Green IO
#30 - Can Digital Marketing be low-carbon? with Audrey Danthony and Diarmuid Gill
December 19, 2023
0.9g of CO2e. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. According, the French SRI association this is the carbon footprint for a 10K prints digital campaign with a 200k image. So not a big deal? Not that simple because we’re talking about volumes in trillions per day here. So maybe it’s a good idea to dive a little deeper on the environmental impact of digital marketing after all. Hence we brought 2 experts in AdTech with a soft spot for Sustainability: Diarmuid Gill is Criteo’s CTO since 2019 and has been in Digital Advertising for more than 15 years. Audrey Danthony has also a long career in AdTech, she started her first company, Oxeva, during the dot-com boom when she was still a student at engineering school. And 2 years ago she pivoted and founded with 2 partners Impact+ with the aim of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions in digital advertising. ❤️ Subscribe, follow, like, ... stay connected the way you want to never miss an episode! 📧 Once a month, we deliver carefully curated news on digital sustainability packed with exclusive Green IO contents in your mailbox, subscribe to the Green IO newsletter here.
0.9g of CO2e. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. According, the French SRI association this is the carbon footprint for a 10K prints digital campaign with a 200k image. So not a big deal? 
Not that simple because we’re talking about volumes in trillions per day here. So maybe it’s a good idea to dive a little deeper on the environmental impact of digital marketing after all. 
Hence we brought 2 experts in AdTech with a soft spot for Sustainability: Diarmuid Gill is Criteo’s CTO since 2019 and has been in Digital Advertising for more than 15 years. Audrey Danthony has also a long career in AdTech, she started her first company, Oxeva, during the dot-com boom when she was still a student at engineering school. And 2 years ago she pivoted and founded with 2 partners Impact+ with the aim of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions in digital advertising. 

Learn more about our guests and connect: 

📧 You can also send us an email at to share your feedback and suggest future guests or topics. 

Audrey's and Giarmuid's sources and other references mentioned in this episode:


[00:00:00] Gaël: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Green IO, the podcast for responsible technologists, building a greener digital world, one byte at a time. Our guests from across the globe share insights, tools and alternative approaches, enabling people within the tech sector and beyond to boost digital sustainability. And before we start, I would like to thank the hundreds of Green IO listeners who joined the first Green IO conference in Paris on December the 8th.

[00:00:29] Gaël: It was great to see so many of you and the discussions covered a wide range of topics, as well as the feedback shared. Get ready for more conferences in 2024 because we will come back to Paris in December, but we will also launch our first Green IO London conference September 17th and 18th, and we might have one in Singapore as well if we have enough traction there. Ping me if you're interested to talk or to partner in any of these three conferences.

[00:00:58] Gaël: 0. 9 grams of CO2 equivalent. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it, and that was a result I got after playing with a calculator based on the French SRI association methodology for a 10k prints digital campaign with a 200k image. 0.8 actually with a French energy mix which is quite low carbon, so not a big deal, I guess?

[00:01:24] Gaël: But not that simple. Because we're talking about volumes in trillions per day here. Moreover, in the past couple of years, several solutions have appeared on the market to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from digital media companies, like Scope 3, the Dimpact framework, and Impact Plus solution, to name just a few.

[00:01:46] Gaël: And the potential savings in GHG emissions they promote are significant. So maybe it's a good idea after all, to dive a little deeper on the environmental impact of digital marketing. Hence, I decided to bring two experts in from tech with a soft spot for sustainability to enlighten us. Diarmuid Gill is Criteo's CTO since 2019 and has been in digital advertising for more than fifteen years. He even worked at AOL, remember?! And today at Criteo, he is in charge of serving more than, I guess, five billion, so quite a tech stack behind it and some carbon emissions involved.

[00:02:30] Gaël: Audrey also has a long career in IT. She started her first company Oxeva during the boom when she was still a student at engineering school. And two years ago she piloted and founded, with two partners, Impact +, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions of digital advertising. They already have several global brands as clients, starting with L’Oréal or Heineken.

[00:02:54] Gaël: And for the record, Audrey used to live in the Reunion Island where we met, and we have had multiple occasions of discussing life cycle analysis, the subtlety of brand campaign versus reach campaign and so much more. So welcome Audrey and Diarmuid, thanks a lot for joining Green IO today.

[00:03:12] Audrey: Thank you, pleasure to meet Diarmuid and Gaël today.

[00:03:15] Diarmuid: Thank you very much Gaël, pleasure to be on [the show].

[00:03:18] Diarmuid: The pleasure is mine. So, before we deep dive in how to measure, how to reduce, what is the momentum in our digital marketing industry, how can carbon emissions be measured from digital advertising, and why does it matter? Maybe Audrey you want to share some thoughts on it?

