Study: 15% of digital advertising is wasted leading to increased carbon emissions


Ebiquity and Scope3 released a report exposing the extraordinary cost of excessive supply chain waste in digital advertising and its impact on the environment.

The joint study analyzed more than $375 million in digital ad spend across 116 billion display ad impressions from 43 brand advertisers and found that 15.3% of their ad spend is wasted on inventory that doesn’t generates no value for their business while generating excessive amounts of CO2. emissions.

The report also marks the first time that Scope3 has published global industry benchmarks using its carbon emissions measurement data, providing brands with a basis for comparison and understanding of the relative performance and cost of carbon associated with their advertising investments.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Website carbon emissions vary significantly with CO2PM per website ranging from 55.2g to 4782.8g, an 87X difference. This confirms a major opportunity for brands to favor media partners with optimized programs.
  • The weighted global average of digital ad emissions is 670g CO2PM based on 116 billion ad impressions. According to Scope3 data of 77,826 MtCO2e, this is equivalent to transporting 1.35 million passengers from London to Paris – it would take 3.7 million mature trees in a year to absorb this amount of carbon.
  • “Made for Advertising” (MFA) websites contribute heavily to carbon emissions while delivering no value to brands. CO2PM on MFA’ [1] websites, classified as wasteful by Ebiquity, are 26.4% HIGHER than non-MFA websites. Of all US spend analyzed by Ebiquity, 15.3% was wasted on MFA inventory.
  • Redirecting investments to high-quality journalism can increase the effectiveness of advertisements and reduce emissions. CO2PM on “trusted news websites”[2] is 52% LOWER than on MFA websites, creating a strong argument for brands to stop unnecessary MFA spending.

“Being able to put real numbers against the carbon emissions of digital advertising is just the start of a long journey towards real change in the industry,” said Brian O’Kelley, CEO of Scope3. “These metrics show that not all digital ads are created equal. The wide range of shows presents a clear opportunity for the industry to make better decisions. Brands now have a guide on what to look for and how they can start thinking about minimizing and optimizing for more effective, carbon-neutral advertising. »

“This study demonstrates that the advertising industry is now able to quantify CO2 emissions across websites, markets and media categories. We believe CO2PM should be adopted immediately as a core metric to influence decision-making and direct technology and media partners to optimize sustainability,” said Nick Waters, Group CEO at Ebiquity Plc. “The most striking insight is that the brands in the sample spent 15.3% of their budget on Made For Advertising inventory, which has no value.”

Waters continued, “Instead, that money could have been invested in high-quality news websites, delivering high advertising effectiveness in a brand-safe environment, while supporting quality journalism and broadcasting. less than half of CO2e By acting together, we can reduce the harmful impact of our industry on the planet.

Scope3 and Ebiquity plan to conduct additional studies and release benchmarks in 2023 for more advertising channels, including connected TV and social media platforms.


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