Why does the digital advertising industry generate such high CO2 emissions?

How do online advertisements, such as banner ads or video ads, actually result in CO2 emissions?

As humans, we often fail to recognize the environmental impact of our daily internet consumption because we're unaware of everything that happens behind the scenes.

To gain a deeper understanding, we must peek behind the curtain of online advertising and consider the programmatic process step by step. Let's avoid technical jargon for now and describe the process as simply as possible:

First, third-party systems and their cookies identify the user. This triggers an auction among dozens of servers to determine the winning advertisement to be displayed.

During this brief sequence, a vast amount of data is exchanged and stored among the servers and systems—around five times or even more.

So, before any advertisement appears, this process occurs in the background at microsecond speeds, generating a significant amount of data transfer and consequently data waste. This in turn consumes a lot of energy, leading to corresponding emissions.

Now, what if we, the users, took over the auction process and decided for ourselves which advertisements we wanted to see?

By doing this, we could eliminate the need for cookies, avoid leaving data traces everywhere, and drastically reduce emissions. Instead of the data streams between servers and systems continually increasing to reach between 100-200, it would stop at just four.

This self-determination-based approach will, and already is, changing the advertising and media industry. We are talking about a win-win-win situation:

A win for individuals, as they no longer have to involuntarily share their data and can reclaim a degree of online autonomy by selecting the advertisements they view.

A win for advertisers, whose ads will no longer feel imposed, but more respectful and relevant.

And lastly, a win for our planet, which will experience significantly fewer emissions.

Beyond its positive environmental impact, our solution is also more sustainable for data protection and for communication with customers. After all, who would prefer imposed choices when they could have the freedom to choose?