Overwhelming Majority of Internet Users Want Sustainability Standards for Digital Advertising

Research Suggests Sustainability Standards Could Increase Publisher Revenue and Marketer Performance

TORONTO (March 29, 2024) –  The Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC), the independent non-profit organization that governs the Acceptable Ads Standards, has released a research report entitled ‘Empowering User Choice for Sustainable Online Advertising’. This global study provides insights into consumer attitudes towards the environmental impact of digital advertising, and the potential benefits of implementing sustainable industry practices. 

The study surveyed 14,000 internet users in 14 countries to understand their awareness and opinions of the environmental impact of digital advertising. The results show a substantial gap in consumer understanding of the impact of digital ads, with 59% of respondents acknowledging some level of awareness of the carbon footprint of digital ads, but 61% underestimating their actual impact. Upon learning about the true environmental effects of digital ads, a striking 67% of consumers expressed a desire for increased control and 66% expressed a heightened willingness to engage in proactive measures.

“This research underscores a critical shift in consumer attitudes towards online advertising and sustainability,” said Terry Taouss, President of the Acceptable Ads Committee. “It is clear that internet users are not only ready, but eager for change. There is a significant opportunity for the advertising industry to meet this demand by embracing and promoting sustainable practices.”

Key insights from the study reveal a strong consumer demand for an industry-wide focus on sustainable online advertising:

  • 84% of consumers believe that independent regulation of sustainability standards in advertising could effectively reduce carbon emissions from online ads.
  • 94% of consumers expressed their willingness to support publishers who display a badge or label from an independent organization verifying adherence to sustainable ad standards.
  • 62% of consumers would be more inclined to engage with ads that are labeled as sustainable or carbon-friendly by a credible, independent organization

The study further indicates that the adoption of sustainable advertising practices by brands will not go unnoticed by consumers. 60% of consumers said that they would view brands negatively if their ads are not carbon-friendly, with 42% ‘agreeing’ and 18% ‘strongly agreeing’. Additionally, 65% are more likely to purchase from brands that engage in sustainable advertising practices, with 45% ‘agreeing’ and 20% ‘strongly agreeing’. 

“It is critical that everyone in the advertising industry focus on the tools and data we need to actively reduce emissions as soon as possible, and be committed to transparency and accountability. With this report, The Acceptable Ads Committee puts a spotlight on taking action in these ways, and reminds us that we all need to work together to have an effective solution.” – John Osborn, US Director, Ad Net Zero

The research underscores the increasing call for a robust, independently-monitored standard focused on the sustainability of digital advertising. The Acceptable Ads Committee plans to further this research, seeking insights from consumers and industry stakeholders. This initiative aims to champion a clear, impactful industry standard that resonates with these environmental issues, contributing to a more sustainable and reliable digital advertising environment.

To download the complete report, please visit: https://mailchi.mp/b7df01573267/aac-sustainability-research

Research Methodology:
Over 14,000 adults from 14 countries participated in an online survey. The countries surveyed included: USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and Vietnam. Approximately 1,000 individuals from each country were surveyed to ensure a wide and diverse range of perspectives. Respondents included a mix of consumers with (71%) and without (29%) ad blocking solutions, and filtered to meet representative age and gender quotas. More information is available in the report.

About the Acceptable Ads Committee:

Over 250MM online users worldwide are open to receiving Acceptable Ads. Established in 2017, the Acceptable Ads Committee is a non-profit organization whose objective is to protect the user experience, while simultaneously providing publishers and content creators with meaningful monetization opportunities. The Committee does so by conducting independent research into the acceptability of various ad formats and codifying the results in the Standard for what constitutes an Acceptable Ad. One of the few advertising bodies that provides a voice for internet users, the Acceptable Ads Committee aims to maintain a sustainable open internet by balancing the needs of its stakeholder representatives, including users, publishers, advertisers, ad tech companies, and digital rights organizations. To learn more about the Acceptable Ads Committee, please visit www.acceptableadscommittee.org.