Decarbonising data: Essence launches sustainable programmatic marketplace

Going beyond just ‘offsetting’, a major ad agency is aiming to reduce total carbon emitted per publisher by 33% on average

Data and measurement-driven agency Essence, part of GroupM, has announced the creation of a sustainable programmatic marketplace.

The launch aims to further the adoption of GroupM’s recently announced media decarbonisation framework, reduce the carbon footprint of advertising campaigns, and reward publishers that are actively addressing the climate crisis in their editorial coverage.

The marketplace consists of trusted UK publishers with clear Net Zero strategies who have committed to decarbonising their media supply and adopting GroupM’s framework for measuring and reducing carbon emissions.

The agency claims that unlike other initiatives in the market, publishers in Essence’s sustainable programmatic marketplace are focused on decarbonising their businesses with reduction and regeneration a priority, ahead of offsetting.

The marketplace provides clients at Essence and the future EssenceMediacom with a simple and effective way to invest in publishers that have strong sustainability credentials and net zero ambitions, lower carbon emissions, and who are advancing responsible journalism and public information on the subject of climate change.

Laura Wade, Essence’s VP, Head of Sustainability in EMEA, said: “We all have a stake in the future and need to be doing everything we can to urgently address the climate crisis. As an industry, this means implementing fundamental changes to the way we work, to ensure we're not just neutralising carbon, but actually reducing carbon emissions and creating sustainably-oriented businesses. The marketplace will use the most direct programmatic supply chain currently available, removing intermediaries and other resellers that can increase the carbon emissions of a campaign unnecessarily.

Matthew McIntyre, VP, Programmatic at Essence in EMEA, said: “The programmatic ecosystem has grown so rapidly over recent years its supply chain is full of companies unnecessarily adding emissions and fees. We’ve seen great take up and interest already, with more clients to launch in the coming weeks.”

Measuring impacts 

Essence is working with Scope3 to measure the carbon emissions of programmatic media within the boundaries defined by GroupM and to compensate precisely for the carbon generated through a portfolio of high-quality carbon removal projects.

Advertisers will also have the opportunity to increase the regeneration efforts through a unique portfolio managed by Right Thing Media that invests in local, environmental and social impact projects through non-profits and charities.

The initial set of publishers included in the marketplace deliver an average reduction of 33% in carbon emitted per impression, as measured by Scope3 (base emissions + supply path emissions), when compared to Essence’s regular publisher inclusion list in the UK.

Ryan Storrar, CEO for Essence in EMEA said: “We’re proud to be actively building solutions to improve ways of working and reduce carbon in our industry. This marketplace enables our clients to use their media investment to drive systemic change now and help in the effort to scale media decarbonisation.

“As a company founded on the principle of making advertising more valuable to the world, it seems fitting that Essence and soon EssenceMediacom will play a key role in helping GroupM lead the industry on its next great challenge; cleaning up the digital ecosystem and making advertising practices more sustainable” Storrar added.

GroupM and WPP have committed to decarbonise the network to reach Net Zero in direct operations by 2025 and its value chain by 2030, reducing absolute media value chain emissions by at least 50% by 2030.