Faster is Greener by Nature

March 11th 2023

The buzz around marketing is whether AdTech is doing enough to ensure it is reducing its Carbon footprint. What we do not hear are definitive methods of measurement for quantifying such efforts and actually putting green initiatives into practice. This is a subject we’ve always focused on as Faster is Greener by Nature.

We believe that a company really cannot claim to have a green initiative until they have created a measurement methodology to understand true environmental impact.

Below we present our humble opinion on how to measure impact and what Aderize and its vendors are doing about it.

How do we calculate CO2 emitted by advertising campaigns?

The primary polluting services are servers that handle requests and send the visuals to the viewer. Aderize’s services calculate the ad weight and multiply it by how many times we have had to serve the ad files. Based on the research by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and other agencies shown in the studies, we have calculated that, on average, 1 GB of network transfers require 0.06 kWh of energy.

To calculate the energy requirements for each ad, we consider the energy usage in each market where the impressions will be shown. Based on that, we will calculate how much CO2 is emitted based on the energy required for the impressions in each country.

For example, a video ad campaign serving 100 million impressions in the United Kingdom will generate around 4 tons of CO2 using standard ad-serving solutions. That’s equal to flying around the world in a passenger aircraft.

How does the weight of creatives influence the energy needed by ad servers?

We know that data servers can be quite polluting as they handle A LOT of data and serve it worldwide. Most of the time, the data bandwidth marks how much the data servers use energy – gigabytes (GB) served equals the energy used. We found that the most accepted number was 0.06 kWh per GB delivered. Therefore, every ad should be as lightweight as possible and make as few requests as possible so that the server side doesn’t have to initiate new deliveries too often. 0.06 is quite a small number if we look at it as one ad. But every ad request is the full ad downloaded again and again. So a 1MB ad served 100 million times is 1,000,000 GB bandwidth, which requires 60,000 kWh of energy. That’s almost 21 households’ annual energy usage in UK, according to Ofgem

An ad campaign with a video of 100 million impressions running in the United Kingdom using Aderize’s creative solutions will generate around 1.5 tons of CO2.

Aderize’s sustainable partner ad server runs on 100% renewable energy and invests in carbon offsets or removals on markets, in cooperation with infrastructure partners where renewable energy is not attainable.

How are the CO2 savings calculated?

The calculation takes into account the following variables:

  • Size – the size of the creative’s original files (e.g. original pack of HTML, or original assets of others) in kilobytes
  • Impressions – how many impressions the creative has served
  • TO_GB – modify the size to GB (size in gigabytes)
  • AVG_GB_TO_KWH = 0.06 – energy usage to transfer 1 GB (kWh – kilowatt hour)
  • KWH_TO_gCO2 – Regional energy production emissions (e.g. the UK 266g per kWh)

Formula: (Size x Impressions) / TO_GB x AVG_GB_TO_KWH x KWH_TO_gCO2

  • The saving of serving a standard banner with other vendors (avg. weight 1300kb) per 100,000 impressions vs serving an Aderize banner (avg. weight 200kb) is 6.5 times.
  • The standard banner from other vendors, in this case, will emit 2kg of CO2 while an Aderize banner will only emit 319g of CO2 – that’s a saving of 84%!*

*It is important to note that the banner size may vary depending on the assets added to it.

Depending on the assets used and markets where ads are served, our conservative evaluation is that we are able to save between 25-50% on the CO2 emissions of our ads.

How are Aderize's creative solutions better for the environment?

The technical difference between Aderize’s creative solutions come from our processing source. Aderize’s creative solutions often use WebGL technology, which uses GPU for processing instead of CPU. CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, and everything that happens on a website uses that as a resource. Aderize’s creative solutions often use the GPU, which means Graphics Processing Unit, which helps show our ads without having to fight for other resources. This also reduces our ad load time. Additionally, this helps us to have a good user experience on all publisher sites, as the impact of performance is minimal. On average a GPU uses 30% less resources than a CPU, this adds up to significant reduction in power usage on the consumers device.

. Aderize’s sustainable ad serving partner has been certified by the Green Web Foundation to run fully on renewable energy. Our serving side ad server’s market-based Scope 2 emissions are zero for 2020 as a result of the company’s renewable energy purchases. It purchased renewable energy attribute certificates (I-RECs, RECs, REGO, and others) through partners, equivalent to our serving side ad server’s global facilities and network energy usage. All purchases were consistent with RE100 technical criteria.

How do data centers contribute to advertising emissions footprint?

Most of us don't actively think about what it takes to make "the internet happen". However, there are physical places with hundreds of data centers where data is stored, which deliver our emails and stream our films. The truth is that all these activities require a lot of energy and emit CO2. As described by Yale Environment 360, "the processors in the biggest data centers hum with as much energy as can be delivered by a large power station, 1,000 megawatts or more. And it can retake as much energy to keep the servers and surrounding buildings from overheating."

Our ad serving partners have insisted that wherever possible, its data centers run only on Green Energy. Where Green Energy is unavailable, Carbon offsets are purchased.

What do you think? Are other companies truly measuring environmental impact and putting in transparent measures in place to counteract the impact?

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