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6 key points to reduce the environmental footprint of digital advertising.

Yves-Michel Gabay, Managing Director MEA, Gamned! 

What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Companies around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and responsible advertising. CSR refers to a company's commitment to act ethically, contribute to economic development, and improve the quality of life of its stakeholders. Responsible advertising involves creating and promoting truthful, socially responsible messages that respect cultural and religious values.

Although the implementation of these practices varies across the globe, the Middle East presents unique opportunities and challenges for companies. While the region has experienced significant economic growth and social progress, it also faces as the rest of the world some critical environmental issues, such as climate change. The regional leaders are very conscious of these treats and start to participate in the global efforts to reduce the carbon impact, by switching from an all-oil energy power to other more sustainable sources of energy like nuclear and solar plants. To demonstrate their commitment to addressing climate change, Egypt hosted COP 27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh in November 2022, and COP 28 is scheduled to take place in the UAE in December 2023.

It’s probably the best moment for the regional advertisers to start thinking about implementing measures to reduce the carbon impact of their digital advertising campaigns too. 

So, let's dive into the 6 key points to reduce the environmental footprint of digital advertising.

1 - Defining the right KPIs according to your objective

To ensure the success of your digital marketing campaign in the Middle East, it's important to define KPIs that align with your business goals, whether it's increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or generating sales. It's recommended to use an analytics tool that provides a cross-channel view of your campaign performance. For performance-focused campaigns, it's important to verify your tool's attribution model and ensure it aligns with your brand's strategy. In the Middle East, it's also crucial to consider the cultural nuances and preferences of your target audience when selecting channels and measuring success. Regularly conduct contribution studies, such as Marketing Mix Modelling, which analyze the correlation between budget and sales, and A/B tests between exposed and non-exposed groups to reevaluate the actual effectiveness of each channel.

2 - Optimizing digital ad formats for maximum effectiveness and efficiency

In digital advertising, it's important to choose formats that maximize effectiveness while limiting impressions and file size. Advertisers should avoid basing purchases solely on low CPMs or performance metrics to prevent irrelevant impressions and wasted budget. Creatives and ad formats should be regularly tested and optimized to ensure they resonate with the target audience and achieve desired results. Heavy ad formats, like carousels, should be questioned for relevance, and video duration should be shorter than TV, with 6 or 15-second videos being most effective. Advertisers should challenge their partners on file compression capabilities and ensure compliance with maximum weight specifications. The VAST4.2 standard can eliminate the risk of non-delivery, provide dedicated space for ad verifiers, offer various video quality levels, and generate unique identifiers for each creative, resulting in cost savings. Advertisers should work with partners to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of video ad campaigns. In the Middle East, cultural and linguistic preferences, local regulations, varying internet speeds, and connectivity should be considered in ad creatives and delivery.

3 - Preventing ad fraud and ensuring media quality

To protect against ad fraud, use pre-bid anti-fraud tools in your DSP and optimize post-bid. Prioritize media quality by selecting SSPs with an audit policy for their publishers and creating inclusion/exclusion lists for websites. Avoid websites with artificial traffic, high ad clutter, or low editorial quality/fake news. Choose the most direct path to inventory by using SPO functionality in your DSP and understanding the inventory quality and transparency of resellers, costs, deal opportunities, and traffic shaping offered by SSPs. Manage private programmatic deals by reviewing them regularly, removing inactive or unused deals, and informing publishers about trackers, pixels, and measurement tools used. Control the win rates of deals that display impressions to identify bugs early on. Finally, avoid displaying the same creatives multiple times on one page by setting frequency and recency parameters or using available DSP options.

4 - Choosing your target audience

To prevent fraud, use anti-fraud tools pre-bid in DSPs and optimize post-bid. Choose SSPs with an audit policy on the quality of their publishers and create inclusion/exclusion lists for websites. Manage private programmatic deals by regularly reviewing them and removing inactive or unused deals. Control the win rate of deals to detect bugs early on. Choose targeting data segments that have the best coverage for the audience and use data from a single provider for each segment. Evaluate the past advertising performance of different segments to assess their quality. Establish a healthy retargeting strategy by demanding transparency from partners and evaluating its incremental effectiveness with A/B testing. Control ad repetition with cross-strategy caping and analyze performance based on the position in the conversion funnel and average repetition. Exclude existing customers to recruit new ones and use low-carbon targeting methods by prioritizing fixed connections over mobile and adapting terminal and connection targeting based on consumer usage and format compatibility.

5 - Choosing responsible and sustainable ad tech tools

To choose responsible tools from an environmental, social, and societal perspective, such as ad servers, hosts, publishers, data providers, DSPs, SSPs, and header bidding, verify your future partner's CSR policy. Has the provider conducted a Carbon Footprint assessment? Does the provider focus only on compensation, or does it make real efforts to reduce its emissions? Does it offer advice for more sober use of its tools? In terms of performance tracking, define a cross-channel measurement tool with the advertiser before the campaign, where possible, and measure only useful KPIs based on the set objectives. Avoid multiplying DSPs and partners for media purchases for the same audience or inventory, especially in retargeting strategies. Use a single tool and parameter setting as much as possible for each function to avoid server resource multiplication and conflicts between tools for fraud, brand safety, or visibility control by advertisers, agencies, ad tech, and publishers.

6 - Data cleaning and archiving after a campaign

It is important to clean and archive data after a campaign. Archiving past campaigns helps to reduce their storage weight while keeping the data accessible. At the end of the insertion order, delete the creations with specific dates and events. Keep generic creations as "active" for 45 days if they will be reused for a future campaign. Regularly audit the tags present on the advertiser's website, including partner agencies, retargeters, and ad verification. Remove any unused tags. On the trading side, ensure that there are no more calls on the tags.

Gamned!, a leader in responsible digital advertising and environmental sustainability.

At Gamned!, we feel responsible for reducing the industry's carbon footprint  and we are taking this challenge very seriously, for both our company and our clients. Concrete actions are taken to raise awareness among stakeholders, combining CSR and media expertise to contribute to missions of public interest. The carbon footprint of websites and campaigns is assessed, with affirmative actions taken through sponsorship and automation, connecting with impactful players in the market. Tools are utilized to measure environmental and social impact, with reports indicating up to 86% environmental impact, 70% social impact, and 55% sobriety. With a growing number of businesses measuring emissions, data collection, carbon impact measurement, and reporting are prioritized. Aligning brand image and values with good causes, videos are sponsored, concepts explained, engagement demonstrated, and user contributions illustrated.

Finally, our Gamned! H.Q. has also contributed to the drafting of a White Paper published by the IAB (France Chapter). It is a practical guide to reducing the environmental footprint of digital advertising, providing valuable insights and recommendations based on our research and expertise. Our organization's perspectives have been incorporated into this comprehensive document, which serves as a valuable resource for promoting sustainable and responsible business practices. We are actively implementing the recommendations outlined in the White Paper across all our offices around the world, reaffirming our commitment to making a positive impact on our community, environment, and society.
Stay tuned as Gamned! will bring very soon turnkey solutions on the Middle Eastern market. This means that we will be able to assist all regional clients in measuring and reducing their carbon footprint by implementing solutions recommended by Gamned.

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