Top 3 Sustainable Marketing Trends in 2024

Aurélien Loyer

Global Thought Leadership Director, dentsu

In 2024, consumers will increasingly express their concerns about environmental and climate changes in the products and brands they choose, and this will compound the economic challenges brands already face. Brands that can implement carbon media efficiency measures and embed sustainable marketing strategies in their campaigns will be well positioned for success in 2024.

This article is extracted from The Pace of Progress – 2024 Media Trends, dentsu’s 14th annual trends report. Read on to learn how sustainable marketing awareness will shape advertising practices and impact business efficiencies.

1. Consumers Look Beyond Promises

Although an increasing number of companies are pledging to head toward a net zero future, consumers want concrete actions today. According to dentsu research,  55% of US and Canada consumers expect sustainable businesses to reduce their carbon emissions now, but believe those companies are falling short of expectations.

As brands look for concrete opportunities to be more carbon efficient, they must identify their carbon emitting activities accurately. For instance, the core emissions scope of media activities encompasses media campaign planning, ad data storage, ad routing and distribution, and consumer use audience devices. It is important for brands to define the right scope for media to set the right goals and confidently measure the carbon footprints of their marketing campaigns.

2. The Media Supply Chain Reinvents Itself

Advertisers aiming to reduce – not just offset – the carbon generated by media activities can count on booming carbon insetting innovations across the channels and infrastructure supporting ad delivery.

From a trading perspective, advertisers can explore zero marketplaces that only include media owners with science-based targets that support media decarbonization. From a technical perspective, they can look to optimize the creative configuration, for example the file size or second length, but also to leverage solutions such as dentsu Attention Ads Labs to analyze the ad creative effectiveness and deliver the same impact more concisely. They can even consider alternative solutions to ad serving such as ad streaming which reduces load time – and thereby carbon emissions – of digital creatives without file size restrictions.

3. Decarbonizing Through High Impact

Alongside these carbon-reduction tactics, we expect a media planning shift in 2024, supported by the increased sophistication of media carbon calculators, to help campaigns achieve both their media carbon optimization goals and brand objectives.

Marketers can now use media carbon calculators to understand whether a campaign type (e.g., brand or performance) leads to a disproportionate number of emissions, whether ad emission shares and ad spend shares are unbalanced across the plan, or whether their media guidelines lead to increased emissions from some channels.

This sophistication will lead to new, better metrics. Marketers can look beyond the absolute carbon emissions of channels, vendors, and formats, to consider their tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) per media metric (e.g., per reach point). That should help them understand the implications of planning decisions on media carbon efficiency and media effectiveness.

Building upon the correlation between attention with recall and brand choice, dentsu hypothesize that optimizing for attention will reduce spend on inventory with little audience value – sometimes called the “long tail” – and, doing so, reduce the carbon footprint of campaigns. Initial results suggest the ability to identify programmatic inventory that offers both greater attention and reduced carbon, which could open perspectives for future custom bid algorithms. Ultimately, bringing attention optimization and carbon efficiency strategies together could lead toward the establishment of a Carbon Cost of Cognition currency to measure the carbon cost of delivering recall (i.e., CO2 cost/Effective attention).

What’s next?

As awareness grows about the climate impact of our industry, progress in media carbon emissions measurement, sustainable marketing and attention research will create an exciting potential to build campaigns both effective and kind to the environment.

This is the final media trend discussed in dentsu’s The Pace of Progress – 2024 Media Trends report.

Look back at trends 1 through 9 for previous reports.