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  • Writer's pictureCarbon Trading Desk

How to accurately calculate carbon emissions for digital advertising

Calculating greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) from internet advertising is not easy. While an ad is initially stored in a data centre, it travels through many different technologies in a complex ecosystem before finally reaching the end-user device. It can then be served as an ad impression.

We have made several assumptions to come up with the calculation.

  1. Every impression downloads all assets

  2. For video, each view considers a full download of the video

  3. Additional trackers are not considered in the calculation

  4. Carbon intensity of electricity is based on Ember – global energy think tank (most are 2021, some 2020) -

  5. Internet electricity consumption per GB of data from Sustainable web design-

Considering the above, we have derived the calculation to compute carbon emissions across multiple countries for digital advertising campaigns.

A) Advertising asset size = 5 mb The biggest direct contributor is the size of the creative

B) Internet Energy Consumption = 1.8 kWh/GB see assumption for details

C) Energy per Ad impression = (A)*(B) = 0.1242

D) Carbon intensity of electricity = 441 gCO2 eq/kWh see assumption, world average, depends on the country

E) Carbon emission per ad = (C)*(D) = 5.477 gCO2

F) Campaign Delivery (total imp) = 10M based on total campaign delivery

G) Total Campaign Carbon Emission = (E)*(F) = 54.77 tonCO2

H) Carbon Offset Cost = $30/tCO2 depends on the project we select for offset

I) Total Offset Cost = (G)*(H) = $1,643.17

While this might not be the perfect calculation, you are welcome to try our calculator on the main page & get in touch with us to provide constructive feedback to improve the calculations

Here are some other calculators you can try online.

IPA Media Climate Charter (Members Only)

Good Loop Calculator (UK Only)

The Nature Conservancy (Personal Calculator)

SME Climate Hub (Business Calculator)

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