Going Green: The Carbon Footprint of Programmatic Advertising


09 May 2023

In today’s eco-conscious world, businesses must consider their environmental impact, and programmatic advertising is no exception. Recent data from the VideoWeek Sustainability Advertising Guide 2023 reveals that the industry produces over 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions every month in five leading economies, with 60% of emissions attributed to ‘ad selection emissions’ due to the complex supply chain.

What is your carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon emissions produced by an activity, and in programmatic advertising, it includes energy consumption for servers, data centers, and digital devices.

What can we do to reduce our carbon footprint in programmatic advertising? 

Programmatic campaigns that use fewer data-heavy elements such as video and rich media tend to produce less emissions than those that rely heavily on such elements. Also, campaigns that target a specific audience or location can be more efficient in terms of carbon emissions as they reduce unnecessary programmatic ad spend by serving only interested users.

Header bidding is an innovative technology that has revolutionized programmatic advertising, and it has the potential to play a significant role in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. By eliminating the traditional “waterfall” bidding system and allowing publishers to offer their inventory to multiple exchanges simultaneously, header bidding increases competition and drives up prices for ad space. This, in turn, reduces the number of ads that need to be served to achieve the same revenue, ultimately decreasing the carbon emissions produced by programmatic advertising. Additionally, header bidding offers more control and increased occupancy for publishers, making it a win-win solution for both advertisers and the environment.

Carbon inventory and publishers

While advertisers are ultimately responsible for the carbon emissions produced by their campaigns, publishers also play an important role in reducing the carbon footprint of programmatic advertising. By optimizing their websites and other digital properties to reduce the amount of data being transferred, publishers can help to minimize the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with programmatic advertising. This can be achieved by using lightweight ad formats, reducing the number of ad requests per page, and minimizing the use of third-party data.

In conclusion 

As the industry continues to evolve and expand, we should take steps to reduce our impact on the environment. By using renewable energy sources, optimizing our digital infrastructure, and working closely with advertisers and publishers, we can create a more sustainable future for programmatic advertising.


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