How attention metrics can make advertising more sustainable

Attention metrics are the new gold standard for digital advertising measurement in more ways than one. We’ve written about how they help advertisers create more engaging advertising – but they help advertisers make advertising sustainable, too.


Making advertising sustainable is no easy task, but it’s an essential one.


Digital advertising may not have a physical presence, but that doesn’t mean delivery’s free. An average ad campaign emits 70 tons of CO2. That’s the equivalent of 7,877 gallons of gasoline being consumed. Across an entire year, that’s 7.2 million metric tons of emissions from digital display and streaming ads alone.


Efforts to make digital advertising sustainable need to be made on several fronts. One of those is optimizing by maximizing attention and minimizing wasted impressions.


But first, a quick recap on attention metrics.



Prior to the new paradigm of attention measurement, viewability has long reigned supreme as the advertiser’s metric of choice. As opposed to mere impressions, viewability has minimum thresholds for ads being in view (the IAB, for video ads, requires 50% of the ad unit to be in view for two consecutive seconds to be considered viewable).


But being viewable doesn’t mean viewed.

Attention measurement is the science of measuring how many people who can see an ad actually look. It’s an all-important metric, especially in a time when viewability is increasing but time spent viewing is decreasing.


The industry is still figuring out standardized attention measurement. At the moment, attention measurement ranges from scientific eyeball tracking studies to attention measurement models.


For a more detailed breakdown of attention metrics, check out our blog post on the topic.



Attention metrics help advertisers do more with fewer impressions, meaning that while maximizing efficiency advertisers are lowering their carbon footprint.


Impressions are easily wasted: despite having high viewability, advertisers can’t tell if an ad isn’t engaging audiences properly without measuring attention. That means ineffective ad campaigns can go on running ineffectively, wasting energy in the process.


However, maximizing efficiency with attention metrics isn’t enough. Advertising isn’t made sustainable with a single solution, it has to be tackled on multiple fronts.


One of those fronts is carbon measurement. Companies such as Cedara build carbon maps, outlining exactly where in the supply chain emissions are high and able to be cut. Working across the entire value chain, these carbon measurement agencies work with brands, agencies, publishers, and platforms.


While cutting emissions should be the priority, remaining emissions should be offset. While carbon offsetting is an industry rife with controversy, reputable companies such as Scope3 use science-based offsetting techniques.


Another factor that makes digital advertising a polluter is the back-and-forth bidding process of programmatic advertising. As we found out with Cedara’s emissions calculator, by cutting out the middle man and going direct to suppliers, energy is saved and emissions are cut down.


To make sustainable advertising more accessible, we offer Green Media campaigns which track and offset carbon emissions from advertisement delivery. Check it out!