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The electric car market evolution

The electric car market has undergone a remarkable evolution in recent years, transforming from niche to truly mainstream. To paint that picture, in 2016 worldwide sales of Electric Vehicles[1], were less than a million, while in 2022 that figure had rocketed to over 10m[2]. To put that in context, in the first half of 2023 53% of all new cars sold in the UK were electric.

At The GoodNet, we see this shift clearly in the number of brands, including Kia, Mazda and Renault, looking to market their products through us, and in the great content created on the subject by ethical media publishers.

In this short blog we will look at some of the key trends and issues around EVs:

Our main takeaways

  1. While it’s not as clear cut as electric vehicles = good for the environment, they are on balance a better option than internal combustion, and a tangible step in the right direction.
  2. Concern for the environment is a key motivator for people to buy EVs, alongside factors like cheaper running costs.[3]
  3. There is a huge amount of content to be found on the subject, covering everything from product reviews to consumer advice.

Do EVs benefit the environment?[4]

Let’s be honest, this is a tricky subject, because ‘benefitting the environment’ can encompass so many different things.

Looked at through the lens of tailpipe emissions, the picture is clear. Hybrid cars produce fewer emissions than petrol and diesel cars, while battery EVs emit nothing at all. The result? Better air quality and fewer greenhouse gasses.

On the other hand, the electricity used to power these cars can often come from non-renewable sources, and there are high emissions involved in the manufacturing of batteries themselves, (as well as separate issues to do with the mining of raw materials and the disposal of old stock).

Yet despite these trade-offs, the lifetime emissions of a battery EV are currently around 30% lower than a combustion engine vehicle, and this is only set to improve with the decarbonisation of the electricity sector and advancements in the sustainability of battery production itself.

So, on balance, EVs are a meaningful step in the right direction.

Which brands are leading the way?

It won’t be a surprise that Tesla continues to lead the market, although six of the top ten best-selling models in the first part of 2023 were sold by Chinese manufacturer BYD.[5] More broadly, the market is split into established brand with EV models, and new EV-only entrants.

  1. Established brands include:
    1. Nissan: The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mass-market EVs and continues to stand for affordability and practicality.
    2. VW: The ID.4 was the best-selling EV in the world in Jan 2023 outside the Tesla / BYD duopoly.
    3. Kia: Kia not only promote a strong range of EVs, they also have a long-term partnership to fund the charity Ocean Cleanup, as part of their broader sustainability objectives.
  2. EV only entrants:
    1. Polestar: Whilst a subsidiary of Volvo, Polestar’s sharp marketing and product design has positioned them as a leader in the premium EV space.
    2. Tesla: Again. Obviously.

In general, we don’t see EV advertising focusing overtly on the environmental benefits. In fact, these campaigns often look and feel like more traditional automotive ads. Despite this, consumer behaviour is influence to a by environmental concerns, which presents an opportunity to the market.

What ethical media will tell me more?

There’s a wealth of info out there, from sites like CleanTechnia serving up the facts and figures on the market, to Green Matters giving honest advice about how to avoid some of the pitfalls of EV ownership, to Inside EVs giving fantastic product reviews.

Through working with The GoodNet, brands can reach an audience of ethical consumers who are 3x more likely than average to be interested electric and hybrid cars.

[1] Including Battery Electric and Hybrid vehicles

[2] Statista Market Insights

[3] YouGov 2020


[5] Cleantechnica, Jan 2023

The Ethical Food Revolution

At The GoodNet, we work with many brand categories, but one that we’ve seen emerge more recently is the growth in brands promoting meat free alternatives and dairy free products to an ethical consumer audience.

According to the Vegan Society, consumers following a vegan diet has quadrupled in the past decade, with one third of brits vowing to cut back on animal products. In 2023 one in eight people took on the Veganuary craze, promising to stick to a meat and dairy free diet throughout January, showcasing the rise in people looking for healthier, and planet friendly food choices.  

