Ad Net Zero reports industry progress to net zero, but more work needed

Ad Net Zero, the global climate action programme to help the advertising industry tackle the climate emergency, has released today its first review of UK, US and global supporter bases to mark its 3rd anniversary. 

Overall results, drawn from publicly available information from our supporter base, show that advertisers within Ad Net Zero are leading in setting targets for near term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and for reaching net zero. However, while good progress has already been made across the entire advertising ecosystem, the level of reporting seen by advertisers has yet to fully translate in the same proportion across other sectors. This includes agencies, media owners, and ad tech companies of all sizes that make up advertisers’ supply chains, but notably, excludes tech platforms. 

Specific findings: 

  • 100% of supporting tech platforms have set both net zero and near-term targets.
  • 88% of supporting advertisers have set net zero targets, with 100% setting near-term targets.
  • 35% of supporting Creative/Ad agencies have set science-based net zero targets, but 54% have set near term reduction targets*.
  • 34% of supporting production companies have set net zero/near-term targets.
  • Only 10% of supporting ad tech companies have set science-based net zero targets. 

The ad industry must keep up with advertisers, and the Ad Net Zero action plan provides an immediate and practical path to progress. 

With increasing disclosure requirements and consumer pressure, advertisers are the leading sector in the supporter base for driving the transformation towards net zero. In order to drive the industry towards a Paris-aligned net zero transition and keep up with a tightening regulatory environment, the advertising ecosystem in its entirety must urgently begin reporting and working towards credible net zero transitions. This is why Ad Net Zero introduced mandatory reporting of science-based targets earlier this year. 

In addition, against each point of the Ad Net Zero action plan, there is an immediate and practical path to progress. From step-by-step immediate action guides, to deeper sustainability partnerships and the Campaign Ad Net Zero awards, the tools, resources and inspiration to measure emissions and transform business practices are all operational and accessible across the Ad Net Zero 5-point action plan. 

This is shown in the full report, which can be viewed here. 

Speaking of the report’s findings, Sebastain Munden, chair of Ad Net Zero, said: 

“Ad Net Zero exists to help all sectors of the industry to decarbonise and accelerate the promotion of more sustainable choices and behaviours at scale. That purpose has never been more urgent. Our first annual report sets out the action gaps across the industry. In particular, clients have an opportunity to take the lead which many of our advertiser supporters are already doing. This also means that many agencies and media now need to follow faster, while some are clearly further ahead. We believe the introduction of our first mandatory requirements for supporters, the setting of public science-based net zero targets with annual reporting against them, will have a significant impact on the industry’s decarbonisation journey. This first set of numbers only demonstrates that immediate need.” 

About the annual review 

The data in this report has been taken from a variety of publicly available sources. These include Ad Net Zero supporters’ commitments on their websites, their Science Based Targets initiative submissions, and any publicly available company reports.  

*Please note that for ANZ’s reporting purposes, holding companies, including its agency brands, count as 1 agency. The sample size used in our report was 109 companies: 17 advertisers, 26 agencies (including all 6 holding companies), 26 media owners, 6 production companies, 30 ad tech companies and 4 tech platforms. 

Supporter news from Ad Net Zero 

The ANZ movement is growing. With 2 new ANZ regions joining this year, we now have 18 Global supporters (+ 13 trade associations), 103 companies in the UK, 75 in the US, 71 in Ireland, and 47 in New Zealand (Local chapter numbers include the subsidiaries of many of the GLG members).  

One of ANZ’s newest global supporters, Mastercard, give their reasons for joining the initiative: 

“Sustainability for Mastercard is about doing the right thing – for people and the planet, as well as for our brand and our business,” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer. “As marketers, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on the world around us, but we must remember to also look within – ensuring our own practices and industry embrace sustainable change.” 

The Campaign Ad Net Zero Awards 

In November 2023, the Campaign Ad Net Zero Awards took place for the second time, celebrating the ad industry’s best work tackling the climate emergency. With a 17% increase in entries year-on-year and an 11% increase in international entries year-on-year, the latest awards have proven to raise the bar for campaigns that are not only operationally sustainable, but that promote the behaviour change we need to see in wider society. The awards were produced with special thanks to its headline sponsors, Google. 

The Grand Prixes winners this year were Grey Colombia with ‘Life Extending Stickers’ for Makro, and Essencemediacom/ITV with ‘eBay Pre-loved Island’. 

On this year’s awards, Margaret Jobling, Group Chief Marketing Officer of Natwest and co-chair of this year’s jury, says: 

“The net zero transition is really a team sport. These awards are so important in the advertising space because they really promote that and allow us to learn from each other. Showcasing the best of the best, the Campaign Ad Net Zero Awards allow us to pick up these examples of excellence and run with them into our own business practices.” 

The awards will reopen for entry in Q2 2024. 

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