The UN’s commitments to net-zero by 2050 means that emissions must be reduced by 45% in the next 8 years by 2030. With estimates that digital advertising activity accounts for around 3.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the industry has a significant obligation to support with reduction targets. Emissions are generated across all stages of the marketing process, from the creation of the ads to the power needed to serve the ads to our audiences: to provide some perspective, a 1 million-impressions digital ad campaign emits an equivalent amount of carbon as 1 round trip flight from London to Boston for 1 passenger. So how can we work better to both measure and lessen the environmental impact of our media?


Firstly, solutions need to be implemented that reduce impact without an effectiveness trade-off; making cutbacks that compromise campaign performance and miss business objectives are not a feasible option. At dentsu, our work aims to embody the principals of ‘Sanpo Yoshi’: that the solutions we build and the partnerships we make should be good for our business, our clients and good for society. One element of this is Dentsu’s carbon calculator tool, that can support our clients in evaluating the carbon footprint of their media campaigns.  By understanding which media or marketing activities contribute most to carbon outputs, as well as which are most effective at driving performance, future planning and decision-making can be more informed. This is where attention comes in.


Dentsu have been leading the charge in understanding the true impact of attention in media, and across the industry we are increasingly seeing its impact in campaign planning decisions. A study in partnership with Teads found that attention is 3x better at predicting outcomes than viewability.  ‘Attention time’ has been linked to a range of effectiveness signals from awareness and recall, to purchase intent, but an important (and far-less referenced) area where attention can be a strong determinator is sustainability. Leading attention and optimisation company, Playground XYZ, found that attention-led campaigns have the ability to make marketing more sustainable i.e., less wastage means greener advertising. In their recent study alongside data company Scope3, they found that optimising activity to attention time led to a 63% reduction in carbon emissions. The report discusses three key ways that emissions can be reduced:

  • Removal of high carbon emitting domains
  • Removing wasted advertising by optimising towards a minimum level of attention
  • Focusing on domains where advertising aligns to the context e.g. placing a makeup ad within a beauty page


This year, carbon emissions data will feed into Denstu’s proprietary planning tool, CCS, allowing brands to set clear carbon targets and model alternative scenarios for optimal impact, reach and carbon levels. Please get in touch with the Strategy & Planning team to find out more UK-Media-Planning&

If you are interested in learning more about ways how to lessen business impact on the environment, please check out our recent whitepaper on sustainable data strategy. The volume of digital information stored in data centres accounts for 2% of global electricity consumption and this figure is growing. This whitepaper covers the why behind extensive data collection and usage, how a more sustainable strategy can be achieved, and what that looks like in practice.