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The 3-Step Cycle to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Digital Campaigns

Sustainability
5
minutes
Technical Level
June 14, 2023
5
minutes
June 14, 2023
Technical Level
Frank Maguire
VP of Insights, Strategy & Sustainability
Consumers often hear “reuse, reduce, recycle” as advice to living more sustainably. But what would that advice look like for brands and advertisers that want more sustainable digital advertising campaigns?

In this post, we cover the 3-step process required to minimize the programmatic supply chain’s impact on the environment.

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions From Digital Campaigns in 3 Steps

Step 1: Measure

How do brands and advertisers know if their digital ad campaigns are successful? They have various metrics at hand to measure and evaluate performance. For sustainability initiatives, measurement provides a benchmark or starting point for when advertisers begin to reduce emissions from digital ad campaigns. Measurement also reveals progress made by advertisers, but more on that later. Knowing that many factors contribute to carbon emissions, how can marketers tell what parts of their campaigns generate the most carbon waste?

It’s generally understood that 1 ad impression generates approximately 1 gram of carbon waste and that videos generate more carbon than images. But campaigns spread across millions of impressions and multiple formats. When digital campaigns are run through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, advertisers can measure their actual emissions in real-time using Scope3’s programmatic supply chain data.   

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

Imagine estimating how many clicks or views your campaign would receive and how that would change depending on which factors you adjust. That’s why at Sharethrough, we built our Carbon Emissions Estimator, enabling advertisers to estimate their campaign emissions before launch. Advertisers can approximate and determine what kind of ads to run in order to balance emissions and performance.

Getting started with Sharethrough’s Carbon Emissions Estimator is easy and free. First, simply enter the number of impressions you plan on delivering. Then select the ad formats and the end-user devices. Finally, select the type of inventory and the country of your ad campaigns and click “Estimate Carbon Footprint.”

Advertisers can estimate their carbon emissions using Sharethrough's Carbon Emissions Estimator.

Now that you have an estimate of the potential carbon emissions from your digital ad campaigns, what can you do to reduce the waste? 

Step 2: Reduce

Step two is to reduce carbon emissions wherever possible. And there are two approaches to this: Supply Path Optimization (SPO) and the more recent, Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.)

Supply Path Optimization can serve a variety of purposes. Oftentimes, SPO is used to improve campaign performance and reduce wasted ad spend. As the digital media and advertising industry is learning, reduced carbon emissions are a byproduct of supply path optimization.

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

Taking that a step further, advertisers that want to actively reduce their carbon emissions can begin Carbon Path Optimization. CPO is similar to SPO because it considers many of the same factors with the added measure of carbon waste. 

To make CPO easier for advertisers and brands, Sharethrough’s brand new, curated Low-Emissions PMPs, powered by Scope3’s Climate Shield technology, enable advertisers to reach their target audience on low-emissions/high-performance sites with no extra fees, no additional lift, and no negative impact to performance.

A good place to start with CPO is by removing the worst offenders in terms of carbon emissions. These are typically Made for Advertising (MFA) sites that don’t generate meaningful or high performance but eat up approximately 12% of total advertising spend. To help do our part in building a sustainable programmatic ecosystem, Sharethrough is the first SSP to automatically remove MFA sites from our exchange.

But that’s not all, there’s just one more step left to truly become sustainable.

Step 3: Compensate

The third and final step is to compensate for the inevitable, remaining carbon emissions. Because part of what contributes to carbon emissions in digital campaigns are file sizes and efficiency of data transfers, which are powered by third-party data servers, it is currently impossible to reduce those emissions down to 0. 

The best thing advertisers can do is to reduce their file sizes as much as possible and where possible encourage their server partners to use renewable energy to power their servers.  There’s always going to be some weight to digital. Even if it is down to the bits.

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

Fortunately, for the remaining bits and carbon waste, Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, measure the emissions of digital ad campaigns and compensate for that exact amount of carbon. Join nearly 8,000 active brands that have run GreenPMPs™ that compensated for more than 380 metric tons of CO2e and view real-time progress.

Now that you’ve measured your initial carbon emissions, reduced them where possible, and compensated for the rest, how much of your carbon footprint still remains? This is where we go back to step one and measure to help understand how much progress was made, what were the most effective methods of reducing carbon emissions, and what still remains to be done.

Rinse, Repeat

Sustainability isn’t a one-and-done process. Instead, it’s a continuous cycle that brands and advertisers can continue to reiterate and improve at their own pace and in a way that makes sense for their organizations. Thankfully, it’s a simple cycle that any business and brand can achieve, since all it requires is to measure, reduce and compensate for carbon emissions.

Start your path to net-zero emissions or learn more about sustainability in digital ad campaigns.

