Ad Net Zero: cut carbon, cut costs - Brilliant Noise

Ad Net Zero: cut carbon, cut costs

By Penny Richards, September 2022. 12 min read. Posts

In these complex times, every marketing leader’s ability to prioritise is being tested. While the climate crisis rages on, economic unpredictability means budgets and resources are under immense pressure. But what if we told you there are ways to achieve cost and time savings while legitimately addressing your environmental impact at the same time? The key is in the carbon, and the opportunity is in marketing optimisation.

Shining a light on the carbon output will reveal where any amount of effort and resources are being wasted on inefficient marketing operations, opening up a deluge of budget and time-saving opportunities. But where to begin?

Ad Net Zero is a vital source of knowledge and resources setting the sustainable standard for marketing agencies and media sources across the industry. To illustrate the opportunity, we caught up with Matt Bourn, Head of Communications at the Advertising Association, to hear his thoughts on how marketers can raise the sustainability bar.

How does Ad Net Zero want brands and agencies to change? 

“Firstly, we want to get all advertising operations in the UK to net zero by 2030. We need to cut carbon in the three key areas: office operations, advertising production and advertising distribution. Ultimately, we want to make it common practice for all advertising plans to have a carbon budget as well as a financial one so that carbon is always measured, tracked and reduced as part of standard campaign planning.

“The second objective is about the bigger picture. We’re calling for our industry to make more work that promotes sustainable products and services. The better we can do that, the quicker we can get to a sustainable way of living.”

Working with leading global brands we find that, on average, only 30% of content created centrally gets used or activated by local markets. That’s a lot of wasted time, budget and carbon. What’s your take on this?

“Thinking in terms of wasted assets is a really good exercise for cutting operational carbon.  We need to approach content the same way we’ve been approaching plastic – by phasing out anything single-use. Recycling content is essential. Auditing the content archive to see what gets wasted and what can be repurposed is a really smart idea for large advertisers and production facilities, particularly those making content for multiple territories around the world. Inventing that kind of circular thinking means that, when you do need something new, you’ll produce only the most effective content that you know will get used and reused.”

What are your plans to educate brands and agencies to reduce content duplication and waste? 

With the Campaign Ad Net Zero Awards, our plan is to shine a spotlight on best practice in sustainable production and distribution. The goal is to bring forward a world where creativity can’t possibly be considered or celebrated as creative excellence unless it comes with data showing minimal impact on the world. And the journey we’re on during this decade is towards embedding those principles into every legitimate industry award.

“The UK is the first of the G7 to make it a legal requirement to report carbon data in order to be able to list financially. This will be a standard by 2025, and other legal pressures are coming in, so Ad Net Zero is helping brands prepare their operations and supply chains for this change.”

What are the main incentives for brands to address carbon in their content operations? 

“We know there are cost savings to be made when organisations make smarter, more sustainable production decisions. There is no doubt that attaching a carbon value to your ad plan automatically gets you more direct efficiency out of your budget.

“There are also more indirect incentives, since smarter practices send a message to your people that they’re working for the right kind of business that’s doing the right thing, meaning you’re more likely to retain the best, most productive talent.

“But this isn’t just about cost savings. Being a sustainably-minded leader means you won’t just save money, you’ll also grow. Business needs long-term growth, but we now need to grow in a good way, towards a net zero economy. This means that, in every category, there’s a huge business opportunity in finding the most sustainable solution faster than your competitor and then advertising it to raise consumer demand.”

How can marketers best frame the necessity for carbon saving to CFOs and other financially-driven stakeholders?

“There are two main ways to frame this. Firstly, we need to put forward the fact that standing up to public pressure and scrutiny is going to be more important than short-term cost-saving, because sustainability is quickly becoming one of the main factors for consumers considering what to buy and use.

“Political pressures are also coming down the line in the form of new industry regulations – take France’s new legislation that all out of home illuminated advertising has to be switched off between 1AM and 6AM, for instance. Leaders and stakeholders have to be prepared for and invested in carbon conscious changes, or they’ll have a lot of catching up to do.”

What role will tools like carbon calculators play in accelerating this movement? 

“Carbon calculators will soon be fundamental to maintaining standard business hygiene factors and being able to support claims made to consumers. 

“Global organisations are asking for just one calculator to add up all emissions from all three areas of office operations, advertising production and advertising distribution, and we’re now in a period of making that possible.”

We need to approach content the same way we’ve been approaching plastic – by phasing out anything single-use. Recycling content is essential.

Matt Bourn 2022

The tools and guidance from Ad Net Zero will be essential for levelling the field for brands that want to survive. But great leaders aren’t just seeking survival, they’re looking for ways to win. Brands that want to survive have to start measuring and reducing their carbon output. But great marketing transformation that cuts both costs and carbon is exactly what we need. And optimising your marketing operations is the way to win in the age of sustainability and surging economic uncertainty.

BN typically shows how to cut back or re-purpose 70% of the cost, time and carbon from marketing production. We’ve been leading this practice for a decade and are now strengthening our method and quantifying our impact with the help of Ad Net Zero tools.

Book a call to start measuring your waste and shifting your operations towards faster, better marketing.

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