Why Brands Seeking Sustainable Advertising Should Look to Out-of-Home

As brands increasingly prioritise sustainability in their advertising efforts, finding eco-friendly media solutions has become more important than ever.

Now, a new report from Outsmart, the trade body for the UK Out of Home (OOH) advertising industry, sheds light on the environmental impact of different advertising channels.

The study, conducted by KPMG, reveals that out-of-home advertising is one of the most sustainable choices for environmentally-conscious brands.

OOH has a small environmental footprint compared to other media


One of the most striking findings from the Outsmart report is that OOH advertising represents just 3.3% of the UK’s total advertising power consumption, and less than 3.5% of its carbon footprint. 

This means that OOH advertising’s power consumption is proportionally lower than its 3.8% share of all advertising spend.

Outsmart report graphic about OOH sustainability

The report attributes OOH’s low environmental impact to its “one-to-many model”, which makes it highly energy-efficient per impression. 

Unlike some other media that require power-hungry devices and constant connectivity, OOH relies on formats that consume minimal energy once installed. 

In other words, a single OOH advertisement can be seen by countless people without requiring additional energy for each viewer, unlike online ads that need to be loaded and displayed on individual devices.

The chart below, from page 8 of the Outsmart report, illustrates OOH’s small share of the advertising industry’s overall power consumption. Classic formats, such as lamppost banner adverts, comprise the smallest percentage overall.

OOH is 3.3% of advertising power consumption” (p.8 of Outsmart report)

As brands look for ways to minimise their advertising’s environmental footprint, these findings highlight the sustainability advantages of OOH media.

By choosing OOH, advertisers can significantly reduce the carbon emissions and energy consumption associated with their campaigns, without sacrificing reach or impact.

OOH emits less carbon per impression than any other medium measured


The Outsmart report not only highlights OOH’s small overall environmental footprint but also reveals that it emits less carbon per impression than any other medium studied. In fact, OOH emits less than half the carbon per impression of its nearest competitor. 

This finding is based on a calculation that divides each medium’s carbon footprint by its total audience size, providing a clear comparison of their carbon efficiency.

“Per impression, OOH emits less carbon than all other media measured” (p.13 of Outsmart report)

For brands looking to minimise the environmental impact of their advertising while still reaching a large audience, this data point is particularly significant. It demonstrates that OOH can deliver impressions with a much lower carbon cost than other media options, making it an attractive choice for sustainability-focused campaigns.

OOH sustainability initiatives are driving further environmental progress


Beyond the inherent efficiency of OOH’s one-to-many model, the Outsmart report also sheds light on the proactive steps OOH media owners are taking to further reduce their carbon emissions. These initiatives span the entire lifecycle of OOH advertising, from the materials used in production to the energy sources powering digital displays.

One key area of focus has been the shift to more sustainable materials, such as recycled paper and plastic, for printed posters and billboards. OOH providers are also optimising their logistics and maintenance routes to minimise fuel consumption and emissions from transportation. For digital displays, media owners are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources and implementing energy-saving features like ambient light sensors and automatic shut-off during low-traffic hours.

These sustainability efforts, combined with the industry’s end-to-end control over its supply chain and operations, enable OOH media owners to make rapid progress in reducing their environmental impact. By constantly innovating and adopting greener practices, the OOH sector is setting an example for other media channels and demonstrating its commitment to a more sustainable future.

Embracing sustainability


The new Outsmart report provides compelling evidence that out-of-home advertising is a highly sustainable choice for environmentally-conscious brands. With its low carbon footprint, minimal energy consumption, and carbon-efficient delivery of impressions, OOH offers a unique combination of environmental responsibility and advertising impact.

As the report demonstrates, OOH accounts for just a small fraction of the advertising industry’s overall carbon emissions and power usage, despite its significant reach and influence. Moreover, OOH media owners are actively working to further improve their sustainability through initiatives like adopting recycled materials, optimising logistics, and transitioning to renewable energy sources.

For brands seeking to minimise the environmental impact of their advertising efforts without sacrificing performance, OOH presents a compelling solution. By choosing OOH media, advertisers can align their campaigns with their sustainability goals, reaching large audiences while maintaining a low carbon footprint.

As the advertising landscape continues to evolve, the Outsmart report underscores the importance of considering environmental sustainability alongside traditional metrics like reach and engagement. With its strong sustainability credentials and ongoing commitment to green innovation, the OOH industry is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly advertising solutions.

To learn more about the sustainability advantages of OOH advertising, interested readers can access the full report from Outsmart.

Bay Media are a major provider of out-of-home advertising services in the UK and Europe. Our formats include lamppost banner advertising, for which we are the UK’s biggest provider. 

Our formats also include backlit roadside posters and premium billboards in shopping centres.

Contact us to find out how we can get your business noticed locally.