Radio – the ‘greenest’ choice

Sustainability is a topic increasingly on everyone’s lips. As a passion for the need for change in favour of the planet’s future grows stronger among consumers, there will be more of a move towards sustainable advertising. 

What is sustainable advertising? Broadly speaking it considers the carbon footprint and other negative environmental impacts associated with a specific advertising medium. Interestingly, it is radio advertising that has by far the lowest CO2 emissions of all media.

Measuring a medium’s carbon footprint can be a somewhat intricate measurement. Essence Global’s Carbon Calculator provides an estimate of the carbon generated by a media plan based on the channels, formats and devices to be used. It also provides an opportunity to compare scenarios to understand the carbon impact of different iterations of a plan.

Using the annual electricity emission factors for each medium in each market, the Carbon Calculator then applies an algorithm to compute the carbon footprint of a live campaign.

According to the Essence Global Carbon Calculator, traditional radio and digital audio are among the top performing environmentally positive media channels, with radio taking the top spot. Traditional radio is the most environmentally friendly medium, due to low device energy consumption.

Results by Mediaplus Green-GRP calculator, which calculates the CO2 emissions of advertising campaigns, also shows that radio advertising has the lowest CO2 emissions. In fact, the German radio trade board, Radiozentrale, recently highlighted radio’s great climate-credentials in a new campaign.

For consumers, even in South Africa, the issue of sustainability is evidently important. The Target Group Index survey indicates that close to 80% of the radio audiences, which Mediamark represents, are prepared to make lifestyle compromises to benefit the environment. It was also revealed that these consumers are prepared to pay more and support brands that are actively finding ways to go green by limiting practices that pollute the environment, and that offer eco-friendly products.  

Brands can mirror these consumer commitments by taking a more sustainable approach to their advertising campaigns. The prioritisation of channels will need to balance efficiency and effectiveness, with sustainability considerations overlaid with business needs.

International trends suggests that the industry itself recognises the need for change. Ad Net Zero, which is backed by the Advertising Association in the UK, found that seven-in-ten people working in the media industry are worried about the negative impact the industry has on the environment.  The good news is that the global shift towards ‘going green’ provides marketers with the opportunity to be a force for positive change.

By Patricia Saunders, Head of Analytics & Insights