In this blog post, we look at how meat free benefits our environment, brands that are leading the charge and finally where you can learn more…

Here are our main three takeaways:

  1. A meat and dairy free diet can have a huge impact on our planet; If everyone moved to a non-dairy milk alternative, the level of greenhouse gases omitted would be two thirds lower.
  2. Vegan does not mean boring! Mainstream and start up brands are launching exciting meat and dairy free alternatives, from H!P chocolate to household names like Marks and Spencer.
  3. There are is a wealth of education out there and multiple ethical publishers help guide ethical consumers a more planet friendly diet, from how vegan cheese is made through to the best restaurants to go to to get your vegan fix.

How is going meat free benefiting the environment?

 In a recent study by Oxford University, they showcase that a Vegan diet has the potential to reduce food-related emissions by up to a whopping 73%. But why is the mainstream diet so harmful to our environment?

Livestock farming is a leading cause of greenhouse gases due to aspects like fermentation and manure management, having a huge impact on our climate everyday. The demand for agriculture also leads to deforestation as tracts of land are cleared to create grazing areas and produce animal feed, meaning ecosystems around the world are destroyed. And finally, the food system is responsible for 70% of the world’s freshwater use and 78% of the world’s freshwater pollution, which affects our environment.

The impact of eating meat and dairy every day is huge, and even a small commitment to meat and dairy free alternatives can have a lasting impact. If over the course of the year you skipped meat and cheese one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five whole weeks and if everyone moved to a non-dairy milk alternative, the level of greenhouse gases omitted would be two thirds lower.

Who are the brands leading the way in this space?

The surge in demand for vegan products has driven innovation in multiple industries, from food to beauty. These are brands that are championing vegan products that cater to both ethical consumers and those seeking healthier alternatives, not just those who are undertaking a fully vegan diet.

From established giants to innovative start-ups, these brands are redefining the boundaries of traditional products. Here’s a glimpse into some standout names that are leading the charge with their vegan alternatives.

 Mainstream Giants:

  1. Beyond Meat: This industry trailblazer has changed the way we perceive plant-based protein. Beyond Meat’s offerings, like their Beyond Burger, sausages, and ground meat, have successfully captured the taste and texture of meat, attracting not only vegans but also meat enthusiasts looking to reduce their environmental footprint.
  1. Green Kitchen from Marks and Spencer: A testament to the growing demand for meat free options, Green Kitchen offers a diverse range of ready-made vegan meals and is front and centre on the M&S shelves!

New Innovators:

  1. H!P Chocolate: This artisanal chocolate brand has carved a niche in the vegan dessert market. H!P’s commitment to high-quality ingredients and ethically sourced cocoa has garnered a loyal following.
  1. Upcircle: Even beauty brands are following the trend with start-up Up circle, diverting away from the usual derived from animal ingredients and using only Vegan and cruelty free ingredients to make their skincare products.

What ethical media can I read to learn more?

Our favourite ethical media is providing insight and education on a meat and dairy free diet, and how you can take steps towards adopting a vegan diet.

From The Guardian, talking about the benefits of a vegan diet to our environment, Treehugger, informing consumers of how vegan products are made, Livefrankly showcasing London’s best vegan restaurants or even something as simple as the best of vegan, so that you can try out some tasty vegan recipes yourself!   

In summary

The growth of a meat and dairy diet reflects a shift in our collective consciousness towards more ethical, sustainable, and healthier choices. With the mounting evidence of its positive impact on the environment and personal well-being, the choice to become vegan, or even a simple choice to substitute meat for their alternatives becomes an obvious one.

Through working with The GoodNet, brands can reach ethical consumers who are x4 time more likely to be interested in meat free alternatives, and a huge 60% of our audience are more likely to be interested in vegan products than the national average.

What is Ethical Media

As an ethical media and intelligence company, we often get asked about what we mean by “Ethical Media.” In this post, we’ll explain the concept, how we measure it, and why it’s valuable to brands.

What is Ethical Media?

At the GoodNet, we define Ethical Media as publishers who produce content that encourages ethical living and operates ethically.

There are two parts to this sentence, both equally important, so let’s explain this a little further.

“produce content that encourages ethical living…”: We firmly believe that the media industry’s biggest opportunity to create a healthy planet is its unique power to influence consumer behavioural change and encourage millions of people to live more sustainable and ethical lifestyles. Publishers who produce content that inspires and educates people to live Greener, Healthier and Fairer lives are playing a crucial role in positively shaping people’s behaviour.

