As VOD increases in popularity, and the video advertising industry continues to expand each year, it is becoming more apparent that we need to consider the possible environmental impact that this will have in the long run and take appropriate measures to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint where and while we can. That is why eco-friendly practices are paramount to achieving long-term sustainability in the video and video advertising industry.

How Do Video Distribution and Video Advertising Affect the Environment?

Energy consumption and accompanying carbon emissions are major environmental concerns when it comes to video. The current cloud storage model and digital advertising infrastructure heavily rely on data centers. Storing and distribution of high-resolution video content leads to high energy consumption. In fact, data centers are projected to contribute over 3% of global carbon emissions by 2025. While this may not be alarming at first glance, due to the growing demand within the industry, this number is expected to exceed 14% by 2050. This is especially concerning in regions where data centers rely on non-renewable energy sources such as coal or natural gas, for example, China, where over 73% of data centers rely on coal, as opposed to 23% from renewable sources and 4% from nuclear. 

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Green Streaming vs. Greenwashing 

Green streaming is a relatively new term that refers to environmentally sustainable practices in video streaming. These include reducing storage and bandwidth, preventing hardware waste, energy-saving, and more. And while many have taken the initiative to adapt their operations to the available sustainability guides given by industry experts, unfortunately, as a result, greenwashing has appeared as well. 

More and more video platforms are promoting their products and services as “eco-friendly” while, in reality, no genuine environmental efforts have been made. Due to this, businesses need to be cautious and thorough in verifying sustainability statements when choosing who to partner up with. Especially now that the EU has started introducing laws targeting misleading environmental claims

illustration for the green initiative in advertising

How Can the Video Industry Improve Sustainability?

There are many ways publishers and advertisers can contribute to the ‘greening’ of the video industry. For instance, following guides such as IAB’s Sustainability Playbook, which aims to reduce carbon emissions on the programmatic side, or focusing on renewable energy sources and employing distributed clouds are a great way to start. 

Best Environmental Practices for Video Content Distribution

illustration for a checklist of environmental practices

Video delivery can cause environmental issues at every stage of the process – distribution, optimization, and watching video content. To help mitigate this impact, publishers can:

  • Employ Energy-Efficient Data Centers – Publishers can utilize data centers that use renewable energy sources (solar, wind, and hydroelectric power instead of fossil fuels) and have efficient cooling systems instead of traditional mechanical refrigeration (these cooling systems are energy-intensive and contribute to high energy consumption);
  • Use CDNs – Find and employ efficient CDNs, as they optimize data transfer and reduce latency. This way, you can minimize the energy consumption associated with the distribution infrastructure, especially in regions with high Internet traffic; 
  • Transcode Videos Video transcoding is the process of decoding (or decompressing) a particular format and compressing it into another. Both transsizing (resizing video frames) and transrating (changing the bitrate) help deliver the most optimal video version to the end viewer. This lowers bandwidth consumption for the publisher and reduces the unnecessary processing power on the user’s end (lower energy consumption on end-user devices). To make this process less time-consuming, it’s much more practical for publishers to employ a platform that has built-in transcoding and a compliant video player. That’s why TargetVideo offers publishers both, a robust online video platform and a highly adaptable Superior HTML5 Video Player, which can select between video streams to best optimize delivery according to the user’s internet speed and device screen size.
  • Lazy Load Non-priority Pages – Publishers should delay loading for non-essential resources on their websites to improve load speed, reduce bounce rate, and lower energy consumption.
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Best Environmental Practices in Digital Advertising 

IAB’s handbook singles out some recommended environmental practices for both the sell-side and demand-side of an ad exchange. For starters, inventory suppliers should strive to:

  • Reduce duplicate ad requests – minimize duplicate ad requests and regularly review authorized resellers;
  • Enhance transparency – use tools like ads.txt and directives like managerdomain and inventorypartnerdomain;
  • Implement global placement id (gpid) – assign unique identifiers to each ad unit to optimize performance tracking;
  • Choose preferred paths – opt for a single preferred integration path per exchange to avoid redundant bid requests.

On the other side, advertisers should: 

  • Avoid duplicate purchases – analyze global placement IDs to avoid purchasing the same inventory through multiple paths;
  • Support pod bidding – with pod bidding, a single request is made for the entire sequence of ads in an ad pod, rather than sending separate requests for each ad;
  • Avoid inventory made for advertising – avoid ad inventory on websites whose sole purpose is to deliver advertisements i.e., “made for advertising”;
  • Optimize creatives – use efficient file formats for video ads and other creatives (compression, resizing, etc.,) to lower loading time and reduce energy waste. 

While all of these may seem like small changes, they are still a step in the right direction when it comes to continuous sustainability. With joint efforts, we can reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions, and promote responsible advertising practices.

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Is the Future of TargetVideo Green? 

Very few B2B SaaS platforms run the complete tech stack of their service. So like many others, TargetVideo uses cloud services and CDNs to run its code. However, we are glad that our computing and delivery partners are choosing the green way and are relying on renewable energy sources for their operations. 

From our end, we are doing as much as we can to implement industry recommendations in terms of setup and delivery. For instance, with our Platform Update 6.8.0. we reduced 40% of our ad requests, saving 30-40 KB per load. In addition, we are now reliant on one less server. For the future, TargetVideo also plans to focus on more green solutions to help improve sustainability in the digital advertising ecosystem. 

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