Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023: S is for Sustainability

Scope3 - June Cheung on Sustainability

“My biggest concern for 2024 remains analysis paralysis.”

To wrap up 2023, Mediaweek is looking at the biggest trends, events, platforms, and brands of the year.

Welcome to Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023… and beyond.

By June Cheung, Head of JAPAC at Scope3

This time last year it was less common for every request-for-proposal (RFP) from brands and agencies to include questions about sustainability. Today, I’d estimate it is almost all. Media agencies and brands have turned awareness into action.

So what’s driven this acceleration?

Firstly, impending regulation worldwide, (and specifically in Europe, California, France and Australia) means adherence to sustainability practices are inevitable so there’s a pragmatism about getting ahead of the curve. Here, The Treasury released two consultations that indicate mandatory sustainability reporting will be introduced in phases from as early as 2024-25. Agencies are playing a key role as it becomes a new domain of expertise and, in some cases, differentiation.

Then, there’s money. Or at least a share price (or bonus).  Mandatory or not, most organisations now have sustainability targets and reporting requirements; there’s a realisation that operational practices that are bad for the environment are increasingly bad for business. CMOs now have tools that offer the data and measurement to deliver immediate results. So, if you are looking to decarbonise your business, media and advertising is a good place to start.
Next, comes efficacy. Once marketers and their agencies understand the ease in which campaigns can be amended to significantly reduce carbon emissions without impacting on performance then the genie is out of the bottle.  For example at this year’s upfronts, Foxtel revealed that Scope3 data helped them reduce display inventory emissions across Foxtel Media by -63% and they’re not alone. Encouragingly, the annual World Federation of Advertisers and Ebiquity survey into 2024 Media Budgets noted that 75% of marketers have or will attempt to measure and reduce emissions in 2024.
Lastly, it’s because there is more understanding within the media industry that reducing carbon emissions is both the necessary and right thing to do. This time last year the focus was centered around carbon neutrality and offsetting. Now meaningful reduction is front and center. For example, JCDecaux recently announced it was resetting its climate strategy to prioritise becoming net-zero by 2050 and that it would no longer aim for carbon neutrality as it pushes for more ambitious reductions.
Of course, encouraging as the year has been, there’s still a huge job to be done by everyone.
My biggest concern for 2024 remains analysis paralysis. The media landscape is a complex enough one for large brands to navigate, but for those with less resources it can be tempting to kick action down the curb.
Yet there are initial steps to take. For example, we opened up access to our data to offer a transparent view into sustainability information across the digital media supply chain.  Brands can see the emissions figures for the sites and apps where they are investing, and use it as they build strategies to meet their sustainability commitments. Changing the industry will require collaboration between agencies, brands, tech providers, boards, data providers and more. Reducing our emissions and saving the planet is not a solo endeavor: we all have to be in it together.

Top image: June Cheung 

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