How Snap and Scope3 Aim to Improve Carbon Measurement for Social Ad Formats

Buyers will be able to compare format efficiency across platforms

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Scope3 is partnering with Snap to expand its carbon emissions measurement into social ad formats, marking the company’s first deal with a social platform and offering more specific measurements beyond estimates.

Over the past six months, Scope3 has worked with Snap to develop ways of measuring the carbon emissions associated with the different types of ads available on Snapchat. Emissions data for those placements is available to agencies and advertisers that subscribe to Scope3’s emissions dashboard starting today (May 13).

“We now have a deep understanding about the emissions of our ad business and have the data required to work with brands to create media plans with carbon reduction in mind,” said Nana Wilberforce, head of sustainability at Snap. “Partnerships with organizations like Scope3, which have invested in building a comprehensive and granular map of carbon emissions across the ad ecosystem, are vital to establishing a sustainable future for digital advertising.”

Honing measurement

The climate impact of social media ads has previously been measured by estimating impact using carbon calculators, explained Scope3 co-founder Brian O’Kelley.

Scope3 lets media planners and strategists model carbon emissions associated with Snapchat ad impressions by ad format based on first- and third-party data including relevant electric grid makeup and the technology used to transmit video or augmented reality filters.

Format-specific data from Snap—which shows the difference in carbon cost between formats like AR filters or skippable video—lets Scope3 clients more accurately model using the emissions dashboard, planning media in a way that is conscious of energy use and carbon emissions.


“If we want to help brands make sustainable choices, they need to know: Is a video worth the carbon?” O’Kelley said. “It may be that the higher carbon footprint is totally worth it, but if we don’t know the difference between a video and a Story, how can you even have that conversation?”

Launched in 2022, Scope3 aims to decarbonize digital advertising and media, offering green media products, a prebid climate risk blocker and custom carbon algorithms. It works with more than 50 brand and agency partners and over 100 adtech partners. Integrating this data into its modeling also lets Scope3 generate more accurate estimates for other social and messaging platforms, like Instagram or TikTok.

LaPresse, SeenThis, TripleLift and Vox are also plugging ad format data into Scope3’s platform, letting media buyers see side-by-side comparisons between formats like Snap’s sponsored lenses, gamified ads on Vox or a mobile product gallery on LaPresse’s application, based on real data, rather than estimations.

A competitive buying landscape

Still, some expressed skepticism. One media buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, argued that lower-carbon ad formats aren’t likely to tip the competitive scales in Snapchat’s direction for advertisers as long as Meta and TikTok continue to dominate in shoppable media.

“While younger generations prioritize environmental concerns, advertisers must balance these values with performance metrics in their social strategies,” they said. It’s unlikely that ecommerce or consumer-packaged-goods brands will abandon Snapchat’s competitors for a “short-term public-relations stunt in response to reactive news.”

Snap wouldn’t share names of advertisers that have committed to using the new social ad format-specific measurement solution, but O’Kelley said there are “a lot” of brands and agencies queued up to use it.

“Advertisers are empowered to make smarter choices when they know the carbon emissions associated with different ad formats,” John Osborn, U.S. director at climate-focused industry group Ad Net Zero, told ADWEEK. “By combining emissions insights with performance insights, advertisers can select ad formats that are the most effective across different company goals—both sales and sustainability.”

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