Research Digest

Green Screens: Why Connected TV Supports Sustainable Advertising Practices


  • Programmatic advertising generates 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions monthly.
  • The more engaging the ad, the less energy it uses to do its job. The highest-engaging ads generate 20% higher engagement and 83% lower emissions versus the lowest-engaging ads.
  • An ad spot in view for 10 seconds produces 64% less carbon emissions than one with five-second exposure.

Advertising has informed trends, shaped the cultural zeitgeist, and has boosted both brand equity and profits, but what about its impact on the environment? A new sustainability study conducted by IPG’s Magna Media Trials with Oracle explores the relationship between ad engagement and carbon emissions required to obtain that engagement, and how marketers can build sustainable advertising practices into their strategy that can deliver on performance goals and minimize environmental impact. Let’s unpack their findings.

The Other CO2 Contributor: Programmatic Advertising

IPG’s Scope3 State of Sustainability Report tracked more than one billion impressions on 350 display ads across 55 countries in the major economic centers including the United States, Germany, Great Britain, France, and Australia. The study looked at predictive eye tracking to evaluate in-view time, in-view rate, and screen real estate, to index media quality and carbon emissions. Programmatic advertising generates carbon emissions through processing power that is equivalent to 24M gallons of gasoline monthly.

The Longer the Ad View, the Lower the Emissions

The study, which calculates the total grams of carbon dioxide released from digital impression delivery (gCO2e) shows the correlation between in-view time and emissions. The biggest takeaway: the longer the view time, the lower the carbon emission per impression. Ads that were in view for 10 seconds generated 64% less CO2 than those viewed for five. Ad load time is a contributing factor — as more ads load, this produces more emissions.

It’s not only the ad-view time that influences emissions, but the quality of the ad. The same study found that high-engaged ads drove lower emissions — ads in the upper quartile generated 20% higher engagement scores and 83% lower emissions compared to ads in the lowest quartile.  These numbers make sense: the better the ad, the easier it is to get audiences to watch it, the less energy needs to be used to get it seen. By contrast, less engaging ads must work harder, consuming more energy, and thus generating more CO2.

What Sustainable Advertising Looks Like in a Connected TV World

IPG’s study tells us two things: firstly, ad inventory and placement matters, and secondly, that engagement is key to supporting sustainable advertising practices (and ultimately ROI). “The correlation [between ad attention and sustainability] is so strong,” said Tim Carr, Head of Product Marketing at Oracle Advertising. “We expected there would be a relationship, but the magnitude was larger than expected. Some marketers still buy lower-quality ads, which cause emissions problems.” Just removing excess “noise” by eliminating inefficient impressions — like video and display ads that run below the page break and are not in view — reduces 6% of carbon emissions. 

Performance channels like Connected TV can mitigate these concerns naturally. Unlike other formats where advertisers compete for attention on the same screen, the big-screen format of CTV demands viewers’ attention organically. CTV adtech solutions like MNTN serve only non-skippable ads on high-quality TV inventory across top-tier streaming providers’ apps — CTV’s audience-first approach cuts out inefficient impressions by serving your ads only to audiences most likely to resonate with your brand message as they watch their favorite content.

Connected TV Can Help Lower Emissions and Boost Engagement

Programmatic advertising generates 215,000 metric tons of carbon emissions a month, but by choosing the right marketing channels, you can minimize your impact. IPG’s study revealed a correlation between ad inventory quality, engagement and emissions; it underscores yet another reason why engagement and ad quality are so essential to a healthy, efficient ad strategy. To keep viewers engaged and deliver on their performance promises, advertisers must think beyond the screen and seek out marketing channels like CTV.

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