Episode 21 | 04.07.2024

Out-of-Home Advertising: The Most Sustainable Media Choice?

This week we’re joined by Alex Fahey, Head of International Sales at Clear Channel Europe. Alex delves into the world of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising, sharing his expertise on sustainability within the industry. He highlights key research by KPMG and PWC, demonstrating OOH’s minimal carbon footprint and significant societal contributions. Alex also discusses Clear Channel’s innovative project and their commitment to achieving their sustainability targets, providing valuable insights on how ethical practices and sustainability can drive the future of advertising.

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In the latest episode of “The Responsible Edge,” host Charlie Martin engages in an insightful conversation with Alex Fahey, Head of International Sales at Clear Channel Europe. The discussion delves into the environmental and societal impacts of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising, drawing from key research studies by KPMG and PWC. This article explores the significant findings of these studies, Clear Channel’s sustainability initiatives, and the broader implications for the advertising industry.


A Sustainable Media Choice?

Out-of-Home advertising has long been a staple in the marketing mix, but its environmental impact has come under scrutiny. The KPMG research, commissioned by Outsmart, the UK trade body for the OOH industry, provides a comprehensive analysis of the power consumption and carbon emissions across six main advertising media channels. Alex explains, “They measured the six different channels… and they looked at two main things: power consumption and carbon emissions that were produced.”

The findings reveal that OOH advertising represents just 3.3% of the advertising power consumption and less than 3.5% of the advertising carbon footprint. Alex highlights a key takeaway:

“Per impression, OOH emits less carbon than all of the media measured in that study.”

This positions OOH as a highly sustainable choice for advertisers, especially when compared to digital and print media, which require significantly more energy and resources.


Ad Net Zero: A Collective Industry Effort

The Ad Net Zero initiative represents a collaborative industry effort to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Clear Channel is a proud participant, committed to achieving net-zero for scopes 1 and 2 by 2030, and for scope 3 by 2045. Alex emphasises the collective nature of this initiative:

“It’s about how we take the whole industry forward and we all learn from each other.”

Ad Net Zero galvanises the advertising industry, providing a platform for companies to share best practices and standardise measurement systems. Alex appreciates the initiative’s impact, saying, “There’s this collective feeling that we’ve got something to work together towards.”


The Societal Benefits of OOH Advertising

Beyond environmental sustainability, OOH advertising also contributes to societal infrastructure. The PWC study analysed 14 years of data from nine major OOH companies, representing 92% of the industry’s revenue. It highlighted the sector’s investment in public services, infrastructure, and renewable energy. Alex notes, “In 2021, the contribution was £411 million to public infrastructure, with 90% of OOH energy coming from renewable sources.”

Clear Channel’s role extends to maintaining and enhancing public amenities, such as bus shelters equipped with solar panels and air-cleaning technology. Alex adds,

“We provide a service to the public and it is paid for by advertising… it’s defibrillators, it is solar panels on top of shelters to power the courtesy lighting.”

This dual role as both an advertiser and an infrastructure provider underscores the broader societal value of OOH advertising.


The Future of OOH Advertising

Looking ahead, Clear Channel envisions a future where OOH advertising continues to innovate and reduce its environmental impact. The company’s ongoing projects include off-grid shelters powered by solar panels and the use of recycled materials in infrastructure development.

This forward-thinking approach aligns with Clear Channel’s commitment to sustainability and positions them as a leader in the industry. Alex concludes,

“We have lofty ambitions to hit those net-zero targets… we never stop, it’s constantly what’s next, what’s next.”

The conversation between Charlie Martin and Alex Fahey sheds light on the sustainable innovations in the OOH advertising industry. Through rigorous research and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, Clear Channel demonstrates how the industry can reduce its environmental footprint while contributing to societal infrastructure. As the industry continues to evolve, initiatives like Project Jade and Ad Net Zero will play crucial roles in driving collective progress toward a more sustainable future.

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