With the climate crisis, harsh economic environment and an increasingly competitive marketing landscape looming over brands, those that are optimising for sustainability and business growth simultaneously are paving the way for true long-term and resilient business performance.

In this article, I explore the data-led standards, technologies, and practices discussed in GroupM Nexus’ People and Planet event that are helping brands reduce carbon emissions, deliver more impactful ads, and improve campaign performance.

Shining light on your brand’s carbon footprint

A recurring theme throughout the event was the marketing landscape’s progression towards data dependence.

As the media industry becomes increasingly data intensive, brands have a responsibility to refine their operations towards lower energy consumption. Current estimates show that online advertising uses as much energy as a small country and data centres consume over two percent of the world’s electricity.

This is why GroupM, in line with WPP’s commitment to reach net-zero by 2030, in 2022 launched the Carbon Measurement Framework - a global framework for media decarbonisation that enables advertisers to measure the carbon emissions of marketing campaigns from development to delivery. The framework provides a standardised plan for brands to accelerate towards net-zero emissions through measuring data consumption, and include emissions from media placements in their overall reduction targets, while delivering highly effective campaigns. 

Core to the framework is GroupM’s Carbon Calculator, — a tool that accurately measures the carbon footprint of ad production across all formats, channels, and markets. This solution authorises brands to direct their media investments to lower-emission media publishers, and highlights  the energy-intensive activities they can address.

Sustainable campaigns achieve more with fewer ads

Brands’ opportunities to simultaneously maximise performance and sustainability by making data-led decisions in their media planning were made clear throughout the event.

Using algorithmic bidding is one example, offering the ability to ingest and prioritise multiple data sets while optimising towards numerous different KPIs – including carbon emissions targets. Marketers that also exclude unsuitable publishers from their bidding categories – such as Made For Advertising sites – decrease the likelihood of their ads being wasted on ill-suited audiences.

By delivering higher quality ads to more tailored publishers and audiences, not only can brands reduce ad wastage — and therefore carbon emissions — but they also reach their most valued customers more impactfully; driving campaign performance and delivering better customer experiences.

Harnessing data to create a cleaner future

Data operations can contribute the bulk of a brand’s carbon footprint, so it’s important any data collected is valuable, accessible, and can make an impact. 

Data from Scope3 and GroupM shows that, by 2030, granular channel-level measurement capabilities can reduce carbon emissions per media impression by 50%. Marketers that employ advanced data strategy to activation, measurement and analytics  can make better sustainability decisions, achieve business goals efficiently, and use gathered insights to inform subsequent campaigns as well as business outcomes. 

Overall, the verdict was clear: decarbonising the marketing industry is a clear opportunity to open the doors to faster, more effective, and cleaner advertising but it requires industry-wide adoption of standardised frameworks and technologies, particularly from global key players, and a close collaboration across all industry stakeholders, from agencies to brands. With these steps in place it is possible to create a future for our industry  — which is not only good for brands and consumers, but also for the planet.

To learn more, head to the GroupM Nexus People & Planet content and discover how advertising can work better for everyone. 

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