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Consumers often hear “reuse, reduce, recycle” as advice to living more sustainably. But what would that advice look like for brands and advertisers that want more sustainable digital advertising campaigns?

In this post, we cover the 3-step process required to minimize the programmatic supply chain’s impact on the environment.

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions From Digital Campaigns in 3 Steps

Step 1: Measure

How do brands and advertisers know if their digital ad campaigns are successful? They have various metrics at hand to measure and evaluate performance. For sustainability initiatives, measurement provides a benchmark or starting point for when advertisers begin to reduce emissions from digital ad campaigns. Measurement also reveals progress made by advertisers, but more on that later. Knowing that many factors contribute to carbon emissions, how can marketers tell what parts of their campaigns generate the most carbon waste?

It’s generally understood that 1 ad impression generates approximately 1 gram of carbon waste and that videos generate more carbon than images. But campaigns spread across millions of impressions and multiple formats. When digital campaigns are run through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, advertisers can measure their actual emissions in real-time using Scope3’s programmatic supply chain data.   

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

Imagine estimating how many clicks or views your campaign would receive and how that would change depending on which factors you adjust. That’s why at Sharethrough, we built our Carbon Emissions Estimator, enabling advertisers to estimate their campaign emissions before launch. Advertisers can approximate and determine what kind of ads to run in order to balance emissions and performance.

Getting started with Sharethrough’s Carbon Emissions Estimator is easy and free. First, simply enter the number of impressions you plan on delivering. Then select the ad formats and the end-user devices. Finally, select the type of inventory and the country of your ad campaigns and click “Estimate Carbon Footprint.”

Advertisers can estimate their carbon emissions using Sharethrough's Carbon Emissions Estimator.

Now that you have an estimate of the potential carbon emissions from your digital ad campaigns, what can you do to reduce the waste? 

Step 2: Reduce

Step two is to reduce carbon emissions wherever possible. And there are two approaches to this: Supply Path Optimization (SPO) and the more recent, Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.)

Supply Path Optimization can serve a variety of purposes. Oftentimes, SPO is used to improve campaign performance and reduce wasted ad spend. As the digital media and advertising industry is learning, reduced carbon emissions are a byproduct of supply path optimization.

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

Taking that a step further, advertisers that want to actively reduce their carbon emissions can begin Carbon Path Optimization. CPO is similar to SPO because it considers many of the same factors with the added measure of carbon waste. 

To make CPO easier for advertisers and brands, Sharethrough’s brand new, curated Low-Emissions PMPs, powered by Scope3’s Climate Shield technology, enable advertisers to reach their target audience on low-emissions/high-performance sites with no extra fees, no additional lift, and no negative impact to performance.

A good place to start with CPO is by removing the worst offenders in terms of carbon emissions. These are typically Made for Advertising (MFA) sites that don’t generate meaningful or high performance but eat up approximately 12% of total advertising spend. To help do our part in building a sustainable programmatic ecosystem, Sharethrough is the first SSP to automatically remove MFA sites from our exchange.

But that’s not all, there’s just one more step left to truly become sustainable.

Step 3: Compensate

The third and final step is to compensate for the inevitable, remaining carbon emissions. Because part of what contributes to carbon emissions in digital campaigns are file sizes and efficiency of data transfers, which are powered by third-party data servers, it is currently impossible to reduce those emissions down to 0. 

The best thing advertisers can do is to reduce their file sizes as much as possible and where possible encourage their server partners to use renewable energy to power their servers.  There’s always going to be some weight to digital. Even if it is down to the bits.

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

Fortunately, for the remaining bits and carbon waste, Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, measure the emissions of digital ad campaigns and compensate for that exact amount of carbon. Join nearly 8,000 active brands that have run GreenPMPs™ that compensated for more than 380 metric tons of CO2e and view real-time progress.

Now that you’ve measured your initial carbon emissions, reduced them where possible, and compensated for the rest, how much of your carbon footprint still remains? This is where we go back to step one and measure to help understand how much progress was made, what were the most effective methods of reducing carbon emissions, and what still remains to be done.

Rinse, Repeat

Sustainability isn’t a one-and-done process. Instead, it’s a continuous cycle that brands and advertisers can continue to reiterate and improve at their own pace and in a way that makes sense for their organizations. Thankfully, it’s a simple cycle that any business and brand can achieve, since all it requires is to measure, reduce and compensate for carbon emissions.

Start your path to net-zero emissions or learn more about sustainability in digital ad campaigns.

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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.

Consumers often hear “reuse, reduce, recycle” as advice to living more sustainably. But what would that advice look like for brands and advertisers that want more sustainable digital advertising campaigns?

In this post, we cover the 3-step process required to minimize the programmatic supply chain’s impact on the environment.