[00:03:39] Audrey: Yes, with pleasure. So as with any product and service, it's perhaps more convenient to speak about evaluation than measurements, because everything we evaluate about these impacts are based on models, and most of them are based on the principle of life cycle assessments methodologies. So when it comes to evaluating the impacts of digital services, the idea is to take into account three tiers. The first one is about the servers which are used to deliver an ad. The second tier is the devices, the end user devices, used by the end user, the client itself who will see the ad. And the third tier are the networks which are used to deliver the ad through the servers to the end user.

[00:04:36] Audrey: A lot of digital services tend to focus on only the impact of the servers themselves, but it's really important to take in account these end user devices because according to a Green IT report, more than 40 of these impacts are due to the mining, the manufacturing, the transportation of the servers, the routers, but also the end user devices.

[00:05:00] Audrey: So that's a very huge part of this. But when it comes to evaluating all these impacts, we take in account not only this life cycle part, meaning the manufacturing of the devices, but also the carbon emissions due to the electricity used by the servers, networks, and end user devices. The idea is to evaluate this electricity consumption and combine this with what is named the carbon intensity of electricity.

[00:05:32] Audrey: It's how much emissions are due to the production of one kilowatt of electricity. And this can depend on the electricity grid of a single country meaning that in France, it's low because of the nuclear plants that are used in our country, but in other countries that could be much higher, because, for example, in Asia, a big part of the electricity can be produced with coal plants.

[00:05:58] Gaël: And what about digital advertising itself? Can you share with us an order of magnitude? How many tons are we talking about?

[00:06:07] Audrey: So, what you must take into account and what you have already mentioned is that it's a question of volumes. The global digital ad spends is a market of about 700 billion dollars per year.

[00:06:23] Audrey: This represents trillions of ads delivered every day. This also represents something like 70 percent of the total advertising investment in the world. Digital advertising has been evaluated as much as 60 million round trips from London to New York by plane. And that's the total, the same total emissions of a country like Ireland. So that's a huge volume of emissions.

[00:06:57] Gaël: And just to keep on understanding the landscape Iwould say, before deep diving on more concrete solutions, who are you talking to ? Diarmuid, same question for you. Actually, maybe Diarmuid first, because I’m very happy to have a CTO around the table to discuss this, but I had a conception, which is maybe a misconception, that this topic was mostly followed by chief marketing officer or chief sustainability officer, and that was not that much a tech or product led topic. So, who are you folks mostly talking to when you're discussing this carbon footprint of digital advertising?

[00:07:43] Diarmuid: Okay, well starting from the point of view of Criteo and from my perspective, I've been CTO since 2020, and people who I talk to most about sustainability are actually employees.

[00:07:57] Diarmuid: We have our ESG groups internally known as Criteo Cares and one of our communities is the green community. It's all about reducing the impact of our business on the environment and really, you know, with some internal colleagues who have been really putting this to the forefront. They're a very intelligent, very well-educated workforce, and they're very aware of some of the negative impacts of advertising and digital marketing on the ecosystem. And so that's primarily the first kind of cohort, I would say, you know, people who are very, very concerned, and they do this in their daily lives and they want to make sure their professional lives follow the same kind of set of values.

[00:08:45] Diarmuid: Secondly, it would be the leadership in general. This is something that's very important for a company like ours that we're seen to be doing the right thing and that we are actually doing the right thing. And it's part of our global CSR report. We've been reporting on these metrics every year. The last one was April of this year. So, showing exactly where we are and giving details on what steps we're taking to improve. The board of the company as well is something [important], they ask quite a lot about this and are very interested in our hosting strategy and what we're doing to reduce the impact.

[00:09:21] Diarmuid: And then externally, more and more, we're starting to see our clients who are asking, as part of your RFP process, to want to know that we're doing, you know, what efforts we're doing on this, as well as our partners, all of our ecosystem supply chain partners and so on. And this is something that I haven't actually measured, but you can see year over year, the number of people who ask us what we're doing in this area is increasing both internally and externally.

[00:09:52] Gaël: So, you're kind of blessed, because you've got the beautiful alignment of all the planets. Usually, when I meet colleagues, clients, etc., you don't have this strong alignment from the colleagues to the board, but maybe it's due to the very nature of your activity. And Audrey for instance, the people you interact with, when we discussed, obviously you put on the table and you did a bit of name-dropping. That's a fair game to play, talking about L'Oréal or Heineken, but are they representative of your clients? And who is investing time and energy to decarbonize digital marketing? Is it mostly pushed by big brands, big corporations, or actually is it another misconception of mine? And you've got also, you, medium sized companies, even small PR agencies.

