AAR is adding sustainability to agency pitch credentials, encouraging them to report metrics demonstrating commitment to the environment.
The intermediary said the move is a response to a "greater focus from brand owners on agencies'" ESG credentials, as well as its own commitment to sustainability and as a supporter of Ad Net Zero.
AAR has already, albeit informally, been collecting data on agencies' sustainability metrics but has now added Ad Net Zero measures to its agency partner database. This will include information on CO2e emissions, ESG initiatives and sustainable business travel policies, as key criteria.
While it is ultimately up to agencies to decide to comply, or not, AAR said sustainability credentials would add "another lens through which brands can consider potential agency partners, alongside existing considerations such as relevant expertise, culture, capability, chemistry and experience".
George Porteus, chief strategy officer at AAR, said: "Sustainability is a major focus for many marketers just as it is for many agencies, and for AAR. We believe it's important to use our influence to help brand owners access agencies leading the field in this area."
AAR recently took part in a carbon audit and as a result made changes to reduce its energy consumption. Consequently, it has been carbon neutral since March 2022.
The AAR's latest move has been welcomed by clients including a former Unilever executive, who described it as a "great development".
Sebastian Munden, chair of Ad Net Zero and former executive vice-president of Unilever UK and Ireland, said: "I'm sure it will encourage sustainable best practice in ad operations across an even broader agency community.
"We need to move as fast as we can to make long-lasting changes to the carbon impact of the industry. This move is excellent news for every advertiser looking to be confident in the sustainability credentials of their advertising supply chain."