainable practices is proving that reducing and removing carbon emissions leads to positive business outcomes. According to our Sharethrough research on consumers’ understanding of internet carbon emissions, we discovered that 80% of consumers prefer brands that are taking action to reduce their emissions. Additionally, a McKinsey and NeilsenIQ study recently found that consumer packaged goods that had sustainable packaging grew sales by 28% compared to just 20% for non-sustainable packaging. But how does this translate to digital media and advertising?

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

In just a few short months, over 4000 advertisers ran their campaigns through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, and found the results exceeded expectations. In fact, BMW UK recently shared a case study on how running their videos on Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs helped improve performance. Why do GreenPMPs™ bring in such large performance gains? The theory of SPO checks out in practice too. Campaigns delivered through GreenPMPs™ take the most direct route to reach the most relevant impression. Now that agencies can prove their reduction efforts, how do they communicate that with their clients and consumers without greenwashing?

5. Agencies Can Avoid Greenwashing Through Radical Transparency

The best way for agencies and any other company, to avoid accusations of greenwashing is to be as transparent as possible about their efforts and progress. Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to communicating sustainability. Consumers are more forgiving when a company is transparent, even if the company didn’t reach their targets. Consumers appreciate the honesty. And this sentiment was affirmed when every agency panelist agreed that companies should publicly disclose their carbon emissions. 

Additionally, Krystal Olivieri raised a good point about transparency “because it's also one thing to just say like this is my carbon emissions, but there needs to be transparency in how you're getting to that number or how you're getting to that output.” 

Because transparency isn’t just about communicating your efforts, it’s also a way to hold organizations accountable for their promises. And agencies have a major role to play in helping digital media and advertising reach net zero emissions.

Related: Separating Agency Progress from Posturing Around Carbon Reduction and Sustainability — Sharethrough

6. Agencies Are Publicly Committing to Net-Zero Emissions for Accountability

As much as agencies will hold the rest of the industry accountable for reaching net zero emissions, agencies are publicly committing to hold themselves accountable. Trade bodies and organizations are helping agencies commit, set and act on their own sustainability targets. The Science Based Targets initiative exists for any organization in any industry to publicly commit to net-zero targets, which, agencies like Dentsu, WPP and Publicis made their promise to. 

Additionally, many other agencies and ad tech companies also joined AdNetZero, a sustainability initiative specific to media and advertising. Groups like AdNetZero foster collaboration between competing companies and provide guidance and resources to help reduce and remove carbon emissions. 

On the topic of commitment from agencies, Yale Cohen said that events like the Green Media Summit  “are the perfect type of events to galvanize that interest across an industry to actually take action, looking a little bit more at like the micro ways that you can take action.”

7. Agencies Are Appointing and Identifying Decision-Makers

Although most people want to do something about sustainability, only a few have the power or authority to do so. Even within agencies, identifying who the key stakeholders are can help progress sustainability initiatives. 

It’s also important to bring perspectives from people working in different teams or organizations to speed up the process and come up with new ideas. Yale Cohen said “​​I think that's part of the pathway to success is who is identifying the right stakeholders and not just the ones who are eager to work on it but passionate about [saying] ‘I am a decision maker, I can help enact this, I can help fund this’ because funding it is actually funding efficiencies and and better business practices.”

Agencies Are the Educators, Advocates and Champions of Sustainability

Agencies hold great power in moving the industry forward to sustainability. They have the influence to convince brands to invest more in green media products and initiatives. Agencies also have the purchasing power to spend with partners that also have reduced or low emissions. If high-emissions publishers and partners want to avoid potential revenue loss, they too would have to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

And because agencies have touch points throughout the programmatic supply chain and to the consumer, they can promote sustainable actions through ad campaigns. With the help of agencies, brands, supply partners and publishers, the digital media and advertising industry can surely reach net-zero emissions before any other industry.

Stay up to date with more Green Media Summit content by signing up for our newsletter.

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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This week in Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech we’re talking about the delay in the depreciation of third-party cookies & news on IPOs.
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June 25, 2021
Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech — Power Plays & Privacy
This week in Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech we’re taking a look at the role of competition and key player’s growing dominance.
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June 18 2021
Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech — Lawsuits & Set Backs In Addressability
This week in Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech we’re talking about the rise in privacy and addressability, from lawsuits to setbacks.
Frank Maguire
VP, Insights & Strategy

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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