According to some estimates, energy consumption due to the Internet is responsible for 2.3% of global CO2e emissions worldwide. This equals (believe it or not) the total carbon footprint generated by the consumption of aviation fuel worldwide.
Research suggests that an average ad-free web page would load in less than 3 seconds. However, a website with multiple advertisements may take more than nine seconds to download. The extra time taken is the energy directly gobbled up by online advertising.
Admittedly, online advertising formats have only gotten heavier over time. Most web pages have multiple ad formats and using rich graphics, animations and videos will naturally consume more computing power and therefore consume more power than other content. The advertisements take up a small portion of the user’s screen, but involve CPU-intensive computer processes.
Earlier this week, GroupM, the media investment arm of advertising giant WPP, announced it would measure and reduce advertising-related carbon emissions using a new global measurement framework. carbon.
This WPP announcement didn’t come without a lot of shouting. And the debate extends beyond online advertising to cover other areas like fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships. At the Cannes Lions Festival, Greenpeace activists laid siege to the WPP Beach, a networking zone set up by the advertising giant during the festival.
WPP boss Mark Read admitted in a global trade publication that while Greenpeace was right to protest, the holding company would continue to work with energy customers.
In Europe, more than 30 organizations have launched a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), calling for a new law banning fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the European Union. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in a year, the European Commission is legally bound to respond, says former publicist and Greenpeace activist Gustav Martner.
Martner gained global notoriety a month ago at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. On the opening day of this year’s festival, Martner, a former Lions award winner and juror, took to the main stage during the awards night with a sign, “no awards on a dead planet,” a plea worldwide to ban fossil fuel advertising. He was banned from the festival, but the cause was heard loud and clear by everyone who mattered in the world of advertising and marketing.
Globally, industry initiatives like Ad Net Zero are aiming for net zero emissions across the entire cycle from production to ad placement in the UK by 2030. Hopefully the rest of the world will advertising will “warm up” to a similar program.
(This weekly column offers insight into the discussions, debates and soul-searching that goes on in the minds of our writers.)