4 Ways We Can Make Media Buying More Sustainable

February 20, 2023 — by MediaMath    

We spoke in our last blog post about digital advertising’s sizable contribution to scope 3 emissions despite using little paper or ink in the end-to-end campaign-creation process. It’s not all doom and gloom though, participants in the digital media supply chain can do a number of things to bring more sustainability to the industry.

How to win at sustainable advertising  

The key to reducing the carbon footprint of your media buying really comes down to reducing media waste. To do this, you need to increase your win rate, which measures the number of impressions served over the number of bids you issue. A high win rate indicates fewer wasted bids, resulting in lower carbon emitting activities. Here are four ways you can improve your win rate. 

1. Enhance the sustainability of creatives

If your creatives miss the mark, you could end up with a low bid or win rate. There are a few tips for making sure they don’t:

  • Confirm the inventory sources you’re targeting have approved your creatives and that you have uploaded the appropriate creative type and size for your targeted inventory. 
  • Recycle your creatives or reuse elements to refresh them, avoiding the need for carbon-expensive film and video shoots. A large-budget US-based creative video shoot can produce emissions equivalent to over 200 tons of CO2, according to a study by 55. 
  • Reducing the video creative length. At Cannes Lions, Laure-Sarah Labrunie of Nestle Media shared that the CPG brand A/B-tested creatives with lower video resolution and monophonic sound, both of which yield lower carbon output. The brand found that there was no material impact on any of the brand’s KPIs. 
  • Consider dynamic creative optimization to deliver better, fewer ads. Personalizing ad content based on previous consumer activity or environment—like time of day or weather—improves ad quality and relevance, leading to better marketing outcomes and improved return on advertising spend.

2. Refine your supply paths  

Supply path optimization (SPO) helps simplify the digital supply chain between you and the publishers on which you run ads, removing unnecessary intermediaries and reducing duplicative auction activity. Since a key element of sustainability in the ad ecosystem is about reducing excess digital activities, every unnecessary step you remove from the supply chain can decrease the carbon footprint produced by an ad campaign. To uphold the highest standard of inventory quality and brand safety, MediaMath has incorporated partner quality standards and several invalid traffic and brand safety technology solutions to ensure maximum protection for your brand across authorized and optimized supply paths. These techniques and solutions help you avoid unnecessary bidding, reducing the carbon impact of your media-buying activities.

3. Rethink your targeting  

In addition to SPO, applying ad targeting to reach your intended audience and capture their attention will not only yield positive business outcomes, like improved ROI and lower CPAs, but also reduce the carbon footprint of the media-buying process. Attention metrics, indicating whether and for how long your ad held the attention of your intended audience, offer an important lever in ensuring every impression delivered—and the carbon required to produce that activity—achieved a meaningful consumer interaction.   

You can start by applying viewability segments to your targeting to ensure your creatives have the best opportunity to impact your intended audience. Next, consider targeting parameters like ad or fold position and player audibility to avoid ad placements less likely to yield ad viewability. When choosing targeting solutions, it is important to consider the value chain of companies supplying the data and how that may impact carbon use versus the carbon reduction achieved by leveraging this data to deliver more targeted ads. Incorporating carbon offset techniques into your media plans is the best option to combat the creep of scope 3 emissions from sources like these targeting partners.  

4. Assess your media operations infrastructure  

At every stage of the media-buying process, your brand, agency or tech partner makes choices that affect the carbon footprint. Every step that requires some contribution of electricity presents an opportunity to increase or reduce your carbon footprint. Digital advertising activities exist mostly electronically, so areas often overlooked include quantity and duration of data and document storage, volume of ad calls, frequency of API calls and any other tasks which contribute significantly to the overall environmental impact of the business.  

Tune your media operations infrastructure to cut the volume of data processed. As an example, consider optimized landing pages with minimal third-party tracking. With applied, intelligent effort, you can achieve the same business objectives with less data processing and a reduced carbon footprint. 

How MediaMath helps you boost your win rate 

In the MediaMath Platform, the Win/Loss report includes your win rate, as well as other measures that shed light on what happens before and during ad auctions. Use this report to identify which of the tactics we discussed above might help increase your win rate, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint from your media buying. 

If you’re interested in additional information on digital advertising’s impact on the environment, download our whitepaper POV: Sustainability in Advertising. Also look out for our third and final post in this series on ways brands can be more sustainable.