[00:10:40] Audrey: Yeah, I would say that it's not dependent on the size of the company at all. We work at Impact + with a lot of different types of companies that could be very small and local and network or at tech that would be global companies, such as the ones you mentioned previously.

[00:10:59] Audrey: Actually, a recent report by the IAB Europe, said that sustainability is one of the top three challenges for digital advertising, and that includes advertisers, agencies, technology providers, high tech, and so on. I think that now everyone, every company, is concerned about this, basically because of the consumer themselves.

[00:11:28] Audrey: Another report mentioned that 77 percent of people globally say that in five years, they will only want to be spending money with brands who practise green and sustainable advertising. So that's huge. And that's driven by the consumer itself first, but companies are also under pressures from their investors, and from regulation.

[00:11:54] Diarmuid: We've seen more and more companies who invest in companies like Criteo. So Criteo is a publicly listed company for 10 years. And there are a lot of funds which now have a policy that they will only invest in sustainable funds, companies who meet certain criteria. It's really important, for us, in terms of ensuring that we're looking after our shareholders as well, that we make ourselves eligible for those.

[00:12:22] Diarmuid: And that's actually, you know, one of my team, Guillaume, had made me aware of this years ago, where he talked about from his own perspective, every time he has some money to invest, he always makes sure he only ever invests in sustainable funds. And so you get something where you get the nice synergy between something that is good for the environment that looks good, but that actually is good.

[00:12:47] Diarmuid: And so it's really encouraging good behavior, from the perspective of the company. Then it gets back to the point you raised, which is, you know, how do you qualify for this? And so how do you make sure that you're able to do all of them, you know, kind of hit the right targets. It goes back to some of the points that Audrey raised about, kind of measuring your exact impact on the environment.

[00:13:13] Gaël: Well, it's a deep dive in one or two concrete case studies. Let's imagine that I'm a CMO, a chief marketing officer, and I'm getting really concerned about greenhouse gases. What can I expect? Let's start maybe with Impact+,what can I expect? Why should I knock at your door and what will be the step-by-step project that I should follow to get the answers I'm looking for?

[00:13:45] Audrey: So first, what you can put in place is to evaluate a baseline of your total greenhouse gas emissions due to digital advertising. The idea is to evaluate as many campaigns that you can in order to know what your current status is about greenhouse gas emissions. And then you can put in place very simple levers to begin very rapidly to reduce this impact.

[00:14:17] Audrey: Basically, you can work on your creatives, perhaps limit the duration of the video that you will transfer and that you will deliver to users. You can work with your creative agencies to optimize the images that would be shown to use the users, that's on a creative part. You can decide to deliver more ads on smaller screens to reduce the electricity consumption due to the delivery of the ad on TVs, for example.

[00:14:51] Audrey: And you can begin to test. So, maybe test it on your campaigns, verify that these reduction levers have no impact on your media KPIs, because as a marketer, that's your main KPIs. So efficiency, like the video viewed by the user, the viewability, the click-through rates, the transformation rates every, advertising, KPIs that you normally have a look at when you deliver it.

[00:15:21] Audrey: And then after having validated that these levers have no impact on your media efficiency, you can then put in place a plan to deploy these actions on every single campaign that you deliver. And this process, we put this in place with many advertisers, and so now, from the first step that they did, starting in France, they began to evaluate one or two campaigns And now they are deploying this reduction lever at scale in more than 20 countries. And perhaps in more than 40 countries next year. The idea is to set a baseline, test, learn, and deploy at scale. That would be the steps that I would recommend to any marketer.

[00:16:08] Gaël: So those three steps beautifully explained :create the baseline, test and then deploy scale, for all your campaigns. Maybe we should unpack the three steps one by one . So the baseline - how do you calculate the baseline? What are both the ingredients but also the hypothesis ? For instance, do you account for embedded carbon? If so for servers, for digital devices. What are the assumptions regarding energy consumption? Are you only focusing on carbon? Could you tell us a bit more? And do we have in this area a commonly agreed methodology so far to measure a digital advertising footprint?

[00:16:57] Audrey: No, not yet. About the methodology, there is a methodology and standards framework actually, that has been built by the IAB France and SRI, so the Alliance Digital and SRI in France. A few years ago now, I think that the first version has been launched in 2021, and this is currently in evaluation and validation from a lot of other sustainability groups in our industry, meaning IAB Europe; the WFA said the organizations that represent the global advertisers are also evaluating and comparing many methodologies these days. So for the moment, there is no global evaluation framework that has been deployed at scale, but we hope that this will happen.

[00:17:56] Audrey: Our recommendation to marketers and that tech is not to wait for this () because the first discussions have begun in 2020 it's now three years ago) to begin to act. We need to act rapidly and there are some proxy information KPI s that could be used to reduce the impacts , that could limit the volume of data which are transferred, it could be using greener electricity for your servers, it could be planning your campaigns in a different way so that you use greener electricity, actually, depending on the day of the week or the hour in the day. There are multiple things that you can do without waiting for a global framework to be adopted at scale.

