BlueTriton Brands, holding company to water brands Arrowhead and Deer Park, is working with tech platform Teads, and its carbon measurement partner Impact+, to track, and ultimately, reduce, carbon emissions generated through ad serving.
Increasingly, advertisers are trying to figure out the carbon impact of their digital ad activity, such as the amount of energy needed to fuel digital ads, and how serving the creative relies on downloading content to the end user’s device, which contributes to carbon emissions.
“I’m very curious about how [Impact+ metrics] makes carbon reductions and climate change more tangible to people in an avenue they’re not aware of today,” BlueTriton chief sustainability officer Edward Ferguson, told Adweek. According to BlueTriton, 90% of its ads run on digital channels.
There’s a lack of standardization in how to measure carbon emissions in the media supply chain. Ad-tech companies like PubMatic have CO2 measurement tools for advertising through a partnership with Ad Net Zero, an organization committed to reducing ad carbon emissions to 0 by the end of 2030. Still, for real progress, agreement on a common standard is needed.
“The industry is going through the early stages of trying to create common definitions across this space, also including common benchmarks,” said Teads co-chief executive officer Jeremy Arditi.
And while some companies are stuck on proving the validity of their own carbon measurement, others are using it as a value-add for brands when they use ancillary services.
BlueTriton is using Teads’ full end-to-end stack, from access to its direct supply to its business outcomes measurement, to serve its ads. Teads has been a Horizon Media partner for years while the agency won the BT account in April. With the partnership with Impact+, it will measure its carbon footprint in two ways: the amount of power per hour in impressions, in other words, watt-hour (Wh) or kilowatt-hour (kWh), and the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)—a metric used to compare emissions from greenhouse gases other than CO2, like methane and nitrous oxide and its global-warming potential.
For a standard ad campaign in the U.S., a 15-second creative generates about 220Wh per 1000 impressions, which is 80g of CO2e per 1000 impressions, according to research from Impact+. Electricity accounts for 40% of those emissions and 60% from user device manufacturing emissions, per the firm. Impact+ also found around 370g of CO2e are emitted per kWh of electricity consumed in the U.S.
Teads plans to integrate Impact+ measurement for all brands using its end-to-end stack. Its goal is to solidify a CO2 benchmark that brands can meet if they use Teads’ full tech stack, along with suggestions for reducing carbon emissions. The added metric will come at no extra cost to brands but, ultimately, will attract more companies to Teads’ full service.
BlueTriton Brands, along with its agency Horizon Media, will use suggestions from Teads on ways to reduce carbon emissions, for instance making changes to assets of types of code, and more granular targeting to reduce wastage.
“Maybe a portion of the media spend goes to one of the charitable organizations [focused on] sustainability,” Horizon executive vice president digital, managing partner Autumn White, told Adweek.
Teads started working with the measurement firm last year and has measured CO2 emissions for brands in France. Since then, 100 European brands have used Teads’ suite to learn about their carbon emissions. For one brand, electricity consumption per impression decreased by 40% due to sharper contextual targeting and adjusting creative asset size, according to Teads.
Now, the company is using data from these campaigns and BlueTriton to evaluate carbon emissions in the U.S. and build benchmarks. According to Teads, in 2020 the entire digital sector’s carbon footprint accounted for between 2.1 and 3.9% of global emissions.
“We are accountable, as advertisers, for the media supply chain, meaning the emissions from not just producing the ad, like creative production, but also for funding a publisher or media owner, and everything in between,” said Scope3 co-founder and chief executive officer Brian O’Kelley, adding that digital and online advertising alone accounts for 100 million metric tons of carbon emissions. To compare, YouTube alone takes up 10 million metric tons, O’Kelley told Adweek.
“One of the most important things from this is to get the industry interested in doing something like this as our world is becoming more digital,” said Ferguson “We need those that are actually purchasing the advertising activities to show more commitment in this space and more interest because it connects with consumers.”