Advertising Sustainably and Benefitting from Creativity

In association with Nexd.

In this exclusive byline ahead of ATS Singapore 2022, Erik Tammenurm, CEO & co-founder of Nexd, outlines how a renewed focus on creative can help the digital advertising industry in its mission to become more sustainable.

Digital advertising has seen challenges of a massive magnitude almost monthly over the last several years — from GDPR and other privacy regulations, transparency concerns, and cookies dying — and now we have to figure out how to advertise sustainably. An average digital advertising campaign produces around 323 tons of CO2, according to Scope3. That figure equals 160 round trips between Paris and New York, and highlights that the industry must move towards decreasing its environmental impact and providing solutions.

Becoming a sustainable advertiser is a trait everyone should strive towards, and we are seeing it happen. I can imagine that marketers and vendors may be frustrated by how they are having to go about this, feeling like they must solve another problem and that they don’t have the freedom to innovate and improve their essentials. Yet I believe there is a way for marketers to build a better solution that allows them to address the urgent need for climate action and to enhance their strategies – and it centres around creative.

Erik Tammenurm, CEO & co-founder, Nexd

I think that what constitutes creativity is often misinterpreted. Creative advertisements are not more "artsy" images or videos – creativity is the form in which to present a brand and its message. For the last ten years, the majority of advertisers have dedicated their resources to locating the right audiences and tailoring their budgets for different audiences. But according to studies, there are three factors that drive a campaign’s performance — creativity, budget, and audience — and of these three, creativity is cited as the leader. According to Nielsen, creativity accounts for 47% of the total sales impact; if accurate, this means that focusing on a campaign's creativity will, at the least, help improve performance by almost half. Technology can help to convey both better, and in a more interesting and attractive way. 

The strategic benefits are clear, but how does a stronger focus on creative address the need to reduce our industry’s carbon footprint? At present, one of the biggest sources of pollution is the sheer amount of creative being delivered by individual advertisers in order to reach different audience segments. If we can improve the effectiveness of a single creative asset, tailoring it to be fit for diverse audiences, then we immediately cut out the emissions that would have been generated by running alternative campaigns. 

However, regardless of how many creatives any advertisers show to their audience and how many impressions of each are served, all ads have a polluting effect: the whole funnel required to deliver ad campaigns to the end user is powered by thousands of servers, which produces emissions. Therefore, investing more into streamlining the fundamentals of creative will also help our industry lower its carbon footprint – using dynamic creative optimisation to adjust campaigns in flight will reduce waste by cutting out excess impressions from disinterested consumers. Revising the standard size of ads can also help – smaller dimensions require fewer calculations, resulting in lower emissions. Smaller creatives, as well as faster loading times, require less energy from servers, meaning that they will emit less pollution. In short, optimising creative will mean fewer ads are needed to reach audiences, helping advertisers to achieve success whilst reducing their impact on the environment. 

Moving to creative-centric planning is a change of mindset, but there are tools to help and platforms that can help to automate processes and optimise deliveries, despite creative technology receiving less investment than targeting and audience profiling. By focusing on enhancing creative, we can help make our industry more efficient and sustainable.


ATS Singapore 2022 is just one week away, taking place on 21st and 22nd September at Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay. Tickets and further information are available via the ATS Singapore 2022 event hub.