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Latest Brian O'Kelley News
Sep 22, 2023
THIS Earlier this week, Scope3 announced that it would be opening up universal access to its digital advertising emissions data. B&T caught up with Brian O’Kelley, the company’s CEO and co-founder, for a chat about all things green. “We’ve waited so long to do this. We’ve tried really to educate the industry that this is real and happening,” he said. “You can open the door and say ‘Please join us on this journey’ but at some point, you have to say ‘You just aren’t doing the right thing’. There are very sustainable companies that have meaningful commitments and actually do sustainable things. But you get to their websites or their apps and they’re just awful with a huge amount of adtech”. Scope3’s work involves tracking the carbon emissions generated through digital advertising. While this might seem innocuous and even banal at first, the amount of processing power and, ergo, energy required to run the world’s programmatic ecosystem is gargantuan. Brian O’Kelley The firm’s emissions tracker generates metrics for millions of digital media properties, including inventory across web domains, mobile apps and connected TV devices. Users of the tool, which includes a number of huge advertising agencies and brands, can access digital media property reports featuring emissions metrics by channel and region as well as tracking emissions change over time. They can also explore supply path maps for digital properties and companies within the media value chain, a notoriously challenging web to unravel. They can also create customised lists to monitor emissions on specific digital media properties and view comparative ranking metrics across the industry. “In a sense, it’s a wake-up call. We’re going to upset some people, I’m sure. But we’re very responsive to that. If they can show that [our data] is wrong, that’s great dialogue and we’ll fix it if we are wrong. And, if we’re not wrong, we’ll tell you why we think we’re right,” he added. However, O’Kelley strongly doubts that his numbers will be found wanting. With so much data flying around the internet to serve, it has to be right. “The granularity of the data is so important because even on the same publisher on the same web page, you may have two placements with dramatically different carbon footprints,” he explained. “On one, you might have a single partner that’s dropping in a video that is optimised and really, really tight. Another placement might be auctioned through three different bidding systems to hundreds of partners, where you have literally thousands of servers trying to figure out which ad to show you. For the data to work, it has to be granular”. There was a slight elephant in the room. O’Kelley is US-based and flew into Sydney to help launch the tool and get more advertisers on side with the new platform. But, in his mind flying for business, as with adtech has to be worth the carbon. “Every one of us in our everyday life should have that dialogue about whether it’s worth the carbon. I flew to Australia, obviously. I did not take a boat or a train. Was it worth the carbon? Did I justify a couple of tonnes of carbon from my flight by actually doing good for the environment? I ask myself all the time ‘Is it hypocritical for me to be here and have this conversation with you?’ I worry about it because I have to justify it to myself, to my kids, my investors and my team” he said. The world of digital advertising is at something of a crossroads. Generative AI promises to usher in a wave of new content and a new approach to digital inventory that is tested, optimised, improved and iterated in mere moments. This change in technology could increase the carbon emissions generated by the industry by orders of magnitude. “The third law of thermodynamics is ‘Entropy only increases, never decreases’, I feel like the internet follows that,’ he said. “This is going to sound very egotistical, but I think we can do a real service to humanity by trying to incorporate the carbon impact of AI into the conversation about advertising. Search is 100 per cent funded by advertising, even the sponsored listings. With retail media, all of those experiences are heavily reliant on machine learning and AI and they’re funded by ads.” But, as long as firms disclose the amount of power that they are using and the emissions are tracked through Scope3, O’Kelley believes that advertising might just save itself from causing an ecological disaster. Hopefully, for us all, he’s right.
Brian O'Kelley Investments
Brian O'Kelley has made 9 investments. Their latest investment was in Break the Love as part of their Seed VC on January 1, 2022.
Brian O'Kelley Investments Activity
Break the Love
Series B - II