Navigating the Nexus of Advertising, Sustainability, and Attention Metrics: Insights from Duration Media's Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy, chief revenue officer at Duration Media, discusses the overlap of digital advertising, sustainability, and attention metrics. Murphy delves into the industry's proactive approach to emissions reduction, the significance of verifiable emissions data for green media solutions, and the link between attention metrics and viewability for more sustainable advertising practices.

Why should marketers care about the intersection of digital advertising and environmental sustainability?

Several research studies came out over the past two years in the US and Europe that presented some surprising data. It turns out the digital marketing industry is responsible for anywhere from 2% to 4% of global greenhouse (GHG) emissions. That’s roughly the same as the commercial aviation industry. So, now that we know there’s a problem, the question is what can we do about it? Well, any good climate action strategy follows three basic principles: measure your GHG emissions first, then reduce as much as possible, and remove what’s left with verified carbon removal projects. Right now, we’re in what’s called a “pre-competitive collaboration” phase where brands, agencies, ad tech platforms, publishers and trade boards are getting together with the goal of creating and implementing an industry standard for measuring emissions in media. And we’ve made some great progress. IAB Tech Lab came out with their Sustainability Playbook in June 2023. Ad Net Zero and GARM published the Sustainability Quick Action Guide. We should have an industry wide standard within the next six months, which is great. But we are only just beginning and there is more work to be done. 

What are marketers doing about it now, before an industry standard is established? 

What’s great about the advertising industry, and ad tech in particular, is that we like innovation. We like to move fast and take action. Several companies have come up with new ways for estimating the environmental impact of media and their solutions are being put to use in advance of an industry standard, which is great. Brands, agencies and ad tech platforms are adopting new solutions to help estimate and quantify the carbon footprint of their media supply chains.

How can marketers identify opportunities for emissions reduction in digital media and advertising?

If we have learned one thing about digital advertising - and programmatic in particular - it’s that there is a lot of waste in the media supply chain. There can be as many as 135 bids for a single programmatic display ad impressions - not to mention all the cookie syncs. Plus, as many as 30% (or more) of digital ads are never viewed by an end user. If marketers can zero in on this waste, truly understand it and find ways to reduce or eliminate it, they can make their advertising work better and lower its carbon footprint. 

How important is it for companies offering green media solutions to actually have a real corporate climate action strategy? 

It’s very important. Any company claiming to have “low carbon” or “green” media solutions that can’t disclose their verified emissions data, isn’t a company that is serious about climate action. Duration Media recently completed its 2022 GHG emissions inventory, measuring the scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions following ISO 14064-1 and the GHG Protocol. The inventory report is currently being reviewed by an accredited 3rd party verifying organisation and will be publicly disclosed with The Climate Registry later this year.  

How does this link to attention, and what's the correlation between attention metrics and eco-friendly advertising?

Attention metrics start with viewability. You can’t drive attention without ads that are in view. Direct deals and PMPs powered by Sequency™ see an average viewability of 86.9%, which is well above industry averages. More viewable ads drive higher attention rates and fewer non-viewable ads means less data waste and lower emissions. 

What are you looking forward to at the ExchangeWireLIVE Attention event?

The ExchangeWireLIVE Attention will spark important conversations about the metrics that matter most to advertisers. If we can better understand how to measure attention and focus on improving attention metrics, we’ll be helping advertisers create more value. If we can drive higher attention metrics, we’ll be making advertising more efficient. More efficient advertising creates less waste. Less waste equals lower emissions.