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Sustainable media: Govt and brands held more accountable than ad industry

Sustainable media: Govt and brands held more accountable than ad industry

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Respondents in APAC put governments (49%), businesses/brands (46%) and themselves (40%) ahead of the advertising industry (38%) for accountability on decarbonising the way they experience advertising, according to a report by dentsu and Microsoft. 

However, with consumers showing more concern around ESG, it won't be long before this sentiment trickles down to advertising and media consumption.

Titled "The Rise of Sustainable Media", the report found that one in seven (14%) of those who consider the delivery and consumption of advertising having a negative environmental impact, claim to have already taken action with regard to how they engage with those brands. 

While governments, businesses and marketers have time to drive conversations around this topic, the report said it is still the younger consumers are driving this perception shift.

Just 45% of Boomers in the global survey believe consuming ads to be negative for the environment, compared with 71% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennials who share this sentiment.

Overall, the report found that consumers have yet to fully associate advertising and media consumption with carbon emissions. Only 61% of those surveyed view experiencing an ad as having a negative impact on the planet. This number jumps to 72% in APAC where the younger generation is even more aware of the impact, as 81% of Millennials who responded perceived experiencing ads as detrimental for the environment. 

Meanwhile, only 15% of survey respondents think browsing the web contributes to climate change, while just 17% perceive watching TV as contributing to carbon emissions.

Digital Media consumption

The study also found that 14% say the same about gaming and 11% in regard to streaming music. The report surveyed more than 24,000 individuals from 19 countries globally in August. The APAC countries involved were Singapore, China, India, Australia, and Japan.

Despite digital media consumption seemingly getting a free pass from green-conscious consumers, there were still exceptions in certain countries. For example, 21% of respondents in India see surfing the web negatively impacting climate change. The same can be said for 41% of respondents in France as well as 20% in Australia and Germany. Conversely, the report found that attitudes towards web usage were different in the Americas. Just 11% of respondents in the US see the web as impacting the environment; the figures are even lower in Argentina (9%) and Brazil (6%).

Nonetheless, it is important for this green reframing to go beyond words and messaging and instead, be grounded in positive brand action and media choices. Sustainable media should also fall not only to the impact of digital campaigns, their development, transmission and consumption but also to other channels including print, TV, OOH and customer experience. In fact, the report showed a willingness to switch media platforms to aid with the climate emergency. Consumers are ready to opt-in to a better, greener way of sustainable media advertising.

One in five (21%) respondents would change the search engine they use for a more environmentally friendly alternative, while 25% of respondents said they would actively avoid or opt-out of adverts that aren’t produced or delivered sustainably.

Meanwhile, 59% are likely to buy a service or channel subscription which only shows environmentally friendly advertising from brands. Also, more than three quarters (77%) of people globally say in five years’ time, they only want to be spending money with brands that practice green and sustainable advertising. 

What can brands do?

According to the report, brands now have an opportunity to demonstrate just how they create and deliver sustainable media as a means to engender loyalty - as 38% of respondents say they would trust this type of brand more than others. It is evident that the willingness and desire to embrace green living is no longer confined to a small group of individuals but has instead crossed over to the mainstream.

The majority of those surveyed (87%) said they want to do more to combat climate change. The same number also said they will be willing to change which products and services they buy to do so. 

However, many consumers do not know where to start and feel overwhelmed by options and conflicting information, as 84% of them said it is difficult to know whether brands and companies are truly good green citizens.

To tackle this, 42% of respondents think brands should provide clear, comparable information on the footprint of their products and advertising in order to make the brand greener.

Most of them (88%) also agreed that they will have more trust in brands that have their green credentials verified independently. The APAC region saw the highest level of agreement with this need (90%), followed by EMEA (87%), and the Americas (85%). 

That said, the advertising and media industry have been making strides in decarbonising traditional media. The report several ways improvements have been made, for example, pivoting digital spend to low or no carbon providers and shortening the journey from data centre to audience, creating OOH posters with recycled paper, using "carbon eating" paint for murals or incorporating elements of search spend in platforms offering carbon off-setting.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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