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Pressure builds for publishers and agencies to act on climate crisis

The climate crisis is making headlines in the publishing trade media as well as mainstream news

With temperatures soaring in many parts of the world this summer, the climate crisis is very high on the news agenda. And even in the media news, normally focused exclusively on business models and better ways of working, the response of publishers and advertisers to global warming is making the headlines.

Advertiser action

  • The climate made it into the news from the Cannes Festival of Creativity this year. Direct action by environmental campaigners Greenpeace made sure ad execs there to celebrate the industry’s creativity didn’t forget the impact their work might be having on the environment.
  • During the event some of the biggest players in the advertising world came together to announce a plan to extend the UK’s Ad Net Zero programme to international ad markets. The programme’s five-point action plan to reduce the carbon emissions from UK advertising operations to net-zero by 2030 was endorsed internationally by companies from agencies including Omnicon, WPP and Publicis to platforms like Google and Meta.
  • Recognising that different markets have different requirements, the UK program provides flexibility to ‘adapt and develop’ market specific solutions. The AdNetZero website offers training and points to tools, like the AdGreen carbon calculator, that can help advertisers and agencies measure and reduce emissions from their ad production.

Publisher action

As the advertising industry starts to take the climate crisis more seriously, publishers are considering the best ways they can take action to become more sustainable. Alongside the moral imperative to take action to address the climate crisis, publishers are also acutely aware of the potentially damaging commercial consequences of not supporting the advertising industry in their quest to deliver more environmentally friendly ads.

The largest media buying groups are beginning to select publisher ad inventory using a checklist of ‘sustainability criteria’. GroupM’s ‘Responsible Investment’ framework accounts for the social and environmental impact of a media placement’s carbon emissions.

In response, leading publishers are talking action to improve their own environmental credentials.

  • Conde Nast announced new advertising guidelines as part of its sustainability commitments – it will now only accept ads from energy companies that promote renewable energy products. The business also aims to be entirely carbon neutral by 2030 and use only renewable energy in its offices globally by 2025.
  • Bloomberg Media has gone one step further and has made the commitment to bring its Net Zero plans forward to 2025. Half of the firm’s existing energy already comes from renewable sources. Only 12.5% of its emissions come from publishing operations, but it is seeking a further 10% reduction in energy use across its offices and 5% in its data centers.
  • Bauer released its Sustainability Playbook in 2021. The document includes a commitment to using its editorial influence to change consumer behavior across its key publishing verticals. Kaushala Ratnayake, Head of Strategy, Bauer Media Publishing told What’s New In Publishing:

Sustainability has become a key strategic focus for us because we recognize the leadership role media plays in driving sustainable behaviors. We have set a sustainability agenda supported by eight pledges to focus our action.

This piece was originally published in Spiny Trends and is re-published with permission. Spiny Trends delivers updates and analysis on the industry news you need to stay on top of if you’re running a media and publishing business. Subscribe to a weekly email roundup here.