By Joseph Worswick in OpenX Innovations, Sustainability|October 3, 2023

Spotlight Series: Eric Shih at Cedara

To mark the announcement of OpenX’s partnership with Cedara, Joseph Worswick, VP EMEA and Head of Global Sustainability, spoke with Eric Shih, COO at Cedara. Thanks for taking the time, Eric!

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I was an electronic music (drum and bass) DJ for over 15 years and have played clubs around the world. I also co-owned a record label with a number of releases across genres including house and dubstep. Music has always been a passion of mine, as I have a graduate degree in music business. Interestingly enough, this actually started my path into media when I started working at a music cable TV network (when those still existed).

Why is it important that organizations build a sustainable supply path?

From an adtech perspective, when we talk about a sustainable supply path, we’re ultimately talking about a sustainable supply chain. The programmatic supply chain, which is composed of SSPs and the publishers that they’re partnered with, represents the majority of scope 3 emissions for media buyers in programmatic. In order for these media buyers (brands and agencies) and the advertising industry to reach net zero, it’s critical that we build a sustainable supply path through the measurement and the reduction of carbon emissions across SSPs and publishers.

Can you tell us a little more about your high-impact, data-driven approach to sustainability?

When we talk about “high-impact,” it’s a reference to our mission in helping the advertising industry reach net zero by 2030 (which supports the global goal of limiting global warming to a rise in 1.5 degrees Celsius). 

How can we achieve this impactful target? Cedara has developed a platform that is specifically designed to map carbon emissions across the advertising industry and provide actionable intelligence throughout the media supply chain to support organizations in reaching their net zero targets. Our approach is data-driven as we’re empowering carbon measurement at scale, which will deliver the necessary data for companies to become sustainable and inform emissions reduction initiatives.

Tell us about the business impact of being able to sync organizational emissions data with media buys.

Delivering organizational emissions data up the media supply chain to brands and their agencies addresses the number-one action in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s and Ad Net Zero’s recently released Action Guide for advertisers to reduce carbon emissions. 

This action states that advertisers should acquire sustainability credentials from its suppliers, which ultimately means they’ll need transparency into the emissions data from these suppliers to ensure they’re tracking toward their net zero targets in their supply chain. Not only will advertisers have more transparency into supplier emissions, they’ll also have more accurate measurement of scope 3 emissions from media buys with this data.

It’s also important to note that when we reference syncing, it implies data sharing through automation to enable a scalable process (rather than manually sharing emissions data by sending Excel files from hundreds if not thousands of suppliers in the advertising industry).

Why is third-party verification crucial when it comes to emissions and sustainability as a whole?

Besides the fact that verification is a requirement in order to set or achieve a net zero target (per Science Based Targets, or other relevant net zero standards bodies), independent verification is critical to maintaining credibility in your emissions reporting and avoiding any claims of greenwashing. Verification can also help ensure that you are complying with relevant standards from an emissions measurement and reporting perspective. 

Bringing it back to an adtech lens, sustainability should be treated no differently than other KPIs such as viewability and fraud, which also depend on third-party verification, to ensure that the media supply chain is properly measured and suppliers are held accountable. 

When it comes to offsets, why are transparency and customization important?

Transparency in offset projects is critical to ensuring both the integrity and carbon reduction effectiveness of offset purchases, while demonstrating traceability of where investments are flowing. Buyers should know exactly what they are purchasing, and be able to select from high-quality and scientifically verified projects.

On a related note, customization and investment across multiple offset sectors will allow for diversification of investment across new technologies and also offer advertising clients the ability to curate projects that meet their own corporate objectives.

What role do adtech vendors play in sustainability?

Per Ad Net Zero’s research, the advertising industry contributes between 2 to 4 percent of carbon emissions globally. Realizing that digital represents the majority share of advertising, it’s apparent that adtech vendors contribute a significant amount of carbon emissions in the digital advertising supply chain. In order for the advertising industry to achieve its net zero ambitions, it will be crucial for adtech vendors to prioritize sustainability (which includes measuring and reducing their own emissions).

Why did Cedara choose to partner with OpenX?

OpenX is not only one of the largest digital ad platforms, but also one of the most advanced when it comes to sustainability given that it was first in the advertising or technology industries to achieve both net zero and carbon neutral certification. 

OpenX was a natural partner for Cedara, as we both are supporters of the Ad Net Zero initiative, our missions are aligned to support a net zero objective for the advertising industry, and we both prioritized measuring and reducing emissions at both an organizational- and media activity-level in the advertising supply chain.

What about this partnership makes this an innovative offering to the marketplace?

OpenX is the first adtech platform to offer a fully integrated media sustainability solution to media buyers that will include automated emissions measurement across all of its campaigns, emissions reduction solutions, and fully-transparent, custom offset project portfolios from Cedara’s platform. 

How have you seen sustainability evolve in the past few years?

About half of Fortune 500 companies now have either net zero or carbon emissions reduction targets in place – many of which were introduced in the past few years. We’re pleased to see that these targets are now permeating through these organizations and various industries, and, of course, affecting the advertising industry as these companies begin to decarbonize their marketing supply chains. The introduction of Ad Net Zero in the past two years is a prime example of this industry impact.

In parallel, we’re also seeing a greater push from governments (in carbon reporting and reduction regulations) and consumers who are demanding action. While this is good progress, we’ll need a concerted collective global push over the next few years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and prevent further damage to our environment.

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