Study Finds 15 Percent of Ad Spend on High-Carbon, Low-Visibility Websites

Dan Meier 23 November, 2022 

Marketers are wasting around 15 percent of ad spend on “made-for-advertising” websites, according to a new study by Ebiquity and Scope3, causing high volumes of carbon emissions and no real benefit to brands.

The websites in question are said to crowd the screen with ads and low-quality content that tends to be pirated, AI-generated or “just terrible”, in the words of Ebiquity CPO Ruben Schreurs.

While advertisers are not making these placements deliberately, the carbon footprint vastly outpaces return on investment, based on estimations of carbon emissions for 116 billion ad impressions from the last two years.

The study showed the footprint per 1,000 impressions was 52 percent smaller on “trusted” news websites, as verified by the Global Disinformation Index, which gauges the probability of sites publishing false information.

Carbon printing

This latest research continues the dawning realisation for marketers that programmatic advertising carries massive inefficiencies, in terms of wasting both money and greenhouse gases. Companies in the space are developing tools to help brands identify those leakages.

One of those ad tech firms, Good-Loop calculated that a typical online ad campaign emits 5.4 tons of carbon, almost half of a UK consumer’s annual carbon footprint. And 61 percent of brand marketers say they would spend more for increased sustainability, the company found.

By factoring carbon into their media planning and buying, advertisers can benefit not only their brands but the entire digital ecosystem. Ebiquity and Scope3 recommended reallocating investment to low-carbon publishers and high-quality journalism, adding that spending more on trusted websites could encourage publishers to clean up their supply chains.

“If this is not going to be sufficient for advertisers to become serious about reducing waste, then it is hard to see what will,” said Cavai CTO Mikko Kotila.

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