GroupM wants to lead the industry on decarbonization efforts — will other media agencies follow?

climate change revenue

GroupM unveiled on Tuesday a complicated but thorough attempt at creating a media decarbonization framework, which it hopes will ultimately lead to actually reducing the output of climate-degrading carbon production from current levels.

The rollout serves as the second phase after WPP vowed last year to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The announcement comes as many parts of the world are suffering record high temperatures that offer further evidence that man-made factors are creating a dangerous tilt toward devastating long-term climate change.

We’ve invested the time and the money and the effort to get here, but we really want universal adoption.
Krystal Olivieri, global chief innovation officer, GroupM & Choreograph

GroupM, in explaining the framework to reporters on Monday, repeatedly cited the need for industry-wide cooperation among media companies and fellow holding companies — using trade organizations as a means for establishing cross-industry collaboration. Important benchmarks such as agreed-upon standards of measurement of carbon usage across media are essential to the industry making progress, said the two GroupM executives who presented the framework.

“We think it’s very important that it’s not just GroupM’s measurement framework,” said Krystal Olivieri, global chief innovation officer at GroupM & Choreograph. “We’ve invested the time and the money and the effort to get here, but we really want universal adoption… all of the holding companies, clients, platforms to lean in and to help feed this similarly to how we did with GARM [Global Alliance for Responsible Media], to make sure we can move this forward.”

But there seems to be little unity at this early point, at least among fellow holding companies — and even a bit of reluctance among the 4A’s, the agency world’s trade organization and the Association of National Advertisers, both of which declined to comment. A representative for the ANA did note that the organization is part of Ad Net Zero, which includes a host of other trade bodies and holding companies.

Havas Media Group, IPG’s Mediabrands and Mediahub agencies each all declined to comment. Neither Omnicom Media Group nor Publicis Media replied to a request for comment. 

Peter Huijboom, Dentsu International’s global CEO of media and global clients touted his agency’s own efforts to combat climate change, pointing to research the company released last year calling for industry unity on the subject.

We know, and we’ve accepted the fact that perfection here is a moving target, and it’s not going to be a snap of the fingers.
Krystal Olivieri

“Dentsu is a firm believer in the need to collaborate across the industry to truly address and tackle society-critical topics like climate change — this is not something one organization can do alone,” Huijboom said.

GroupM is fully aware the crisis won’t be solved overnight but is making strides to get to that goal, such as its recent move to consolidate the number of sales-side platforms it works with to reduce the number of middlemen, and therefore the amount of energy used to make investments for clients.

“We know, and we’ve accepted the fact that perfection here is a moving target, and it’s not going to be a snap of the fingers,” said Olivieri, who noted that such moves put data directly in the hands of advertisers to make more informed decisions.

Oliver Joyce, global chief transformation officer at GroupM’s Mindshare, who presented with Olivieri, argued that the industry needs to move much faster. “We have a track record of coming together” to solve other issues such as privacy. “But we need to move much much quicker on climate. And what we’re saying here is this is much more complex but there is absolute urgency and I think good intent in the industry to do this.”

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