Climate-neutral by 2050: Germany is not alone in setting its own ambitious climate targets – in Europe too, 2020 saw the launch of the European Commission’s Green Deal. Thus, politics is following a development that companies operating in the markets have been aware of for several years. Customers, business partners and investors have all been asking companies to undertake specific CO2 reduction targets and commit to climate protection. Agencies, too, have to tackle this issue, which has wide-reaching relevance not only for consumers but also for the financial markets.
As Europe’s largest owner-managed agency group, the Serviceplan Group intends to be a pioneer when it comes to sustainability – economically, socially and ecologically. In one of the most important steps, the Serviceplan Group Germany has been climate-neutral since 2020. As opinion-makers and advisors for their clients, agencies must also go further and develop a responsibility for their traditional domain – the advertising market – which goes beyond just campaign planning and impact research. Mediaplus has therefore set up an interdisciplinary working group that deals with the topic of sustainable media. In addition to launching a cross-sector debate, the aim is to develop sustainability standards for the market and to introduce sustainable media products. The Green GRP is the first concrete result.
Starting with Mediaplus Germany, the model for climate-neutral campaigns is also to be introduced in other countries where the agency operates. However, the intention is that Mediaplus should not remain the only agency providing climate-neutral advertising. The Green GRP calculation model is freely available to all market partners.
A broad alliance of media partners
The Green GRP is an open industry initiative with the aim of offsetting the CO2 emissions of all parts of a campaign through certified climate-protection projects. When booking a campaign, advertisers can therefore opt for the advertising pressure they exert (GRP = Gross Rating Point) to be climate-neutral. To calculate the resulting emissions and to offset them through certified climate-protection projects, Mediaplus has brought on board ClimatePartner, an international company that specializes in climate-protection solutions. ClimatePartner offers a wide-ranging portfolio of recognized climate-protection projects in cooperation with a worldwide partner network.
It is intended to make the calculation model developed by both companies available to all market partners – agencies, media companies and advertisers. Some of the largest German media companies (Ad Alliance, Bauer Advance, El Cartel Media, Funke Mediengruppe, Hubert Burda Media, Media Impact, RMS, Seven.One Entertainment Group and Ströer) have already joined the initiative and committed to its goals. The media companies have supported ClimatePartner by supplying data about material, distribution and production.
However, this compensation model operates purely in relation to the campaign, independent of the agency or marketer and regardless of which media are booked. If a customer decides to make their advertising campaigns climate-neutral, the media agency gives ClimatePartner the relevant campaign parameters such as print run, frequency of TV or radio spots, or the number of posters used. Based on this consumption and distribution data, ClimatePartner calculates the CO2 footprint of the campaign as well as the corresponding offsetting costs and initiates the offsetting through a climate protection project of the client’s choosing.
Booking based on ROI, not on environmental balance
Nevertheless, the campaign’s impact remains the top priority when it comes to planning. The Green GRP does not affect the composition of the media mix. The selection of campaign components is still based on the client’s objectives and focuses on the best possible ROI, not the environmental balance. It is completely irrelevant which medium produces more or less CO2. However, the Green GRP offsets any emissions caused by the campaigns individually for each medium.
The Green GRP can even improve ROI. Companies receive a certificate from ClimatePartner for booking carbon-neutral advertising and can use the “climate-neutral advertising campaign” label. In a recent survey, Mediaplus researched how appropriate labelling can increase the impact of advertising, showing that unaided advertising recall increases by 9 per cent. The interest in finding out about the advertised product then actually becomes 21 per cent higher. This should be an important argument for companies to think about the sustainability of their advertising as well. According to an analysis by Appinio and Mediascale, sustainability plays an important role in the company for 88 per cent of the CMOs surveyed; 63 per cent also pay attention to the sustainability of the advertising media. Three-quarters of decision-makers surveyed are also sure that sustainable media planning will have a positive influence on the brand, the target group and the competition. This is also confirmed by a YouGov survey, according to which half of all consumers has a positive perception of brands that are committed to sustainability and that invest in advertising mainly in media and platforms with an element of sustainability.
Our vision is to make brand advertising in Germany and soon in other countries too totally carbon neutral. The first clients have already booked their carbon-neutral campaigns. If all market players join in, at some point all of them will operate only climate-neutral campaigns.