Greening the internet by the Americans?

What are these green painted bike paths doing in the middle of Manhattan? Was the land of consumption really starting to care about the state of the planet?

We had arranged to see a number of companies including the leading advertiser industry body to test the water with our environmental marketing solutions. What was the percentage weighting for the environment compared with saving the dollars in a time of unprecedented institutional unrest?

The first day of my meetings corresponded with a 700-point drop on the Dow Jones. Would anyone be interested in greening up their marketing spend in a strategically and balanced way when simply slashing the advertising budget would do the trick?

The answer is a definite maybe. The old adage of “if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it” was being clearly understood so our offering of knowledge of the carbon footprint across all media channels was clearly understood and welcomed.

It was interesting to note that the keynote speaker at the Green Media show in Boston, Mr Michael Harrison deputy VP of brand marketing Timberland, was able to attribute a carbon footprint to all areas of his business except the advertising. So he had his staff make some calls to the TV stations to get an idea and then doubled it.

Not exactly a scientific approach if you wish to reduce. But perfectly fine if you only want to offset and claim the environmental high ground.

The most innovative people I met where my fellow panelists from CO2Stats. If we are talking carbon measurement and reduction software this is the business. The internet is the 6th biggest user of electricity in the US. The data centres and servers that power ‘The Beast’ use over 61 billion kWH per year. That’s a lot of coal burning carbon just to allow your next pop up ad to appear on the latest green offsetting portal.

CO2Stats has an application that sits on the website and measures the CO2 being generated by all the networks and the end users consumption of the data on their screens. Things like bad functionality leading to slow loading times will not only keep you off Google search, it will also lead to a higher carbon footprint.

There are currently over 28,000 on-line companies from around the world using this measurement tool to help understand the carbon impact of the web. This figure is growing extremely fast.

Unfortunately this carbon information is not being shared with us. It is being used to help reduce costs internally within on-line companies, which is fantastic. But just image how much quicker some advertising sites would minimize their carbon emissions if this information was in the hands of the media planners and buyers. Oh, and yes the advertisers who they are working for need to care about the environmental footprint when they sell their goods and services.

We need to get the advertising portals to fess up their emission information.

Until then it will be up to the likes of TrinityP3 to give companies, who have sustainability as a cornerstone of their future business planning, a guide to the carbon impact of their advertising.

So are the American’s interested in understanding the carbon impact of their advertising?

Like us down under I would say it is on the list.

No greater or lesser than it is in Australia. This is sad and bad business as it shows how slow Australia is reacting to the global threat of climate change. We should be taking this far more seriously as we have a major piece of Government legislation coming in called the emission-trading scheme (ETS).

This is going to increase costs. The more carbon you use the more it will cost.

Simple.

To quote Professor Ross Garnaut when he released his final ETS report amongst the financial turmoil “Financial crises are short-term phenomena … climate change is a long-term structural issue”.

To date, marketing has been largely overlooked in the business of environmental strategy and yet ironically it is the way most companies and organisations go about informing the public on their environmental achievements. Surely we can lead the American’s on this one?

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About Chris Sewell

Christopher Sewell is a TrinityP3 Business Director specializing in helping companies understand the environmental impact of their marketing spend. He is also the CEO of The Gaia Partnership who is building an on-line application ‘CO2counter’ to measure carbon emissions in all forms of marketing communications. Read his full bio here
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