Réduire l’empreinte carbone des campagnes publicitaires – Étude fifty-five

Reducing the carbon footprint of advertising campaigns – fifty-five study


  • The digital ecosystem is the source of more than 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world with a growth of 6% per year, which is more than global civil air transport.
  • According to estimates of fifty-five as an example, a single digital campaign can generate more than 70 tonnes of CO2eq, or the equivalent of the carbon footprint of around 7 French people for one year.
  • Global warming due to human activity requires all economic players to reduce their carbon footprint. But reality comes up against a major obstacle: the lack of precise and reliable data on the real carbon “cost” of goods and services.
  • Based on this observation, the fifty-five consulting firm offers a pragmatic, iterative and collaborative approach to a study, a calculation methodology and good practices, with the aim of supporting brands in their awareness and their energetic transition.

fifty-five, an international consulting firm specializing in data and martech pillar of The Brandtech Group, announces the publication of a study on the carbon impact of advertising campaigns, with a primary focus on digital. This study as well as the measurement methodology and the best practices to reduce this impact are available in open-source, allowing all players in the martech and adtech sector to participate and take ownership of them.

The genesis of the project: from an individual approach to an industrial challenge
This study constitutes for fifty-five the first iteration of a global and collaborative approach, allowing brands to work together on their digital and energy transformation. fifty-five has chosen transparency by publishing its study with the open-source methodology so that it can be shared and optimized. Ultimately, the objective will be to extend the scope studied to other types of advertising campaigns, in particular TV, Radio, paper, Out-Of-Home, etc. It is also a question of encouraging industry players to advertising to think about options to go further in making data available on the subject, and finally to support them in activating concrete levers to reduce the footprint of their campaigns.

Based on several hypotheses and fictitious digital advertising campaigns drawn from its experience as a consulting company, fifty-five presents here in detail the issues related to the carbon footprint of campaigns, and offers concrete explanations on the best ways to reduction of its negative impact. For this, it relies in particular on pre-existing work and a methodology for calculating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, based on the indicator common to all emission sources, namely the mass of CO2 equivalent (CO2eq).

The difficulty of the estimate lies in the fact of moving from a business indicator to the measurement of “equivalent” CO2, with a fine granularity of data and very diverse sources of emissions in the case of digital advertising campaigns (business trips , production of graphic design, distribution, online viewing, etc.). The objective: to establish clear orders of magnitude on which to rely to deduce ways of significantly reducing emissions. It will then be necessary to decline them according to the context of each advertiser.

The main avenues for reducing C02 emissions: towards reasoned advertising
Based on the fictitious Perfume 2022 digital campaign, detailed in the study and releasing more than 70 tonnes of CO2eq, several ways can reduce these emissions by nearly 50%. This campaign involves in particular the movement of a film crew and their equipment, distribution on digital channels, or even targeting and the bidding system.

  1. Favor reasoned filming would reduce emissions from this campaign by 70%: local filming, recycling of existing content, etc. Any solution that limits the transport of crews and filming equipment is a good idea.
  2. In terms of advertising targetingreducing its target and focusing on the most relevant users de facto reduces unnecessary impressions.
  3. Prioritize broadcasting via Wi-Fi rather than via the mobile network, by setting campaigns to target Wi-Fi users only.
  4. Optimize video content makes it possible to reduce its emissions, in particular by favoring short videos and optimizing their weight.

This is the first iteration of a pragmatic approach intended to be improved and we hope that the next ones will be carried out together with all the players in our sector. This study is part of our conviction that data will tomorrow be the success factor for the energy transformation of companies, just as it is today the key factor for the success of digital transformation. »

Ludovic Moulard, Head of Delivery Management at fifty-five and Shifter (volunteer member of the Shift Project)

The concept of ‘zero carbon’ does not exist: the supply of any good or service actually generates GHG emissions. Beyond ‘carbon neutrality’ – which is in reality only a compensation for a negative action by a positive action – our objective is to raise awareness of our impact in an effective way, and to question the sector on the concept of digital sobriety. »

Pierre Harand, partner at fifty-five

To carry out this study, fifty-five relied on the work of ADEME, the Association Bilan Carbone (ABC), Ecoprod (Carbon’Clap®) and the Shift Project.

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