[00:19:00] Diarmuid: Yeah, it's actually very bewildering the amount of different ways to measure and the different approaches that you can take. And so my hope would be at some point that some standards body like the ISO or maybe pushed by the W3C will be able to come up with a standard that you can actually measure. Because one of the problems is with all of this data, depending on your perspective, you could see two different measurements, which are saying exactly the same thing, but, you know, kind of that are almost impossible to compare. And so I think that's something that's really, really important.

[00:19:41] Diarmuid: To Audrey's point, I don't think we should wait. I think we already have enough information within each individual company to know what it is we do today. So obviously we need to increase the rigor in which we approach all of this, and not just to look at single metrics.

[00:19:59] Diarmuid: So Audrey talked about some of the really important things specifically around ad serving. So reducing the payload, reducing the complexity, reducing the duration and stuff like that. And all of those are good, but they're somewhat only the tip of the iceberg with respect to what happens in the overall kind of creation of an advertisement.

[00:20:19] Diarmuid: So, you know, in a company like Criteo, we collect a lot of data on a daily basis, which we use to make the decisions on which advertisements to send. And so we do machine learning. So that obviously requires a lot of processing. And so at each step it's really important that we as a company are optimizing as much as we can to try and reduce that now that is a double benefit in terms of, from my perspective as a CTO , that being efficient reduces costs , being efficient increases our efficiency or how we serve our clients and doing all of that actually reduces our carbon footprint . So it's like a win-win, but at each step, taking into account, you mentioned about the carbon footprint of the machines themselves, so the frequency at which we renew our servers is something we have to take into account.

[00:21:16] Diarmuid: And so, at some point, to be able to come up with a measurable concrete figure that we can publish, that we can show to our clients, and then at some point, probably through regulation, but, maybe it won't even need that, that every company engaged in digital advertisement will actually publish their carbon footprint as a result of this, so, you know, it's not just the advertising industry itself, but all of the companies who advertise online. It would be really great if you went on some of the big brand advertisers that we all know, and we could actually see exactly, you know, how they're advertising changes from year after year, and we could see the efforts that they're making through their whole supply chain to reduce their impact.

[00:22:00] Gaël: And that's super interesting, because with you we can see under the hood. Do you have the top one, top two or top three, in your own experience, what were the most effective ways to achieve efficiency?

[00:22:16] Gaël: So one of the things that happens with software development is you develop features organically over time. So you know, you start with a simple application and you extend you extend you extend and it's a little bit like if you built a house and then you kept adding extensions to it. After a period of time, you realize that you've got this kind of crow's nest of the coupling of dependencies and so on. And every once in a while, you need to kind of go back and do some spring cleaning. And so what we found was we had lots of things with redundant code, or inefficient code, or duplicate code.

[00:22:53] Gaël: And so going back and taking the time to refactor, to re-architect, and sometimes to actually redesign, really generated a lot of benefit. Now the challenge that we would have, and every software development company would have, is that you get pressure from the business to continually add new features, because new features means you can provide more value to clients to get more revenue and so on.

[00:23:18] Gaël: Whereas, you know, refactoring the code very often you're looking at just a cost efficiency. And so it's really making the case. So me, as a CTO, I need to work with my partners in the product organization and in our commercial organization and say, I need to keep a certain bandwidth of my team's available time to be able to work on improving our code, right. So it's having that constant looking-at, so that we don't let the code get so bad that it becomes inefficient, that it becomes slow and that it's generating costs. It also helps with respect to employee morale. People don't like working with old legacy crappy code. So that also helps as well.

[00:24:03] Gaël: So we're trying to incentivize good behavior whilst at the same time trying to show to the business the benefits of spending time on this versus just adding feature after feature after feature.

[00:24:16] Gaël: So if i'm one of your customer , either Citeo or at Impact + customer, do you have today, we said, all the knowledge you've gathered, the ability to tell me, okay, if you want to run a one million targeted people campaign video based, something like ten seconds etc., if you run it that way, you will use that many servers, that we will consume that much energy, and eventually that will emit that much greenhouse gas and play a bit with a different scenarii, or is it a bit too much science fiction?

[00:24:53] Diarmuid: So I would say we're not there yet, and part of it goes back to what Audrey talked about in terms of not having an established framework, because, you know within the ecosystem, clients often will compare us to other people in the ad tech space. And so my answer would be, it depends on what you choose to measure. And so if it's purely just related to the serving of the ad, well then that's how many bits and bytes you're sending over the pipe and the impact that it has on our servers, on their website, on the devices of the end user.

