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How Media Sustainability is Shaping the Future of Advertising

Media Sustainability

Media Sustainability? We took some notes about how agencies are engaging consumers and companies in a sustainable way to drive change at CES 2023.

When people think about sustainability, they often consider it in terms of what an industry is doing or individual responsibility. But Amy Armstrong, Director of Global Customer Development at Amazon Ads, takes it one step further, “Sustainability is a necessity for consumers, brands, and agencies alike.” 

So, where does the advertising industry come into this? 

Large companies can significantly impact daily life in obvious ways, but they can also more subtly influence through advertising. How are they prioritizing environmental responsibility in advertising to consumers? Kirk McDonald, CEO of Group M in North America, the largest media investment company in the world, says that companies can create growth and profit for clients in a healthy way for the planet. By 2025, Group M plans to no longer be dependent on anything but renewable support for company operations and expand to partners by 2030, leading the charge in sustainable advertising while inviting others to collaborate, too. 

Although offsets are important for the social responsibilities of companies, they must also attack the carbon footprint reduction effort at the same time. A 2020 Higher Impact Study conducted by Amazon found that 62% of consumers want to engage with brands committed to sustainability. In addition, 75% of those customers are upset with brands who feel like they can be excused from environmental sustainability. In addition to revenue-generating benefits, prioritizing sustainability is simply the right thing for companies to do. 

“Every movement needs someone or something to take an action,” McDonald said. In addition to education, media companies need to “leave their ego at the door” and create an industry-wide movement. Efforts need to include measurability and industry framework for processes and milestones, according to Mcdonald. He also elaborated on companies holding each other accountable through constructive criticism and even refusing business from those not participating in environmental sustainability. Amstrong added that media plans should include public “metrics that matter” such as the carbon impact of advertising placements to contribute to a greener future in media and advertising. Both advertising gurus emphasized the importance of goal setting, accountability, transparency, education, and the heart to reduce the carbon footprint of the advertising industry. 

The global conversation about media sustainability is just beginning. It’s time for more action and less talk as we surge toward a greener tomorrow. With more eyes on advertisers than ever, it is evident that the corporate responsibility of sustainability can no longer be delayed.


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