Awards Case Studies The Drum Awards For Marketing APAC Marketing

One brand's efforts to reduce non-renewable energy in streaming ads explained


By The Drum, Editorial

May 30, 2024 | 7 min read

Winning The Drum Awards for Marketing APAC’s Sustainability Gold is ‘Delivering Sustainable Streaming Ads with More Renewable Energy to Reduce Carbon Emissions’ from Foundation Australia and Sanofi Consumer Healthcare Australia. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of award winning work

Example of award winning work


The media industry contributes a significant proportion of global carbon emissions, with digital display and streaming ads producing 7.2M metric tons of carbon emissions every year–enough to power 2.4M Australian households for a year.*

Much of the effort to reduce this impact sits on the vendor side, optimizing their supply chain to remove wasted carbon and transitioning to more sustainable practices. Aside from considering this within our investment decisions, we wanted to find ways that we too can actively reduce the carbon emissions from our digital campaign activity.

However, we know that this needs to be balanced with the ability to still deliver campaign performance. Any solution needed to deliver a win for the environment and a win to continue delivering on campaign metrics.


A key insight into where we could focus our innovation efforts was from the Scope3 Sustainability Report – Q2 2023. This revealed a stark contrast in carbon emissions between streaming ads (706.5 gCO2PM—grams of carbon per thousand impressions) emitting 2.1 times as many CO2 emissions as display ads (333 gCO2PM)*. The key reasons for the high level of carbon emissions are due to the larger size of the consumer device (high proportion of large CTVs) being used to consume the media as well as the intensity of energy required for the data transmission of streaming content.

This was an alarming figure for Foundation, as we have transitioned our clients to a total screens advertising approach, planning video campaigns holistically across linear broadcast TV and streaming CTV. As a result of changing consumer behaviors, this has shifted budget from linear video towards streaming channels and has resulted in optimal overall campaign reach; however, this investment strategy was now emitting more carbon as a result.

Adding further fuel to the fire, is that in Australia on average 70% of electricity generation is from burning coal—a non-renewable CO2 emitting energy source. Unlike most developed nations in North America, Europe, or East Asia, Australia does not have nuclear power generation which for better or worse, does not produce carbon emissions during energy production.

While Australia’s heavy reliance on burning dirty coal for energy is an unfortunate fact, the flipside is that the remaining 30%^ of energy generation in Australia does come from varied renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydro-electricity.

As such, the proportion of renewable energy within the electricity grid fluctuates at any one time based on the prevailing weather conditions, and in turn that affects wind, solar, and hydro energy contributions by location. Additionally, each Australian state has a unique renewable power mix due to differing power infrastructure and investment in different types of renewable energy.


To reduce our campaigns' reliance on non-renewable sources, we needed to find a way to buy more streaming video ads when the energy grid was cleaner and more renewable—and less when it wasn’t. Just as importantly, we needed to do this without affecting campaign delivery or increasing the price we paid for our streaming inventory.

However, technology to buy ads based on real-time energy grid signals did not exist. This meant to achieve our goal, we needed to create our own renewable ads energy machine from the ground up.

Through our discovery process, we found the central market energy operator who brings together the many parties that make up generation, transmission, and distribution of energy across the nation. Ultimately, they are a dynamic marketplace where energy producers and wholesalers sell to energy retailers, who then market to consumers.

Importantly, this includes detailed real-time data around how much renewable or non-renewable energy is being fed into each state’s energy grid at any given time—one of the building blocks of what we needed to engineer our own trigger model to automate more renewable streaming ads.

Our first step was accessing this renewables data through an API, which provided minute-by-minute, real-time renewables figures, but a custom decisioning engine still needed to be built.

To achieve our goal without impacting campaign delivery, we analyzed historical renewables data across different times of day and states. We then developed an algorithm that adjusted for seasonal weather changes, establishing baseline averages for renewables by daypart and state. This allowed us to trigger ads only when renewable energy levels exceeded those baselines.

Now that the machine was built and ready to be tested, we partnered with one of our clients who shares our passion for sustainability, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare Australia, and one of their vitamin brands, Ostelin, to pilot the renewable streaming ad engine. They had a cross-screen, streaming-intensive campaign that was to go live in February of 2024.

Now that the engine had been built, we then connected our custom Renewables Engine via an API into our Programmatic DSP. This allowed us to dynamically and independently trigger ads across our three key eastern seaboard states, across our three campaign streaming partners.

This holistic approach gave birth to our innovative and proprietary technology to deliver cleaner and more renewable streaming ads.


Across all states, the campaign was able to massively increase the proportion of renewable energy used, with no impact on the campaign quality. The overall proportion of renewables increased by 79% to account for over half of all device energy consumption through our innovative solution—an increase previously not possible.

This was achieved with no negative impact on the delivery of reach, frequency, and pacing in each of the three markets. The daypart engine ensured our campaign delivered throughout the day at above energy grid renewable averages for those dayparts.

A significant increase in renewable energy used to deliver the Ostelin campaign was achieved across all three pilot states:

  • New South Wales - 74% YoY Improvement
  • Victoria - 51% YoY Improvement
  • Queensland - 134% YoY Improvement
  • Overall ESB Total - 79% YoY Improvement

Our innovative thinking and the breakthrough use of data previously not considered has already had a significant impact on campaign emissions. This successful pilot campaign opens the door to a progressive rollout to more clients within the group who share our passion for sustainability for maximum impact.


  • *Scope3 - The State of Sustainable Advertising: Q2 2023
  • ^AEMO – Australian Energy Market Operator – March 2024

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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