[00:25:29] Diarmuid: But then there's the question of, do you take into account the embedded carbon of the machine itself. And do you take into account the amount of energy that we use on a daily basis and so on. So I think part of that really depends on going back to where we talked about, which is having like an industry standard.

[00:25:48] Diarmuid: So that if they come to a company like Criteo and they compare us with the alternative options, that they're able to have a concrete measure where they can see who's doing better than the others and that they can rely on those numbers.

[00:26:02] Audrey: About the way the ads are delivered from servers to servers, a lot of the ads also, not, not the biggest part because the biggest part of digital advertising is still delivered through social platforms and video, video ads on the media part. Part of the digital advertising ecosystem is built on what is named programmatic advertising, meaning that there are a lot of different players through the supply chain between the publisher who will deliver the ad to the user and the advertiser who is buying the ad. And there are many different technical systems named DSPs or SSPs ad-exchange in this supply chain. And so that's difficult from an advertiser's point of view and even from the publisher point of view to know who is involved. In this supply chain, it's not fully transparent and it's not at all transparent, actually, for most of these people, the advertiser, the publisher, and so this non transparency of the supply chain makes it very difficult to understand who is involved and how much data is also transferred from the advertiser to the publisher. And this leads to difficulties in evaluating the whole impact of a digital ad. And that's one of the biggest problems of our industry.

[00:27:32] Gaël: But your tools provide dashboards, and I’ve seen them where you say, okay this campaign has admitted that much etc., but what are the shortcuts that you have to take in order to provide numbers that will be consistent and coherent?

[00:27:46] Audrey: So, let's say all the evaluation services are based on the same kind of modeling of this supply chain. Including a number of intermediaries, including a number of connections, for example, between the website and the different SSPs or DSPs. And these are all based on models, and that's why also I'm pushing to use evaluation, instead of measurements. It's because nobody has the full view of this. Every single evaluation tool is relying on data declared from parts of the supply chain, but don't have the full view of that. And so we use this evaluation to show that for a given ad, there should be more intermediaries because we know it, as an average, but for a single impression, that's a bit more complicated to know.

[00:28:45] Audrey: And for sure, no one from a brand perspective or from the publisher perspective has a full view of this, especially on the number of servers that has been involved as, Diarmuid can have on his company level data, but on the client side and the seller side, we don't have this full transparency of how many resources have been used.

[00:29:11] Audrey: Do you manage to incorporate somehow the embedded carbon from the professional equipment involved, like server or router, or is it something too blurry? No? Yeah, you manage?

[00:29:24] Audrey: Yeah, there is some data that has been published by the ADEME and a consortium named NegaOctet, which has been also published by the ADEME, actually. And that's a great resource to understand how much embodied emissions you can have on the device, the end user device, the servers and the networks.

[00:29:52] Gaël: And what about the very tricky question of end user devices? Do you take into consideration some estimation of the energy during the use phase? Do you take a chunk of the overall embedded carbon? That's almost a philosophical question within the industry. I mean, the digital industry.

[00:30:11] Audrey: We integrate both the embodied emissions and the electricity consumption of the user data. So that's for the evaluation itself, meaning that when we speak to an advertiser or to a tech, we must show everyone. A big part of the emissions are still on the embodied emissions on the device side, and this has an importance because, for example, on the AdTech side, you can work on your SDK to lower the amount of resources that would be used on your individual devices, limiting the number of end user renewal.

[00:30:46] Audrey: So this is important to explain to everyone that a big part of this of these greenhouse gas emissions are due to the embodied emissions. But when it comes to the reduction, then we focus our clients on reducing the electricity consumption itself, because we think that any level of optimization that you can put in place actually won't have any real impact on the embodied emission, meaning that if you decide to target smartphone instead of TV, we assume that it has no impact on the renewal on the TV or on the smartphone itself. So, yes, we take both but not in the same use case.

[00:31:30] Gaël: And just wrapping up what both of you said if i understood right, the top three things that if i were absolute beginner in the digital marketing area would be pay attention to the size of your content like video vs image vs text etc., (not necessarily in the right order), pay attention to on which device it will be delivered, make it compatible for smartphone rather than big screen etc., because of the embedded carbon footprint, and the third one would be make sure that when you deliver whatever it is world-wide, do you manage to do some carbon awareness that it's when the grid is - and I'm sorry to use this ugly word because very misleading - but the cleanest possible, I would say, or I should say the proper word, which is the lowest carbon possible. Are these the three main levers or am I missing some very serious one as well?

[00:32:29] Diarmuid: I would add a few more around that. So, one of the things Audrey mentioned was around the number of different partners or the number of different players who get involved in the chain. So, there's a thing called supply path optimization, where you have to remember everyone who gets involved is a commercial company.

