Why we need new KPIs to steer our media investments towards sustainable performance.

In essence, steering our investments towards sustainable performance means eliminating waste from our media plans. This fundamental shift in mindset will require marketers to entirely rethink the way they look at performance. So where do we start?

A successful media campaign today successfully balances cost, reach, quality, and profitability. Yet with increasing pressure on companies to make net zero commitments, marketing investments, like many other business areas, will soon need to be integrated into a trajectory in line with the Paris agreement. 

This fundamental shift in mindset will require marketers to entirely rethink the way they look at performance. So where do we start ?

Today’s harsh reality is that the $600B yearly investment in digital media is estimated to generate about 40M tCO₂, as much as a country like Sweden. This means that each actor across the advertising value chain needs to become more mindful of the (currently hidden) carbon cost of their online activities. 

You might think this is a daunting task, and you would not be wrong: media performance is already a highly complex equation and it can be hard to prioritize the multitude of performance indicators we have access to. What will we do with new ones ? 

Yet we should not think of environmental metrics as just another range of KPIs we will merely add to our reports without taking action. Instead, we should think of them as enabling us to take a completely new perspective on how we view performance.

But how do we get a comprehensive picture of digital emissions?

In essence, the role of environmental KPIs will be to ensure we eliminate waste from our media plans. For instance, wasted impressions, i.e. impressions that do not serve our media campaign objectives, generate energy, which will generate emissions. By optimizing towards reducing waste, we will simultaneously reduce both media emissions and media costs, at a time where the costs of electricity are rising steeply. 

This approach will also reward brands with the most impactful assets – if we can say in 6s what we might have in 30s, it will benefit the planet, ad recall, and reduce production cost. Therefore we should view our new environmental performance indicators as a new prism through which to view campaign efficiency against objectives.

Shifting our mindset is no easy task - here are 3 tips on how to make the most out of your environmental metrics.

The first guideline? Set a roadmap.

Measuring and visualizing the environmental impact of our digital activations shouldn’t be a one-time effort. In order to drive actual change, it is important to make it part of a clear roadmap with ambitious (yet achievable), measurable, time-bound objectives and hold ourselves accountable.

At footsprint, after a first campaign assessment and quick wins recommendations, we help you embark on the digital sustainability journey by designing custom mitigation plans, based on your business priorities. Start building your own.

Second? Favor data clarity over data obesity.

Evaluating a campaign efficiency through a sustainability lens requires a rigorous approach. To avoid falling in rabbit holes by over collecting and analyzing data without added value, we should focus on what will be driving action. This means:

  • Start with the big picture and narrow it as you go based on reduction potential.
  • Focus on metrics that can support actual decision making.

By  working with a team composed of both seasoned environmental and media experts, we can help you visualize your impact with a dedicated media and sustainability dashboard as well as to identify key action pillars to optimize your media campaigns for sustainability while securing your business performance. Meet your dedicated team

Third guideline: train your team, educate your ecosystem.

Training has always been at the forefront of all successive waves of corporate change. That is why providing the knowledge to make informed decisions but also cultivating behavioral change is a must to make effective headway in your digital sustainability journey.

In the case of a responsible approach to media, learning about digital pollution and why it matters is essential. It will have to come with a solid understanding of key emissions indicators, to maximize the chances of effectively reducing emissions.

From digital sustainability fundamentals to practical training tackling more specific topics, discover our trainings. 

Elisa Boivin


Elisa joined Labelium 7 years ago and focused as a Media Director on accompanying large, fast-growing brands specializing in the Luxury, Fashion and Beauty industries. In 2020, she joined the Labelium Americas Marketing & Consulting team as Program Director, overseeing large international RFPs for the agency and developing new services for the region. In 2021, she was named ESG Director for the region spearheading Labelium’s first ESG materiality analysis and uncovering a gap in today’s ESG auditing methodologies in measuring the carbon footprint of digital advertising.

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Steering our investments towards sustainable performance means eliminating waste from our media plans. Where do we start?