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions From Digital Campaigns in 3 Steps

Step 1: Measure

How do brands and advertisers know if their digital ad campaigns are successful? They have various metrics at hand to measure and evaluate performance. For sustainability initiatives, measurement provides a benchmark or starting point for when advertisers begin to reduce emissions from digital ad campaigns. Measurement also reveals progress made by advertisers, but more on that later. Knowing that many factors contribute to carbon emissions, how can marketers tell what parts of their campaigns generate the most carbon waste?

It’s generally understood that 1 ad impression generates approximately 1 gram of carbon waste and that videos generate more carbon than images. But campaigns spread across millions of impressions and multiple formats. When digital campaigns are run through Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, advertisers can measure their actual emissions in real-time using Scope3’s programmatic supply chain data.   

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

Imagine estimating how many clicks or views your campaign would receive and how that would change depending on which factors you adjust. That’s why at Sharethrough, we built our Carbon Emissions Estimator, enabling advertisers to estimate their campaign emissions before launch. Advertisers can approximate and determine what kind of ads to run in order to balance emissions and performance.

Getting started with Sharethrough’s Carbon Emissions Estimator is easy and free. First, simply enter the number of impressions you plan on delivering. Then select the ad formats and the end-user devices. Finally, select the type of inventory and the country of your ad campaigns and click “Estimate Carbon Footprint.”

Advertisers can estimate their carbon emissions using Sharethrough's Carbon Emissions Estimator.

Now that you have an estimate of the potential carbon emissions from your digital ad campaigns, what can you do to reduce the waste? 

Step 2: Reduce

Step two is to reduce carbon emissions wherever possible. And there are two approaches to this: Supply Path Optimization (SPO) and the more recent, Carbon Path Optimization (CPO.)

Supply Path Optimization can serve a variety of purposes. Oftentimes, SPO is used to improve campaign performance and reduce wasted ad spend. As the digital media and advertising industry is learning, reduced carbon emissions are a byproduct of supply path optimization.

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

Taking that a step further, advertisers that want to actively reduce their carbon emissions can begin Carbon Path Optimization. CPO is similar to SPO because it considers many of the same factors with the added measure of carbon waste. 

To make CPO easier for advertisers and brands, Sharethrough’s brand new, curated Low-Emissions PMPs, powered by Scope3’s Climate Shield technology, enable advertisers to reach their target audience on low-emissions/high-performance sites with no extra fees, no additional lift, and no negative impact to performance.

A good place to start with CPO is by removing the worst offenders in terms of carbon emissions. These are typically Made for Advertising (MFA) sites that don’t generate meaningful or high performance but eat up approximately 12% of total advertising spend. To help do our part in building a sustainable programmatic ecosystem, Sharethrough is the first SSP to automatically remove MFA sites from our exchange.

But that’s not all, there’s just one more step left to truly become sustainable.

Step 3: Compensate

The third and final step is to compensate for the inevitable, remaining carbon emissions. Because part of what contributes to carbon emissions in digital campaigns are file sizes and efficiency of data transfers, which are powered by third-party data servers, it is currently impossible to reduce those emissions down to 0. 

The best thing advertisers can do is to reduce their file sizes as much as possible and where possible encourage their server partners to use renewable energy to power their servers.  There’s always going to be some weight to digital. Even if it is down to the bits.

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

Fortunately, for the remaining bits and carbon waste, Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs™, built in partnership with Scope3, measure the emissions of digital ad campaigns and compensate for that exact amount of carbon. Join nearly 8,000 active brands that have run GreenPMPs™ that compensated for more than 380 metric tons of CO2e and view real-time progress.

Now that you’ve measured your initial carbon emissions, reduced them where possible, and compensated for the rest, how much of your carbon footprint still remains? This is where we go back to step one and measure to help understand how much progress was made, what were the most effective methods of reducing carbon emissions, and what still remains to be done.

Rinse, Repeat

Sustainability isn’t a one-and-done process. Instead, it’s a continuous cycle that brands and advertisers can continue to reiterate and improve at their own pace and in a way that makes sense for their organizations. Thankfully, it’s a simple cycle that any business and brand can achieve, since all it requires is to measure, reduce and compensate for carbon emissions.

Start your path to net-zero emissions or learn more about sustainability in digital ad campaigns.

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 of Insights, Strategy & Sustainability

About the Author

Frank has spent over a decade at Sharethrough conducting research to better understand how humans respond to advertising to help brands and agencies adapt their unique advertising challenges to ever-evolving media consumption behaviors. In order to accelerate sustainability initiatives at Sharethrough and across the advertising industry, he recently completed his “Sustainability in Business” certification from Harvard Business School. He has also led multiple sustainability initiatives, including helping to launch the ad industry’s first Green Media Product “GreenPMPs,” hosting the advertising industry’s first Green Media Summit and speaking at Climate Week NYC. 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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