“Operates ethically”: This refers to whether a publisher operates their business in an ethical manner. This encompasses everything from implementing inclusive practices on employment, to transparently reporting their environmental impact, to measuring the carbon emissions of the ads they put on their websites.

For a publisher to be considered ethical media, they must meet both criteria.

For example, if a publisher produces content that promotes health and wellness but conducts business practices that harm the environment more than similar-sized companies, they wouldn’t be considered ethical media. Likewise, a publisher with a low carbon emissions count but content that spreads hate wouldn’t meet the criteria.

To be clear, we’re not just talking about what some might consider “purist” publishers like (which, by the way, is a great site). Ethical Media includes publishers of all shapes and sizes from various categories, such as fashion, lifestyle, news, food, and B2B publications. More on this later.

How do we measure how Ethical a media company is?

While our definition is concise, determining whether a publisher is ethical requires analysing multiple data sources. This encompasses a variety of areas where a range of different publisher types excel.

The Guardian and Immediate Media (whose sites include BBC Good Food) operate their businesses in an ethical manner – independent shows that. While publishers such as Discover Magazine and National Geographic have low carbon emissions per ads delivered. Marie Claire and Mind Body Green are good examples of sites that produce content that encourages people to adopt sustainable habits, while Refinery29 delivers and audience a valuable audience who are interested in living ethical lifestyles.

These are not niche publishers for the die-hard climate activist. They are quality lifestyle and interest sites that promote ethical living in a responsible manner, wherever someone is on their sustainable lifestyle journey.

Why is Ethical Media valuable to brands?

3 reasons…..

1. It is a way to reach a valuable ethical audience:

Advertising on ethical publishers enables brands to connect with an audience that values ethical choices, from opting for eco-friendly cars to sustainable cosmetics, vegan food, and more. For brands in these sectors, this audience is your core customer base, akin to how fashion brands must be on

2. It provides high quality inventory

There’s a clear correlation between ethical publishers and high-quality ad inventory. Ethical publishers tend to deliver high viewability and attention metrics, low fraud levels, and strong performance results.

3. It enables brands to achieve great campaign results while doing Good

Investing in Ethical Media means that your ad budget has a positive impact on the planet and society. Your campaigns will produce fewer carbon emissions, supporting publishers who drive positive behavioural change. These publishers encourage actions like recycling, caring for one’s health, donating to charity, promoting empathy, championing equal rights, and caring for both people and the planet.

By choosing Ethical Media, brands can connect with an engaged audience, benefit from high-quality inventory, and make a positive impact on the world through their campaigns. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Campaign Co2 emissions: How we reduced them by over 60%

At The GoodNet we often talk about delivering our customers Good Outcomes, which means increasing their campaign performance whilst reducing its impact on the planet. This is rooted in the idea that sustainability shouldn’t be a trade-off; that it’s possible for marketing spend to fulfil a brand’s objectives, whilst also doing good in the world.

For us, doing good is ultimately rooted in the idea that ad spend can influence consumer behaviour for the better. However, we’re also extremely mindful of the direct Co2 impact that digital advertising has, and we are strong champions of the drive to decarbonize.

To that end, every campaign The GoodNet runs is carbon neutral, (and has been since we began working with our carbon measurement partner, Scope3, in late summer 2022). Clients don’t need to opt in, it’s simply baked into the DNA of how we operate.

Part of this carbon neutrality is about removing campaign emissions in a responsible way through Gold Standard projects. However, the more important part is in the efforts we make to reduce the Co2 emissions of our network, and this is an area where we have made fantastic progress.

A few numbers… since August we have reduced our gCo2PM (grams of carbon per thousand ad impressions) by over 60%. In fact, our network’s gCo2PM is 50% lower than the UK market average. In practical terms that means that in Q1 alone we saved over 50 tonnes of Co2, equivalent to the annual emissions of six family homes. This flies in the face of an assumption sometimes made that mid to long tail publishers are worse from a carbon perspective. This can certainly be true, but is certainly not always the case.

