Why Volvo Australia has jumped onboard GroupM’s digital advertising decarbonisation program

Over the last two weeks, GroupM has debuted two steps in its quest to address digital advertising sustainability: A new partnership with B-Corp certified advertising platform, Good-Loop, and its first global carbon measurement framework.

The Good-Loop partner is designed to help clients measure, offset and reduce carbon emissions with the aim of decarbonising the programmatic media supply chain, and applies across GroupM as well as its agencies Mindshare, Wavemaker, MediaCom and Essence. It’s part of the holding company’s new sustainability strategy in Australia, focused on the next era of media for the next generation of consumers born before 2025 (Alpha), who are expected to be the largest generation ever.

The partnership sees Good-Loop’s Green Ad Tag being implemented in GroupM’s programmatic activities for display and online open source video to measure and offset the impact of these campaigns via carbon credits. In addition, clients can go a step further and support climate-friendly activities through two major partnerships with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and National Reforestation program. Launch partners include Volvo, NAB and Foxtel. 

The Good-Loop partnership also complements GroupM’s announcement of a new global framework and calculator for measuring and reducing ad-based carbon emissions across all five stages of the advertising lifecycle in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s standards.

Hot on the heels of the announcements, CMO spoke with Volvo Car Australia MD, Stephen Connor, and GroupM Australia and New Zealand CEO, Aimee Buchanan, to discuss why the automotive brand was one of the first clients to sign up, and what learnings have been gleaned so far.

We also delve into the huge implications of the small steps being taken now to address the digital advertising ecosystem’s significant carbon footprint.

CMO: What prior steps had Volvo taken – if any – with regards to understanding the carbon footprint and environment impact of your marketing and advertising?

Stephen Connor, Volvo: With Mindshare, we work through and understand things like the bus shelter advertising needing solar power and try and work with suppliers who are green or have credits behind them. But it was not hard and fast, or a must to do this or that. We had a view that we should get better at this.

This project [with GroupM and Good-Loop] excites me as we’re now going to the next level. We’re not just trying anymore. By end of this year, we’ll have a measure on our wider climate footprint, so we can start to make some positive changes. We’re re-energised to bring this back to the top of the agenda.

Was this something GroupM clients have been actively asking for?

Aimee Buchanan, GroupM: WPP put a stake in the ground last year, stating that by 2030 we’d be net neutral and achieve 50 per cent in genuine carbon reductions. We’re also the only holding company to include Scope 3 contributions from the supply chain we book activity in on behalf of clients. GroupM contributes 55 per cent of the emissions of WPP. We knew the magnitude of the problem. Globally, the team has done an incredible job of how we go about measuring that.

Last week, we announced the carbon calculator standardisation methodology. We have open sourced that to industry as we don’t want the debate to be about which calculator is better, but just get into action.

It’s great we can measure and come to the Volvo team and say this is what your media plan can deliver. But really, we’re just handing over a problem at that point. It’s ultimately about how we can take active steps to help achieve a positive outcome.

The other thing I’d say is energy grids in Australia means a campaign here has five times the emissions than in Europe. What I didn’t realise is the magnitude of the problem in Australia, plus how little has been done towards rectifying that. At the same time, focus from our executive committee was on the fact nothing is perfect and that we want to start with something. It won’t be what we’re doing in three years’ time, but that’s ok, as we will have made a positive step in the right direction.

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