Last year the industry got its hands on the first ever data set to shed insight into a major cause of waste within the digital ad ecosystem… and the hidden cost of it.
Analysing more than $375M of digital ad spend across 116bn display impressions from 43 brands, the first of it’s kind study by Ebiquity found:
With growing intensity around a brand’s sustainability efforts, marketers now have a new metric to take into account when improving performance of campaigns: carbon emissions.
But, where do you turn to measure and understand emissions? And, how do you stack up against what’s happening industry-wide?
Identifying the guideposts: Looking closely at the Ebiquity report, a very specific (yet very large) sample of impressions was studied. The results established a cohort emissions benchmark specifically for display campaigns run by top global brand advertisers**.**
Notably, though, the results also showed a wide range of carbon emissions depending on the site and campaign. So, even if you fit into this specific cohort for comparison, it doesn’t mean this is the one and only indicator for whether your emissions are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
What happens when the campaign variables change? Will there every be a single number we can look to as an industry when it comes to carbon emissions?
The short answer? If you’re looking for a true global benchmark for carbon emissions, there isn’t just one. Too many variables go into campaigns, which means that setting a global, all encompassing benchmark is unhelpful for driving change.
Diving deeper, it’s a matter of complexity: The challenge of establishing new benchmarks isn’t new to us — remember the early days addressing viewability and fraud? But, measuring carbon emissions will require a bit more specificity.
A number of factors make every campaign unique and when it comes to carbon, those factors impact emissions output at the impression level. In a sense, impressions are like snowflakes — each and every one is different. What are some of the factors to think about?
Now consider how many impressions are in each campaign. Think about how each campaign can consists of a broad mix of any and all these elements. That’s where it gets complicated to decisively use terms such as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ especially compared to one set number.
How then, do you think about emissions benchmarks? Media strategy is dynamic and our benchmarks need to be, too.
We have a wealth of data at our fingertips, so there’s no need to oversimplify and use one data point. We need specific, robust and granular data to make informed decisions. As we continue learn and refine the way we measure and analyze emissions, we then have a solid foundation to guide us in the right direction.
Remember the end goal: At the end of the day, we’re all aiming for a collective goal — a net zero industry. This is achievable. Starting with measurement is a big first step, but the job isn’t done until real change is made and carbon emissions are reduced.