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Ebiquity and Scope3 Research Study Reveals That 15% of Brand Ad Spend is Wasted, Contributing High Carbon Emissions and No ROI

Ebiquity and Scope3 today released a new 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 $375M of digital advertising spend across 116bn display ad impressions from 43 brand advertisers and revealed that 15.3% of their advertising spend is wasted on inventory that generates no value to their business while generating excessive amounts of CO2 emissions.  

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

Key findings from the study include:

  • Carbon emissions of websites varies dramatically with CO2PM per website ranging from 55.2g to 4,782.8g, an 87X difference. This confirms a major opportunity for brands to prioritize media partners with optimized emissions.
  • The global weighted average of digital ad emissions is 670g CO2PM based on 116bn ad impressions. According to Scope3 data of 77,826 MtCO2e, this is the equivalent of flying 1.35 million passengers from London to Paris – it would take 3.7 million fully-grown trees one year to absorb this amount of carbon.
  • ‘Made for Advertising’ (MFA) websites are high contributors to carbon emissions while providing no value to brands. CO2PM on MFA’[1] websites, classified as wastage by Ebiquity, is 26.4% HIGHER than non-MFA websites. Of all US spend analyzed by Ebiquity, 15.3% was wasted on MFA inventory.
  • Reallocating investment to high quality journalism can boost ad effectiveness and lower emissions. CO2PM on ‘Trusted News Websites’[2] is 52% LOWER than on MFA websites, creating a strong case for brands to cease wasteful MFA spend.

“Being able to put real numbers against the carbon emissions of digital advertising is just the beginning of a long journey to driving real change across the industry,” said Brian O’Kelley, CEO of Scope3. “These metrics highlight that all digital advertising isn’t equal. The wide range of emissions presents a clear opportunity for the industry to make better decisions. Brands now have a guide for what to look for and how they can begin to think about reduction and optimization for more effective and carbon-neutral advertising.”

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

Waters continued, “Instead, this money could have been invested on high quality news websites, delivering high ad effectiveness in a brand safe environment, whilst supporting quality journalism, and emitting less than half of the CO2e.  By acting together, we can reduce the harmful impact our industry has 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.  

A webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, 10 January at 11am EST (4pm GMT) where Scope3 CEO Brian O’Kelley and Ebiquity Group Chief Product Officer Ruben Schreurs will present the full findings and recommendations. Register here.


About Scope3

Scope3 is on a mission to decarbonize media and advertising. For organizations seeking to make carbon-aware business decisions, Scope3 is the supply chain emissions data standard that delivers an accurate, comprehensive, and independent emissions model for every company in the digital ecosystem. Scope3 enables the industry-wide usage of Green Media Products (GMPs), or carbon-neutral media, by measuring emissions and managing the purchase of high-quality carbon removal contributions.

About Ebiquity Plc

Ebiquity plc, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange (AIM: EBQ), is the world leader in media investment analysis. We harness the power of data to provide independent, fact-based advice, enabling brand owners to perfect media investment decisions and improve business outcomes.

We are a data-driven solutions company helping brand owners drive efficiency and effectiveness from their media spend, eliminating wastage and creating value. We provide analysis and solutions through five Service Lines: media management, media performance, marketing effectiveness, technology advisory and contract compliance.

Ebiquity is able to provide independent, unbiased advice and solutions to brands because we have no commercial interest in any part of the media supply chain. More than 500 media specialists operate from our 19 offices worldwide, covering 80% of the global advertising market.

Ebiquity has the most comprehensive, independent view of today’s global media market. We analyse $55bn of media spend from 75 markets annually, including trillions of digital media impressions. Our Contract Compliance division, FirmDecisions, audits $40bn of contract value annually.  As a result, more than 70 of the world’s top 100 advertisers today choose Ebiquity as their trusted independent media advisor.

Media Contact

Tiffany Collins

Director of Communications, Scope3


[1] For more information on ‘Made For Advertising’, please see a previous study conducted by Ebiquity in July:  


[2] Average CO2PM based on 27 high quality news websites included on the inclusion list, qualified as ‘trusted’ by the Global Disinformation Index

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