[00:32:50] Diarmuid: And so, going back to the FinOps point of view, every one of those is somehow taking what's called the digital tax. And they're adding to the cost somewhere. They're taking value out of the system. So the minimum number of loops or connections that you have, actually helps increase the efficiency of your spend.

[00:33:10] Diarmuid: So, if you come at it from a financial perspective, you're actually kind of making the overall end to end much more efficient, which will reduce the number of servers, which will reduce the overall impact.

[00:33:23] Gaël: This really resonates. I should hopefully not forget about it, because that's something that surprised me.

[00:33:29] Gaël: I guess you both of you, you're familiar with a study that was published by 55 and, the two main leaders are also Shift project members, and what surprised me is that the number of layers has a huge impact actually on the overall carbon footprint and we tend, as Audrey, you mentioned, and I should have remembered that it was pretty impressive, how adding an extra layer, it's not exponential, but adding an extra layer brings some extra kilos of CO2 each time.

[00:34:03] Audrey: Actually, what you mentioned at the very beginning of your question are simple levers, but that's not something that should be done without testing. And also, you should always link these levers to the right KPI to be evaluated. And so, this is important as a brand or publisher. When you deliver an ad, you are aware of what you try to achieve in terms of KPIs, meaning that there are some clients, sometimes some brands, who are still buying video ads to drive clicks. And so, this leads to volume of impressions of videos that are huge and they don't drive any clicks at the end. And this is a total loss of energy. There are also numbers, huge numbers of ads, which are still not viewable, meaning that when you buy an ad, this is not viewed by the end user, but this is delivered.

[00:35:04] Audrey: And so, there are places where they have a lot of waste actually. And you buy ads that don't achieve your objective. So, this is important to use the right KPI to evaluate, not to link greenhouse emission s to one single impression of ads, because you can have ads which are videos, but which are actually at a high price, so for the same budget we will deliver less video than small ads, which are perhaps less impactful for a single impression. But at the end you will, for the same budget, you will buy 10 times or 100 times more than videos. And so, you should also be aware of any kind of rebound effects that can happen when you do an optimization. And you mentioned, Gaël, at the very beginning, saying, yeah, you can target smaller screens. When you target a smaller screen, you can also have users with 5G connection. Which is actually more electricity intensive than WiFi that you would have used on a bigger screen. And so, this is important, to evaluate the combinations of devices, networks, servers, and also combining this with your campaign KPIs to see which kind of ads, which player, which company, which offer, would be the most efficient for you, in a given context. And then with this evaluation, you can select and push more on this given format in this company because that's more efficient for your KPIs i

[00:37:03] Gaël: Yeah, I really like your approach that you should interconnect business KPIs and environmental KPIs to make sure that you don't go at ninety degrees. Yeah it makes total sense.

[00:37:17] Gaël: You were mentioning at the very beginning of the episode IAB effort, SRI effort, that slowly, and very slowly, but hopefully, surely, we might reach some kind of agreement among the industry. So, you were mentioning Europe and the French from SRI, I know that the Germans, they're pretty active on this topic too, but I want to ask the very impolite question: what about the Americans? Because if they don't move and if there is not a standard endorsed by the Americans in digital marketing, nothing will happen. So, could you tell us a bit more about it?

[00:37:59] Audrey: So, the IAB Tech lab, which is part of the IAB US, was also launched at the beginning of this year. I think he's on the sustainability group. So, I think, I think that Europe is still more in advance than the U. S. for the moment on the ad tech part, but the WFA, so the global organization representing the advertisers, has also launched a group last year, I think, the WFA GARM, which is currently evaluating the different frameworks that already exist on the market and to see which one, they would take in account in their global online plus offline advertising evaluation framework.

[00:38:55] Audrey: So that begins to move from the advertiser perspective. And if the advertisers. are moving, then the whole supply chain will move much faster.

[00:39:08] Gaël: And Audrey, that's interesting that you mentioned the entire supply chain because I've got two more philosophical questions before closing the podcast. And the first one being what I call the, - I think I will write something about it in 2024- the digital sustainability curse. And we are cursed because our footprint is super huge but super dispersed and so it's diluted across every sector, every company, every household. And eventually we always assert a force in the ranking of top greenhouse gases being emitted you know. Look even at Netflix okay - and that's the same story for many big tech companies - but look at Netflix. It is believed that at peak time in the US they consume more than 30 percent of the entire US internet bandwidth. That's just an amazing number. And yet, quoting here, Emma Stewart on my climate journey, the Netflix chief sustainability officer, she basically told everyone that more than 80 percent of Netflix footprint is emitted by content creation. And the same goes in advertising. You know, you do a shooting and you need to move a team by plane, and voilà, a high percent of your campaign footprint is in the making, rather than in the distribution, and until now we talked mostly about the distribution and yet, you know, still very important and we know that gathering all this little streams all this little rivers and it will make big flows at the end , of carbon being emitted in the atmosphere so do you face this opinion or this kind of rational decision from well-intentioned people saying, 'Hey, you know, okay, I got it. I got it about digital marketing and your campaign, our campaign even being a bit dirty, but let's focus first on content creation, etc.' And what do you answer, when you face this kind of, what I would call, false arbitrage; are you cursed?

