Shawn Lim
Apr 17, 2024

How UOB reduced its ad emissions without compromising on attention time

UOB believes there is an opportunity for marketers to minimise their campaign’s impact on CO2 while improving overall effectiveness. Campaign finds out how.

How UOB reduced its ad emissions without compromising on attention time

UOB and its partner GroupM have been working hand-in-hand to integrate sustainable practices into the Singapore-based bank’s branding and marketing strategies. In a recent example, UOB’s ‘Progress in Harmony’ campaign conveys a message that people and the Earth can progress together in harmony. But the bank intended to go beyond public-facing messaging by exploring ways it could reduce the campaign’s carbon footprint through the media-planning and buying process as well.

Campaign digs deeper into how network partner GroupM helped UOB reduce ad emissions while optimising views on the campaign video, and how AI was leveraged in partnership with video-streaming technology platform SeenThis.

How UOB reduced ad emissions

GroupM encountered key challenges when integrating AI and video streaming technology on this campaign. One hurdle was adapting UOB's existing ad creatives to meet video streaming platforms' specific format and audience engagement expectations. This required careful consideration of storytelling techniques and collaboration with video content creators to ensure maximum impact. 

In addition, accurately measuring the impact of the AI-powered video streaming campaign posed a significant challenge. 

GroupM tackled this by implementing advanced attribution models considering various touchpoints, such as website visits and app downloads. These models enabled them to effectively attribute the remarkable 245% view increase to the new strategy. 

Through strategic adaptation and advanced analytics, GroupM successfully navigated these challenges to optimise UOB's advertising strategy for video streaming platforms. The agency reduced UOB’s ad emissions by 25% while increasing views by 245%. 

“We conduct thorough data analysis to pinpoint clients and sectors with similar potential for reducing ad emissions and enhancing viewership. Tailored strategies will be developed, considering each client and industry's unique needs, target demographics, and market intricacies,” Carey Loh, managing director of Mindshare Singapore, tells Singapore.

“GroupM will leverage AI technologies to optimise advertising campaigns, ensuring precise audience targeting and maximum engagement while minimising emissions.”

Tom Jones-Barlow,, general manager for APAC, SeenThis tells Campaign it is important to understand that data transfer consumes energy, and energy drives CO2 emissions. 

He explains that SeenThis helped UOB minimise data waste and ensure that the data SeenThis sends is more efficient by optimising creatives and creative delivery. 

“Unlike traditional downloaded ads, we only stream ads when in view, and we do not need to send an entire video file to have it start,” says Jones-Barlow.

“We have been working with GroupM to demonstrate avoided emissions compared to delivering the same quality creatives with conventional download tech for brands such as Toyota and Zespri. We are now developing an integration of our emissions optimisation potential into the GroupM carbon calculator that will soon be launched.”

Measuring the long-term impact of reduced ad emissions

GroupM gauges the long-term effects of reduced ad emissions on UOB’s brand reputation and consumer engagement by conducting regular surveys to track consumer sentiment towards the bank and monitoring key metrics such as brand awareness, favorability, and perceptions related to sustainability over time. 

In addition, sentiment analysis on social media platforms provides valuable insights into consumers' perceptions of the reduced ad emissions strategy. GroupM can assess the impact on UOB’s brand perception and engagement by analysing social media conversations. 

“The agency examines website traffic data to determine if there is a correlation between decreased ad emissions and increased organic website traffic or extended duration of visits,” Loh explains.

“Through these methods, GroupM endeavours to provide comprehensive assessments of the long-term effects of reduced ad emissions on brand reputation and consumer engagement, helping clients make informed decisions about their advertising strategies.”

Christine Ip, head of group strategic communications and brand at UOB, tells Campaign the bank is committed to building a sustainable future by recognising the importance of implementing sustainability practices in all aspects of our operations, including branding and marketing. 

“We have embarked on a journey towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and firmly believe that every action counts and has an impact, no matter how small,” adds Ip.

The road ahead to reducing advertising’s carbon footprint 

Emerging technologies are crucial to lowering digital advertising's carbon footprint, offering significant potential for enhancing sustainability in digital advertising practices. 

For example, AI can optimise ad targeting and delivery, while blockchain technology enables transparent tracking of ad delivery and carbon offset credits, promoting accountability and sustainability. 

Advanced data analytics and edge computing further identify inefficiencies for optimisation while minimising latency and energy consumption. Sustainable design practices, smart devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT) enable targeted advertising, reducing unnecessary data transfer and energy usage. 

Measurement also plays a central role in agencies like GroupM’s carbon reduction efforts, as the ability to measure emissions accurately is crucial for informed decision-making and optimisation through tools like carbon calculator, which measures channel-level emissions.

“GroupM is committed to further reducing digital advertising's carbon footprint by implementing more efficient processes and technologies, such as optimising ad delivery algorithms and harnessing artificial intelligence's (AI) power,” says Loh.

 “Using AI algorithms, we can dynamically adjust ad delivery based on real-time data insights, thereby minimising waste and reducing energy consumption associated with serving ads to irrelevant audiences.”

SeenThis is also helping advertisers to balance the need for high-quality ad delivery with sustainability goals.

For example, LVMH would not work with SeenThis if the platform reduced its creative quality. So SeenThis optimised each segment of a creative with content-aware algorithms and optimised the stream to the end user's environment like device and connection, delivering creative quality to the point that a human eyeball can perceive while saving significant amounts of data. 

“There is also the reality that far from 100% of the ads we deliver are viewed until the end. We can eliminate the data waste from the advertisements that are not entirely viewed while increasing the quality of the ads,” explains Jones-Barlow.

Campaign Asia

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