IAB Europe publishes landmark digital ad GHG mapping report

IAB Europe has published the first-ever mapping of greenhouse gas (GHG) estimation solutions across digital advertising in a bid to support an industry-wide transition to more sustainable operations.

With GHG emissions associated with the internet, devices and supporting systems estimated to account for nearly 4% of global emissions – and an industry-wide mandate to reduce this – digital advertising companies are looking to calculate their own emissions so they can demonstrate the true environmental cost of each digital advertising campaign to their partners.

However, with so many varying tools and solutions coming to the market and no standards in place, stakeholders can get lost in this process.

IAB’s report looks to provide a transparent view of the wide variety of frameworks and solutions developed to estimate and reduce the scope 3 emissions produced by digital advertising. It also explains how they differ and why they may arrive at varying estimates.

Each solution was examined through the lens of features and attributes that IAB Europe members said were most likely to inform decision-making.

Participating organisations include SRI/Alliance Digitale, Dentsu, Scope3, Good-Loop, IMPACT+, and SeenThis, with information on each framework or solution being collected from participating organisations across four months.

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IAB Europe’s Sustainability Standards Committee lead Arthur Millet said: “There is a great deal of momentum in Europe around measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from digital advertising. There is a need for a better understanding of the methodologies and data used to measure the carbon impact of digital advertising.”

“To this end, common methodological approaches are gradually being put in place at national and now global level. Our approach with the IAB Europe is helping to bring greater transparency and genuine cooperation between players to harmonise methodologies and data.”

Key findings from the report included that data availability is seen by vendors as the main challenge to improving the robustness of estimates and that quantitative descriptors of uncertainty are often missing in LCA databases, corporate reports, research, and other data sources, leading many solutions to adopt qualitative data assessments.

IAB Europe’s data analyst and sustainability manager Dimitris Beis, who compiled the report, commented: “It is clear from the report that more work is required to move the industry toward a more sustainable mode of operations.”

“As these solutions are developed further, it is crucial to understand their accuracy, how they can be improved, and how we can use them to drive consistent estimation (of environmental impact).”

“In the meantime, industry professionals should contribute to the transition progress by selecting solutions thoughtfully with the help of this report.”

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