[00:41:19] Diarmuid: I would say, so far, we haven't faced it that much. I think we're at the start of the curve in terms of where awareness is just beginning to rise, and people are starting to ask the questions. So, for example, the statistic that you just raised, I was totally unaware of that. You know, I was thinking about the increase in online video and consumption, but I never thought about the carbon footprint put into the creation of that content.

[00:41:48] Diarmuid: It's similar in advertising technology. I think people are only starting to ask the questions. And then when they get the first part - so we talked about the cost of serving an ad - but that's actually much, much more behind it, you know, involving the creation, the production, all of the calculations that go behind.

[00:42:08] Diarmuid: And so as we start digging deeper into this, the subject, then we're going to ask more and more deeper questions, more comprehensive overview of the end-to-end. And at that point, hopefully we can get as an industry to some more concrete and standard measurements, so we can compare like with like.

[00:42:27] Diarmuid: I would say we're not there yet. I think we're only starting on that conversation and it'll probably take some time to come up with some kind of standard metric that we can all compare.

[00:42:40] Audrey: I think that for the hi-tech site, so the seller site, most of the CSR team have understood that they need to clean up their own room, meaning that they are not involved in the production side of the advertising, they only receive the creatives that has been done, and so they need to work on their own technology, not to focus too much on what the advertiser s have done on the production side.

[00:43:11] Audrey: On the brand side, let's say, this has already been a discussion, on the production companies, meaning that the clients are also pushing the production company to reduce their waste, work on their emissions, limit the number of flights to build the ads and so on. And this has been pushed through many discussions that already have happened in the past.

[00:43:44] Audrey: So that's already addressed. And these are different people in brands that are involved in producing the creatives and buying the ads. So they are both involved by the CSR team to reduce as much as they can on their own scope, meaning that the media teams, media buying teams are involved, the creative teams, are more involved and every time they are issuing a RFP, a request for proposal, they include their sustainability requirements, or at least sustainability information.

[00:44:29] Audrey: This is now in the process and everyone is focusing on his own business. So that's not really a pushback because our clients are more on the media buying side of the things than on the creative part.

[00:44:45] Gaël: Yeah, it makes total sense. And that's kind of a good news. If everyone is attempting to reduce emissions where they can, you know, literally at the front door rather than trying to put the garbage in someone else' s backyard. So that's pretty good news

[00:45:05] Audrey: I will just complete it, it's not everyone, it's not in every company. It still has to be really deployed at scale. But in there are some company level decisions that are important. There are also a lot of individual choices in each single company, there are people who are making the organizational changes, and that's very important to help these individuals that have actually the power to make the whole multinational company move rapidly.

[00:45:44] Gaël: I got it. I got it. Makes total sense. And thanks. My last question before we close the podcast, maybe a bit more philosophical, but I have to ask it because to be honest, I know that I will have some comments from listeners about inviting people from the advertising industry, which is not as bad as the airplane industry, but let's say that you don't, you know, rank super high in the heart of many, I would say, climate activists, and on the other hand, I cannot not acknowledge all the efforts that you're doing and explaining and you're trying to bring regulation, et cetera. So, you know, the philosophy of the podcast is that everyone is welcome to share what they do to make the world a better place when it comes to environmental issues. This is why everyone is welcome. Yeah my question about the advertising and it's something actually I'd like to discuss with you if it's something that you feel a bit when you interact with people, is, if i was a bit provocative i would call it the Solitaire Thompson wake up call. I don't know if you've seen this TED talk, where basically she's a former executive from very big communication and PR company and she deliver this TED talk basically saying that PR and communication agencies are destroying the planet and they need to change the way they see the business in a very aggressive manner, because just adjusting is not enough and it's really basically stop working with any business that is not sustainable etc.

[00:47:28] Gaël: Does it make sense according to you? And is there already some kind of reflection in the industry, or at least with the people that you're discussing? Like, I know I don't want to work with this ultra-fast fashion company because I really do not see the point of promoting their business. Or is it something different with this kind of silos approach that you've described Audrey? What is the mood of the advertising industry, at least digital advertising industry, and at least what you experience on your daily basis ?

