The AdTech Greenscape

In the interest of helping provide clarity and in tribute to Terry Kawaja, I put together a "Greenscape" - a market map for ad tech companies that offer sustainable advertising solutions.

The AdTech Greenscape
"Marketers are finally starting to grasp the scale of the sustainability challenge, particularly the climate crisis. We have reached the point where the status quo is no longer an option. Radical transformation is essential." - Stephan Loerke, CEO, World Federation of Advertisers

At the WFA World Marketer Week in Istanbul last week, I was stunned by the depth of marketer commitment to sustainable advertising. Sustainability (along with DEI) was a primary topic on the main stage at the conference. The updated Global Media Charter makes "Sustainability and Planet" a core pillar. Every CMO and Head of Media that I spoke to was committed to taking concrete and immediate climate action.

With this urgency and commitment from the top, it's time for the industry to take systemic action. Yet there is still confusion about how the pieces fit. Who's doing what? Is optimizing creative enough? Do I need one vendor or many? Should I join a trade association? Will there be an industry standard?

With all of these questions, it's tempting to do nothing and wait for answers. In the midst of a climate crisis, that's the worst decision we can make.

In the interest of helping provide clarity and in tribute to Terry Kawaja, I put together a "Greenscape" - a market map for ad tech companies that offer sustainable advertising solutions.

I have added companies to the Greenscape based on my own knowledge of the market and my own biases (I'm an investor in, advisor to, and on the board of some of these companies, and co-founded Scope3). I'm sure I'm missing companies and have made mistakes! I'll make updates regularly based on:

  • Whether the company has an actual solution in-market, not just a press release
  • What problem the solution addresses
  • Whether the solution is bundled with media
  • How the solution addresses the client's holistic footprint

A huge thank you to all the people that helped me put this together and for the great feedback along the way!

Category Definitions

These categories are an attempt to describe "what does this company do" from a buyer's lens. For instance, if you are running a programmatic media campaign, you might be interested in campaign reporting and campaign optimization. Whether these companies are trading desks or DSPs or custom algorithm providers or verification vendors or media auditors matters - but in this context, they all fit into these two categories.

Creative Production Measurement

Track and measure the carbon footprint of a creative production, generally focusing on the crew, set, materials, travel, and post-production emissions.

Carbon Calculators and Planning Tools

Estimate the carbon footprint of a media plan by channel or media vendor. Ideal for comparing scenarios prior to making buying decisions.

Campaign Carbon Reporting

Measure the carbon footprint of campaigns based on impression-level data. May be real-time or executed post-campaign.

Corporate Carbon Accounting

Use financial and activity data to calculate the carbon footprint of an organization, generally for inclusion in a sustainability or impact report.

Creative Optimization

Minimize the data transfer and CPU usage of a creative.

Campaign Optimization

Optimize the targeting of a campaign to minimize its carbon footprint relative to reach and performance metrics.

Green Media Platforms

Curate and package private marketplaces to minimize their carbon footprint.

Demand Partner Optimization

Optimize distribution of programmatic bid requests to minimize carbon footprint per unit of revenue.

Validated Sustainability Data

Collate public and private sustainability data to create an "apples to apples" dataset aligned to scientific, regulatory, and industry standards.

Advertising Industry Methodology and Standards

Organizations working to create a common methodology and standards for measuring the carbon footprint of advertising-related activities.