Reducing carbon footprint in digital advertising using programmatic


By Ramya Parashar, COO, MiQ

The digital advertising industry is worth billions of dollars and is projected to reach a size of US$1.5 Trillion by 2030, according to a Research and Markets report. This fast-growing industry relies on millions of servers, making it a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. As the world becomes increasingly aware of the impact of climate change, reducing the carbon footprint of digital campaigns has become a critical issue for businesses. As more and more companies look to incorporate digital into their climate goals, sustainable advertising has and will continue to become part of that equation.

Programmatic advertising can help reduce carbon footprint by delivering ads to specific audiences, reducing the number of wasted impressions, and the energy consumption of the servers and data centers that power the ads. However, solving this problem in programmatic requires the analysis of big data in the order of billions of rows of granular information. It’s a tough data science challenge because we need to build models that can reduce emissions while simultaneously increasing sales for clients, which is not an easy task. We also need to build highly expressive multi-feature models to capture the nuance of the situation. 

Measure Your Carbon Footprint

The first step towards reducing the carbon footprint of digital campaigns is to measure it. By measuring the carbon emissions associated with digital campaigns, businesses can identify areas where improvements can be made. Emissions can vary depending on the country, device, ad format, publisher, programmatic exchange, and much more. This requires measuring emissions to understand the impact of the entire ad supply chain. Businesses can also use a carbon calculator that is tailored for India-specific data.

Managing Data Sets and Optimizing Digital Ads

Digital ads require a significant amount of energy to be created, distributed, and displayed, which can have a considerable impact on the environment. Programmatic is good at managing data sets that can be used to measure, bid, and optimize ads. For any given campaign, we must look at what is generating the most emissions. Is it the domains, the creative, or the supply path with all the ad calls and hops between an ad request and eventual impressions? For each, we have a way to reduce the carbon impact. Businesses can optimize their ads by reducing their file size, optimizing ad placement, and using more sustainable ad formats like HTML5. Additionally, businesses can use renewable energy sources to power their servers and data centers, further reducing their carbon footprint.

Reducing emissions through smarter ad buying

Web hosting requires a significant amount of energy to power servers and data centers, which can have a considerable impact on the environment. Creating exclusion lists removes the top 5% of offenders from bid lists. Ad buyers can refrain from buying ad space on websites or domains that have been found to have a high carbon footprint. Additionally, for creative, businesses can work with partners who use adaptive streaming to lighten ad loads. Lastly, using green PMPs (Private Marketplaces) for the supply path thus, ensuring that the ad supply chain is optimized for sustainability and can reduce emissions associated with serving ads. 

Reducing the carbon footprint of digital campaigns is a critical issue for businesses in India and around the world. Implementing the key steps like – measuring the carbon footprint, optimizing digital ads, reducing emissions through smarter ad buying, and reducing data usage – can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy costs, and increase brand reputation. 


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