Internet Users Want Sustainability Standards For Digital Ads

The Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC), an independent non-profit, is calling for the advertising industry to raise awareness among consumers related to the impact of digital ads. It will require a broad, collaboration among ad industry organizations.

About 59% of the 14,000 surveyed respondents acknowledge having some level of knowledge about the carbon footprint of digital ads, but 61% underestimate the actual impact, according to a study released Thursday.

The AAC released the report Thursday, complete with insights into consumer attitudes toward the environmental impact of digital advertising and potential benefits of implementing sustainable industry practices. 

When learning about the true environmental effects of digital ads, 67% of consumers expressed a desired increase in control, and 66% expressed a heightened willingness to engage in proactive measures to reduce carbon. 



“There are numerous ways the digital advertising industry can reduce carbon emissions,” said Terry Taouss, president of the Acceptable Ads Committee. “There are bigger initiatives, like switching to energy-efficient technologies or choosing green hosting solutions.”

Taouss also said there are more immediate initiatives, like lower ad loads or optimizing supply paths and reducing unnecessary third parties on pages. And there is no shortage of opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in digital advertising, but what is necessary is an industry consensus on where to focus the efforts. 

Taouss isn't sure who will create the standard, but said it’s clear the creation of sustainability standards for the digital advertising industry requires widespread buy-in across the sector.

The AAC is the non-profit that governs Acceptable Ads Standards, a set of criteria that ads must meet before serving up to users who block ads. 

The study, Empowering User Choice for Sustainable Online Advertising, combines findings from users in 14 countries. This research marks the first step for the non-profit in addressing sustainability in digital advertising.

Key insights from the study reveal a strong consumer demand for an industry-wide focus on sustainable online advertising, with 84% of consumers saying they believe that independent regulation of sustainability standards in advertising could effectively reduce carbon emissions from online ads.

Some 94% of consumers expressed their willingness to support publishers who display a badge or label from an independent organization verifying adherence to sustainable ad standards.

And 62% of consumers would be more inclined to engage with ads labeled as sustainable or carbon-friendly by a credible, independent organization.

The study also suggests the adoption of sustainable advertising practices by brands will not go unnoticed by consumers, with 60% of consumers saying they would view brands negatively if their ads are not carbon-friendly.

Some 77% of ad-blocking users might not block ads if they met clear sustainable advertising criteria set by an independent governing body, or if the revenue generated was donated to a good cause.

Taouss said “there are several organizations focused on reducing the digital advertising industry's carbon footprint, such as Ad Net Zero and the World Federation of Advertisers' Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM).”

Tackling an industry-wide problem, however, requires broad, collaborative efforts beyond the capacity of any single company or even group.

“Our hope is that the Acceptable Ads Committee can contribute to this dialogue through our research,” he said. “For instance, our findings in this study reveal that globally, and especially in the U.S., there is significant support for establishing an independent governing body that sets sustainability standards.

This insight underscores a critical, perhaps under-recognized, pathway for industry action.”

1 comment about "Internet Users Want Sustainability Standards For Digital Ads".
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  1. Hillary Read from DMi Partners, March 28, 2024 at 9:11 a.m.

    Great data, Laurie - hoping a consensus becomes a priority in the industry very soon.

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