Programmatic advertising generates 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each month across five major global economies

Scope3’s landmark State of Sustainable Advertising Report finds the worst-performing 10% of web domains account for more than 33 metric tones of CO2e every month

The programmatic advertising industry produces more than 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions in a single month across five leading economies, the equivalent to more than 24 million gallons of gasoline being consumed. That’s according to Scope3’s ‘Q1 2023 State of Sustainable Advertising’ report, providing the most comprehensive data ever compiled on the digital advertising sector’s carbon footprint.

The landmark report, covering the USA, the UK, Australia, Germany and France provides first-of-its-kind benchmarking data to power significant progress on the sustainability movement in advertising, and providing guidelines for modelling emissions and informing carbon reduction strategies.

Scope3, founded in 2022 by ad tech industry veterans is on a mission to decarbonize media and advertising and has built partnerships across the industry to raise awareness and take action across the industry: if the industry were to eliminate spending across the highest emitting domains for carbon emissions in these regions, more than 33.5K metric tons of carbon can be removed each and every month.

“This report is a crucial moment for the industry to pause and consider how we come together to tackle the climate emergency,” said Anne Coghlan, Co-Founder and COO at Scope3. “We are striving for a more effective advertising industry with the least impact on the environment, something that can only be achieved by industry collaboration, using the right data and taking action now. For the first time, we know where to take action to deliver the most immediate impact.”

Key findings of the paper include:

  • 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions are produced every month across the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia
  • ‘Climate Risk’ websites have emissions as much as twice the industry average — eliminating spend on these sites can save 33.5k mt of CO2e each month (the equivalent to 3,449 road trips around planet earth)
  • The majority (60%) of carbon generated by the programmatic advertising comes from ‘ad selection emissions’ and can be attributed to the notoriously complex supply chain

“By changing the way we configure the trillions of auctions that match advertisers with ad placements, we can dramatically reduce the energy consumption of the process,” said Brian O’Kelley, Co-Founder and CEO at Scope3. “And, in doing so, we improve transparency, reduce privacy risk, and increase the proportion of spend in working media, without adverse revenue impact for publishers and no adverse performance or reach impact for buyers.”

Scope3 is now partnering with companies across the industry to harness this data to drive meaningful reduction strategies. Earlier this month, Insider, Inc. shared promising results following its publisher assessment by Scope3. After implementing recommendations from Scope3, the media company measurably reduced its carbon emissions from the beginning of the year.

To download the report, visit the Scope3 website.