[00:48:02] Audrey: Of course, the elephant in the room is the advertising mission, meaning that the emissions due to the products and the service that are sold because of the advertising.

[00:48:22] Audrey: Everyone has to clean up his own room. That's our position at Impact +. Every marketer needs to begin to think about what they are doing, what they are selling, and so on. The overconsumption won't stop this year. And we, as individuals, as co founders at Impact+, decided to stay in this industry, to try to realign our own values with our day to day work life and see what we could change into our own industry, meaning that we are not producing these products. We are not producing these services, but we need individual marketing teams to think about first what they do, to empower them to in the future think wider and think how they can change the product and the services that they sell.

[00:49:25] Audrey: And then we need to begin with something to speak with the marketer. And digital advertising is one of the parts which can be changed rapidly, efficiently. And to show that it has no impact on the company results, let's say. And if we can show that, then perhaps we can widen the discussion in the future.

[00:49:54] Diarmuid: Everyone has a responsibility in the industry, our partners, the brands, all different types of retailers, and individuals, in how we consume the Internet and how we consume our products, what we use, what we don't use. I think digital advertising is something that's incredibly important for the Internet as we know it today.

[00:50:14] Diarmuid: Right? Your podcast, Gael, is free and it's paid for through subscriptions and through your own hard work. But much of the Internet is actually funded through digital advertising, and so it's really the only large-scale economic model that works, because if everything goes subscription based because, you know, creating the content, as you know, it's time intensive and it costs money. If everything goes subscription based, and that actually takes A lot of what we appreciate is the internet today out of the reach of so many people. Advertising helps keep so much content open and free and available. That's super important. We also helped keep, you know, choice for end users in terms of where they buy online.

[00:50:58] Diarmuid: And so, for many small businesses, you know, advertising is the only way that they can survive against, you know, the large multinational corporations. And trying to find the right way that we can protect the ecosystem, that we can provide value to all participants, I think is super important. To do it in a responsible way that, you know, we are conscious of the impact we have in the environment and that we do what we can to measure it first and then to be able to reduce it.

[00:51:26] Diarmuid: Because, you know, whatever number you come up with today is less important than the fact that you're trying to reduce it, and you're trying to optimize it, and so on. Looking at all of the participants and working all together to understand how we can all collaborate to make the world kind of a better place, and reduce our impact on it, I think that's the secret to progress in the conversation.

[00:51:51] Gaël: Fair point. It's interesting to see that yeah, it's a question of where you start your journey and in which condition you can evolve and push things forward. So thanks a lot to both of you for being honest and transparent about where you stand and where you actually want the industry to go and to move forward.

[00:52:13] Gaël: To close the podcast I would love to finish on an uplifting news. I'd like both of you to share a very positive piece of news that you've heard recently, and that made you optimistic about our past and about a sustainable future.

[00:52:33] Diarmuid: For me, I don't think there's any one single piece of information that I think is the positive thing. I think it's a collection of things. I'm an optimist by heart. And so, you know, the fact that more and more people are engaged in the conversation and Gaël, as I listened to your podcasts while I'm running, then it's overwhelming the number of people who care about this, you know, who are getting involved and who are looking for different ways to make an impact. I take great courage from that. The problem is huge, but there are a lot of people who are concerned about it. Also, I see that there's a lot of innovation in terms of renewable energy, you know, energy storage methods that don't use rare earth metals. Lots of different kinds of innovations in how we handle water desalination, and so on, trying to do them in an environmentally sustainable way.

[00:53:26] Diarmuid: I think technology has a huge part to play in helping turn things around. I'm just, very, very hopeful that it can, all of these innovations can arrive before the impact and the harm is too great.

[00:53:41] Audrey: I would say that the, the positive news, it's not a news, but a trend that we can see, is that there are more and more students, going out from huge and important universities around the world who really want to work on sustainable products and sustainable services. They really push for a change in mentality and not only in mentality but in reality. And I think that the good news is that the younger generation now know and now want to act rapidly. And that would make everyone change in the same way I think

[00:54:34] Gaël: And I hope this podcast very modestly contribute s to that, but thanks a lot both of you, that was great to have you on the show. I must admit that it's not my comfort zone, I would say, digital advertising. I was more like a CTO having to interact and to get all these barbaric names plugged into my information system, rather than someone really doing the hard job of selling stuff. So thanks a lot, because I've learned a lot with you today, and I'm sure the listeners as well. We might discuss again in the future if methodology, standards eventually arrive, that will be a big move forward.

[00:55:12] Gaël: So once again, thanks a lot and have a nice, not too hot day.

[00:55:20] Diarmuid: Thank you, Gaël. Take care.

[00:55:22] Audrey: Thank you, Gaël and well done for having learned a lot about our complex industry in such a short time.

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