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Supply Path Optimization Gains Critical Ad Community Support


Not long ago, few marketers worried about the sustainability of how ads were bought or sold. Then, in the past decade, as sustainability shifted from an afterthought into a mainstream concern — becoming, for some brands, an imperative — marketers learned that they were burning a high amount of carbon to reach target audiences in a complex digital advertising environment. 

Media buyers want to identify the most carbon-efficient supply paths but sometimes lack transparency from intermediaries or sellers. Despite the convenience of programmatic advertising, the rising number of ad networks and the popularity of ad exchanges, digital ads aren’t always conveyed in the most direct, low-carbon way. For example, supply-side platforms (SSPs) may offer a range of fees and partners without accompanying data about supply-chain carbon emissions.  

Now marketers are evaluating Supply Path Optimization to track and optimize the convoluted routes ads can take to reach them. No brand wants a reputation for creating excess greenhouse gases on behalf of an advertising campaign. Yet, the energy footprint problem is still escalating. Science Direct predicted several years ago that by 2030 we would see a 40x increase in carbon emissions from data processing and network devices.

What can marketers do now to address carbon tracking and reduction efforts in digital advertising?

Hot Atmosphere, Hot Topic

It’s no secret that consumers care about sustainability and those who do prefer brands that share their commitment. A joint McKinsey/ NielsenIQ study found that “78% of US consumers say a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.” This study reports that consumers are shifting their dollars to brands that underscore their commitment to ESG. 

Increasingly, marketers cannot ignore the carbon impact of their advertising campaigns — or hide it from outside stakeholders. The more that advertising shifts to digital channels — digital is currently 72% of worldwide annual media spend — the higher the carbon emissions. Worldwide, the trend is for investors to learn more about how companies manage their environmental challenges. Legislation such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is making sustainability reporting disclosure mandatory. In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to disclose information about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that may be of material interest to investors.

Steps to Track and Reduce Carbon Emissions 

The advertising industry is collectively taking steps to help “decarbonize” the media supply chain. GroupM, the media investment arm of WPP Media, announced it had formed a coalition with 20 leading advertisers six months ago “committed to the establishment of a common approach to measuring ad-based carbon emissions.” Viant supports this type of  initiative, and in February, we announced an integration with Scope3, which provides emissions measurement data that will be available on our platform.  

Also in February, Viant launched Adtricity®, our proprietary carbon impact reduction program to support our clients on their sustainability journey. In effect, the program is a service with three steps:

  • Advertiser signs Viant MSA with an Adtricity® Addendum
  • Media spend with Viant generates clean energy credits 
  • Viant provides earned RECs or Offset credits via a certified partner twice a year to advertisers based on semi-annual spend

To learn more about everything the industry is doing to track and reduce carbon emissions, join Viant CEO and Co-Founder Tim Vanderhook on June 7, 2023, for an earnest discussion with Brian O’Kelly (Scope3), Kieley Taylor (GroupM) and moderator Hillary Slattery (IAB Tech Lab) on supply path optimization. The panel will explore how adtech positions itself for success in sustainable programmatic ecosystems.

Click here to register for the free event.


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