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Media Buying Briefing: Sustainability once again takes center stage across digital media

climate change revenue

Late last week, a coalition of governmental organizations, academics and private sector companies banded together at an environmental conference to form the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES), to engender a “green revolution,” as its announcement blared. 

To paraphrase from the movie Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers — looks like sustainability’s back on the menu, boys!

In this iteration of the “green conversation,” the focus seems to center around digital processes that consume excessive amounts of energy or lead to excessive emissions. The entire digital landscape is under scrutiny, even though executives reached for this story agreed marketers aren’t yet penalizing energy hogs.

“Today I’m not hearing pressure from clients yet to reduce emissions of their campaigns,” said Ed McElvain, executive vp of Mediahub’s P3 unit, which handles data-driven and digital platforms buying. “I would like that to be something that… we can take to them and work with them on establishing that as a goal.”

Brian O’Kelley, CEO and founder of Scope3, an ad-tech firm focused on sustainable practices, noted that other media markets across the globe have been focusing more intently on sustainability compared to the U.S., notably Australia and western Europe.

To help with that, Digiday has learned that Scope3 and ad exchange Sharethrough will announce tomorrow they are partnering to launch Green PMPs (private marketplaces), which lets brands offset emissions that comprise up to 95 percent of a company’s carbon impact caused by ad impressions. It will also help to decarbonize the programmatic advertising supply chain, which is seen as one of the worst offenders, as it often requires dozens of humming servers to process a single ad buy.

“What started with brands growing their sustainable marketing initiatives has grown into a broader understanding of the environmental impact of the advertising supply chain,” said Luc Marsolais, chief operations officer at Sharethrough. “Particularly with more and more brands and agencies committing to be carbon neutral, such commitments aren’t possible without the ad tech industry building solutions to offset the carbon produced from the energy required to deliver ads.”

“In the programmatic landscape, we always want to have the most direct path to supply as possible,” said McElvain. “That’s just good for cost efficiency, regardless of emissions. As the world is moving more towards first-party data, and setting up private marketplace deals, I think we will naturally sort of start gravitating towards more direct engagement, and less links in that in that programmatic chain. Doing that will also have the benefit of reducing emissions.”

O’Kelley credited all the holding companies for taking the issue seriously and cited WPP and GroupM in particular for moving last year to reach zero emissions across its own network as well as the entire supply chain it works with by 2030.

“They set the standard for the market, and that is causing a seismic shift throughout the market,” said O’Kelley. “That means every every publisher, every media owner, has to have a net-zero strategy. They don’t — most companies haven’t started taking this seriously yet.”

Last week, attention metrics firm Adelaide promoted its AU metric to optimize ad campaigns to be more effective, and therefore less wasteful. The company worked with Scope3 to show how attention applied to planning created 14 percent fewer emissions than using viewability as a metric. “Buying higher quality media benefits publishers, consumers and advertisers. And now it also benefits the environment,” said Marc Guldimann, CEO of Adelaide.

Color by numbers

$1.5 billion — that’s the haul that connected TV and streaming platforms are expected to secure from political advertisers in the lead-up to this fall’s midterm elections. It amounts to 17 percent of total expected political ad spend this year. This is according to data intelligence firm AdImpact, which has partnered with Innovid/TV Squared on cross-platform measurement for political campaigns in linear and CTV.

Takeoff & landing

  • Mindshare hired Kathy Kline is to be chief strategy and innovation officer for North America. Kline was most recently global chief strategy officer at Starcom. Mindshare also launched Precisely Human Intelligence, a machine-learning-based suite of tools that aims to “help brands better understand the motivations, mindsets and emotions that drive consumer decision-making and then buy those audiences at scale.”
  • Stagwell promoted three executives within its Constellation network: Justin Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Instrument was named chair of the network. He replaces current chair John Boiler (founder of 72andSunny), who becomes creative chair. Replacing Lewis as CEO of Instrument is president Kara Place.
  • Private equity firm GTCR, through its portfolio subsidiary Dreamscape, made a strategic investment whose amount it wouldn’t disclose, into ad intelligence firm Standard Media Index. SMI’s CEO James Fennessy will step down but join Dreamscape’s board and will be replaced by martech veteran Scott Knoll, one of Dreamscape’s partners.

Direct quote

“Online platforms should be subject to the same policies as television and radio broadcasters. Content aired on television and radio have strict standards, which serves to both attract audiences and advertisers to those platforms. The internet, in that sense, should be no different. Platforms should be allowed to have the ability, like their counterparts, to have standards which dictate which content they allow to provide for the best user experience.”

— IAB’s EVP for Public Policy Lartease Tiffith, on the organization’s opposition to the Texas law that restricts content moderation.

Speed reading

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