Green Programmatic: Sustainable AdTech Industry

In an age where climate change is no longer a topic up for debate but a dire reality demanding urgent action, environmental sustainability is on everyone’s radar. The need to transition to a greener future is undeniable from consumers to brands, media agencies to investors. And the advertising industry, a heavyweight in the digital realm, is no exception. It must confront its role in emissions production and seek ways to minimize its carbon footprint.

But will the programmatic advertising business dismiss this sustainability trend as a fad, or will it embrace lasting change? This article explores the concept of green programmatic advertising, its importance in creating a more sustainable advertising ecosystem, and ways to implement one. 

Let’s dig in.

The Environmental Impact of Digital Ads

Surprisingly, many consumers remain unaware of how their internet browsing habits and exposure to digital ads contribute to environmental degradation. According to the Purpose Disruptors report, digital ads alone are responsible for a 28% increase in the average consumer’s carbon footprint. Moreover, research has shown that 6 out of 10 consumers know that internet browsing emits carbon waste. 

To put it into perspective, a single ad impression generates roughly 1 gram of carbon waste. The cumulative carbon emissions from internet usage rival those of the aviation industry. Essentially, a single ad campaign delivering one million impressions emits carbon. These staggering figures highlight the need for change.

Interestingly, most consumers are willing to alter their browsing habits, even spending less time online, to reduce their carbon footprint. A remarkable 74% of people are ready to cut down their online time by up to two hours to mitigate their environmental impact.

green programmatic

What is Green Programmatic? 

Green programmatic refers to a more environmentally conscious approach to digital advertising. It involves reducing the number of data requests made in programmatic advertising, which leads to less strain on servers and lowers energy consumption. Importantly, this eco-friendly approach maintains or slightly reduces operational efficiency while significantly reducing the environmental impact of digital advertising.

5 Benefits of Green Programmatic Advertising

The adoption of Green Programmatic Advertising offers a host of benefits:

1. Reduced Waste: Businesses can significantly reduce digital waste by optimizing operations, contributing to a cleaner environment.

2. Lower Energy Consumption: Sustainable practices, such as using lighter files for creatives, reduce energy consumption, and lower carbon emissions.

3. Enhanced Targeting Precision: Data-driven targeting not only lowers emissions but also enhances the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

4. Good Publicity: Green initiatives can improve a brand’s public image and reputation, drawing positive attention from consumers and stakeholders. Aligning with eco-friendly values can instill trust and loyalty among environmentally conscious consumers.

5. Cost Savings: Reducing carbon emissions can also lead to cost savings through optimized processes and better-managed ad campaign budgets due to the proper targeting. 

Reducing Carbon Footprint in Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising and AdTech have a significant role in reducing carbon emissions. The key lies in adopting sustainable practices that benefit the planet and improve business operations.

To follow the principles of green programmatic advertising, publishers have a variety of solutions at their disposal to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability. 

1. Reduction of Redundant Prebid Calls

One major contributor to carbon emissions in the programmatic ecosystem is the high volume of bid requests exchanged between Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) and Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs). This results in excessive service resource consumption, high traffic costs, and a considerable carbon footprint.

To address this issue, DSPs impose caps on bid requests. In response, exchanges, and bid syndicators employ traffic shaping techniques to limit the number of requests issued to DSPs. 

Another solution is proposed by Prebid Stack, a prebid management dashboard. One of its most important features is that it reduces unnecessary prebid calls.

Usually, requests are sent from all our ad units to every SSP, and this was not very efficient and added to our environmental footprint. With Prebid Stack, publishers can choose features such as auction per ad unit and lazy auction to ensure the auction is called at the right moment. Moreover, it works on a feature called “bid throttling,” which automatically reduces bids from SSPs that don’t meet specific criteria, such as not meeting the floor price or taking too long to respond. 

2. Recycling Inventory

Recycling inventory involves delivering ads only to those who require them. It means loading ads or content when they are in the viewport, reducing unnecessary computations, and ultimately saving energy and carbon emissions.

But there’s also a second meaning, which is about to use the unfilled impressions once again. With Unfilled Recovery, publishers can benefit from eco-friendly campaigns by recycling the inventory. When the request becomes unfilled, the technological cost of calling the auction is wasted. The solution ensures that it is recovered and the ad is shown. The thing is, it’s not the same ad slot, but automatically generated identical to the original, new one.

3. Data-Driven Targeting

Sustainable programmatic advertising also emphasizes data-driven targeting. This approach not only considers audience data but also factors such as website characteristics and campaign size. It ensures that ads are delivered to those most likely to engage with them, reducing both carbon emissions and user irritation.

According to The Carbon Footprint For Media Campaigns report, the carbon footprint for target calculation is <100 kg of CO2eq. 

4. Smart Selection of Technology Partners 

Collaborating with vendors is also a key step in the green programmatic journey. Publishers can collaborate with vendors whose servers are powered by renewable energy, use file-size compression techniques, and measure and offset their carbon impact. This collective effort can help reduce the overall carbon footprint of the digital advertising supply chain.

Publishers can also choose green agencies and platforms that prioritize carbon dioxide emission reduction and engage in activities supporting environmental protection. 

Choose Green Programmatic 

The adoption of green programmatic advertising is on the rise, driven by the urgent need for a sustainable digital marketing landscape. While challenges like industry resistance and initial implementation costs exist, the benefits outweigh the obstacles. It’s time for the AdTech industry to step up and prioritize sustainable practices that not only reduce carbon emissions but also lead to enhanced business performance and a healthier planet. The future of advertising lies in sustainability, and it’s a future we must embrace now.

If you’re interested in green programmatic solutions, contact us. We would love to explain in more detail how it’s applied in the Yieldbird Platform.  

Bartłomiej Oprządek

Bartłomiej Oprządek

Regional Growth Director

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