The Rising Pressure to be Greener

Kelsey Corlett, Programmatic Manager, CvE

There is increasing pressure on advertisers, agencies, and ad tech providers to consider and minimize the negative impact of their advertising activities on the environment. This is fundamentally changing the programmatic landscape and creating new opportunities and challenges for all stakeholders involved. 

Programmatic advertising affects the environment in several ways:

Programmatic advertising involves the use of complex algorithms and automated processes to buy and sell ad space in real time. These processes require significant computational power and data storage, which in turn require energy consumption. The energy consumption associated with programmatic advertising leads to carbon emissions.

Programmatic advertising relies on data centers, servers, and networks to process and deliver ads. These infrastructure components consume a substantial amount of energy, contributing to carbon emissions. The energy consumption of these systems is further amplified by the growth of digital advertising, as the demand for ad impressions and data processing increases. The energy required to transmit and process data across networks and the energy consumed by users’ devices also add to the overall carbon footprint.

Advertisers and industry professionals are increasingly being forced to recognize their responsibility and take steps to reduce the environmental impact of programmatic advertising. This includes adopting more sustainable practices, optimizing ad delivery processes, and exploring alternative energy sources for powering data centers.

Matt Longley, Managing Director at Mobsta said –

“Sustainability in media is something we take incredibly seriously and our passion for this comes from when we shockingly discovered the truth about our emissions. Data transfer accounts for 85% of digital ad emissions and two years ago no one in the industry was talking about it. Armed with that knowledge I don’t think any company can afford not to be engaged in finding a solution. Our B Corp status isn’t a mere badge of honour but is front and centre of everything we do.”

What is being done to reduce the energy intensiveness of programmatic advertising?

The next generation of programmatic advertisers is putting more emphasis on supply path optimisation. Supply path optimisation can play a significant role in reducing the impact of programmatic advertising on the environment. By implementing sustainable practices and considering environmental factors throughout the supply chain, companies can minimize their carbon footprint and promote environmental sustainability. 

To reduce the carbon footprint of programmatic advertising through supply path optimisation, companies can take several steps:

Collaborate with sustainable partners: Work with advertising platforms, agencies, and technology providers that prioritize sustainability and have implemented measures to reduce their carbon emissions. This collaboration ensures that the entire supply chain is aligned in reducing environmental impact.

B Lab is doing work in the sustainability space to help certify for-profit companies based on their “social and environmental performance”. To be granted and to maintain “B-Corp” certification, companies must receive a minimum score of 80 from an assessment of “social and environmental performance”. B-Corp status will help industry roleplayers to better identify suppliers that are working to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Reduce intermediaries: Implement supply path optimization strategies to minimize unnecessary intermediaries and reduce the energy consumption and emissions associated with programmatic advertising. With so many tech providers involved, supply paths can very quickly become over cumbersome. An example of improving efficiencies in the supply path would be to generate more direct relationships with publishers and data providers. 

Leverage sustainable data centers: Choose data centers that prioritize renewable energy sources and energy-efficient infrastructure.

Promote sustainable ad formats: Encourage the use of sustainable ad formats, such as static or HTML5 ads, which consume less energy compared to resource-intensive formats like video or rich media. This reduces the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with ad delivery.

Reduce wasted spend: Utilize advanced targeting and optimization techniques to ensure that ads are served to the right audience at the right time. By delivering relevant ads to users who are more likely to engage with them, companies can minimize wasted impressions and reduce energy consumption.

Optimize Bid Requests: By reducing the number of unnecessary bids, you can help reduce data transfers and energy consumption. Lazy load technology, for example, can be used to help eliminate unnecessary ad requests and helps to improve overall ad viewability.

Measure and report carbon emissions: Various organizations have developed carbon calculators to estimate the carbon emissions associated with digital advertising campaigns. These calculators take into account factors such as ad impressions, data transmission, and energy consumption to provide insights into the carbon footprint of programmatic advertising.

While these considerations place more pressure on marketers to rethink their supply and demand strategies, they also provide an incredible opportunity for industry players to develop new tools and technologies to reduce inefficiencies in the programmatic space. With environmental issues mounting, it’s inevitable that we reflect inward to see how we can work together to make our industry greener. While taking steps towards optimising the supply path improves environmental outcomes and shows marketers taking responsibility for their own output, there are also gains to be made with more effective campaigns; a win-win for all! 

Contact me, Kelsey Corlett at for more advice on getting your advertising efforts Carbon Neutral. I am more than happy to guide and support you and your brand moving forward.

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