Digital Advertising’s Sustainability Imperative: It’s Time for Action

In the fast-paced world of digital advertising, there’s a rapid evolving definition behind “sustainability”. Looking through the environmental lens, one looming challenge that can’t be ignored is the carbon emissions tied to advertising online.  

As the industry continues to grow, so too does its carbon footprint. Sharethroughs’ concerning data from their 2022 study sent shockwaves through the industry as it revealed that the internet alone churns out a whopping 2% of global carbon emissions, putting it on par with the aviation sector. And when you break it down, the carbon emissions from a million ad impressions are as staggering as: 

  • a round-trip flight between Boston and London for one passenger OR   
  • charging 121,000 smartphones OR 
  • producing nearly 2.5M plastic straws  

Here’s the kicker: everyone’s part of the problem. Emissions are linked to the entire value chain from content and ad creation and serving all the way to its consumption on devices which also emit. The ad industry’s infrastructure needs a sustainability make-over and consumers know it. Sharethrough’s research confirmed that 80% of consumers prefer brands that actively reduce their carbon footprint. It’s crystal clear: sustainability is no longer just a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have in the digital advertising game. 

Case Study: Dell’s Sustainable Success  

Using Sharethrough’s GreenPMPs, Dell meticulously measured and offset the entire carbon footprint of one of their campaigns. The result? Dell offset over six million grams of CO2 – that’s enough to power millions of smartphones or heat hundreds of homes for a year. Dell’s campaign featured a green icon to help users learn more about its carbon-neutral approach. And guess what? It paid off – big time. Display Headlines led to a 78% increase in brand awareness, while Dynamic Video Captions boosted message comprehension by 61%. Dell’s campaign demonstrated that sustainability and exceptional advertising results are entirely compatible. Read the full case study here

The Path Forward  

What’s the bottom line? It’s time for the digital advertising industry to step up and take responsibility. With IAB Canada member companies like Sharethrough offering tools and insights that enable real change, there’s little excuse for inaction. By prioritizing sustainable ad formats, transparent partnerships, and measurable emissions tracking, the industry can build a future where advertising innovation respects our planet. 

Join us at Enterprise on April 25, where IAB Canada’s groundbreaking workshop will tackle the burning issues facing our industry head-on. At Enterprise, we’re diving deep into the strategies to strike the perfect balance between sustainability and campaign success. 

Secure your spot now