Audi, Diageo and Others Block High-Carbon Publishers With Scope3's Climate Shield Plug-In for DSPs

In the pilot program, Audi cut 52% of carbon while increasing ad clickthrough rates by 65%

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Sustainability-focused programmatic data consultancy Scope3 has developed a new tool for demand-side platforms looking to find the most sustainable and efficient route to media: Climate Shield.

Released Wednesday, the tech integrates with DSPs to let media buyers block high-carbon publishers, with the aim of lowering the carbon footprint of an entire media buy on the open web. For most DSPs, it’ll live alongside brand safety tools, allowing advertisers to toggle the Climate Shield on and off in a similar manner, according to Scope3 co-founder Brian O’Kelley.

“Ideally, it’s the default for everything,” O’Kelley said. “Like brand safety should be the default.”

Scope3’s tech cuts the highest emitting publishers from the pool of inventory, many of which are “made for advertising” websites that don’t offer much in the way of effectiveness to advertisers anyway, explained O’Kelley. In that sense, it serves as a demand-side solution for carbon reduction in the same way that green PMPs do on the supply side.

Tools like Climate Shield are part of a broader effort in the ad-tech ecosystem to address both carbon emissions and excess intermediaries through supply-path optimization (SPO), demand-path optimization and green private marketplaces. SPO has been gathering pace over the last 18 months, with The Trade Desk debuting its direct-purchasing tool OpenPath, followed by similar efforts from SSPs like Magnite and PubMatic.

Scope3’s efforts have a different focus, though. “We’re not really trying to solve SPO directly,” O’Kelley explained. “We’re trying to avoid climate risk. So sites that are just really bad […] we’re not trying to find the best path to them. We’re just saying take them off your plan because there’s no good path. There’s inventory that we know is crap.”

Still, many of these efforts toward efficiency use similar tools and work toward similar results: fewer “made for advertising” websites and fewer intermediaries between the buyer and seller.

“All the efforts in SPO and DPO certainly help in reducing the number of stops,” Matt Prohaska, CEO and principal of Prohaska Consulting, told Adweek. “It’s just part of a broader move to be able to remove waste fraud fees, and—oh, by the way—carbon usage. We applaud everybody’s efforts in getting us to [net] zero as quickly as possible since we’re all racing against time.”

Decreasing carbon emissions while improving CTR

Scope3 presented the results of a six-month pilot of the tech behind Climate Shield at the World Federation of Advertisers’ Global Marketer Week 2023 in Istanbul at the end of April. It claimed to decrease the carbon footprint of digital advertising for participating advertisers Audi, Diageo, Mastercard, Philips, Reckitt and Sanofi, while at least maintaining ad effectiveness, and in some cases improving business KPIs like clickthrough rates.

To earn and keep [consumer] trust, we must champion sustainability and ethics in everything we do.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard

“It’s important to work with trusted partners to educate us in areas that we want to improve in,” Cheryl Guerin, evp of global brand strategy and innovation at Mastercard, told Adweek via email. “This includes understanding how our marketing programmatic is contributing to the environment and educating ourselves to understand what we can do better.”

Scope3 shared some pilot data from Audi and Sanofi with Adweek, showing that Audi cut 52% of carbon emissions from its digital advertising while using the tool and increasing clickthrough rates by 65%. Sanofi saw its cost-per-acquisition rates decrease threefold amid an increase in video completion rates.

Mastercard is still finalizing its data, while Philips, Diageo and Reckitt are keeping their numbers confidential until further analysis, including how the tech impacts sales numbers, can be completed.

“Conscious consumers have created a demanding marketplace where brand trust is critical to business success,” Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, told Adweek via email. “To earn and keep that trust, we must champion sustainability and ethics in everything we do.”

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