We achieved these reductions in a few different ways. Firstly, we used the data to make product level decisions about which publishers to include in our network and removing those who didn’t meet our standard. Secondly, on every campaign we continually optimise mid-flight towards the highest possible performance and lowest gCo2PM. For example, on a recent campaign for an insurance company, emissions dropped from 30% under the market average at the start of the month to 80% lower by the end.

But this is a nuanced subject as well. There are publishers within our network whose emissions are higher than average, but whose content we think is incredibly valuable in inspiring and educating people to live more sustainable lives. In these cases, the public service and greater good of the content outweighs the Co2PM, and we look to work with them to improve their ad stacks for the future. Conversely, we don’t believe that a publisher with a low gCo2PM whose content actively undermines or works against a sustainability agenda, can ever be considered ‘green media’.

We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, but realise there is still a long way to go. In 2023 we’ll continue to reduce the average emissions of our network, as well as evolving our portfolio of carbon removal partners.

What Do Ethical Consumers Want?

What Do Ethical Consumers Want?

Earth Day raised awareness about the state of our planet and what we can do to help it, making sustainability a priority for many people. The advertising and business press provided some insightful reports on people’s attitudes and behaviours toward being more sustainable.

Below is a collection of our favourite learnings, along with links to the actual reports.

  1. Adoption of sustainable lifestyles is on the rise.

Deloitte’s sustainable lifestyle report shows that people are embracing sustainable behaviours in many aspects of their lives. While recycling and reducing food waste are the most popular behaviours, limiting single-use plastic, reducing the amount of new product purchases, and reducing meat and animal products are the fastest-growing habits. Deloitte also looked at what is important to people when buying brands and products.

They found that people consider the following sustainable and ethical values most important when choosing brands/products:

  • Producing sustainable packaging and products
  • Reducing waste in the manufacturing process
  • Committing to ethical working practices
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Respect for human rights

Full report here

  1. Sustainability-marketed products occupy 17% of the consumer-packaged goods market and are growing faster than non-sustainability marketed products.

NYU Stern’s Sustainable Market Share Index found that sustainability-marketed products grew 2.7x faster than products not marketed as sustainable. These products also command an average 28% price premium, which shows that many people are willing to pay more for a product that is kinder to the planet. Brands are reacting to this demand by producing more sustainable products; 1 in every 2 new products that were introduced to the CPG market in 2021 communicated a sustainable benefit.

Full report here

  1. People want both sustainability and affordability.

We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting everyone in different ways. You would be forgiven for thinking that people abandon sustainable living habits during challenging economic times, but Capgemini’s Today’s Consumer report shows that isn’t always the case. The study found that people are still very much committed to being more sustainable but are trying to balance that ambition with their financial reality. 54% of consumers value affordability over sustainability, meaning that 46% feel the opposite. Capgemini advised brands to lead with purpose to manage the growing tension between affordability and sustainability, recommending tactics such as value-led loyalty schemes and re-evaluating the price of sustainable products.

Full report here

  1. Utilities, food and travel are the sectors where people are looking to be more sustainable with their spending.

PDI Technologies’ Business of Sustainability Index report outlined utilities, food and restaurants, fuel stations, and hotels as the top categories where people are most likely to make sustainable purchase choices. They also found that loyalty/rewards schemes would drive adoption of sustainable products.

Full report here

  1. Consumers do not understand some of the newer sustainability terms and want brands to use clear language.

Economists, sustainability advocates and brands are increasingly using terms like “circular economy,” “regenerative agriculture,” and “carbon neutral” in sustainability communications. The National Retail Federation’s study shows that few people understand these terms; 11% are familiar with “circular economy,” 13% with “regenerative agriculture,” and 34% with “carbon neutral.” They encourage using more familiar and simple terms such as “recyclability,” which are understood by a significantly larger proportion of society.

Full report here

  1. Certifications matter more than ever, and brands should use them.

BCorp, Fairtrade, Planet Mark, and other independent certifications act as kitemarks of sustainable and ethical practices. The Shelton Group’s research shows that these marks influence product purchase and build trust in brands, with 87% of people saying certifications are important when purchasing products. Such certifications can act as shortcuts for people to choose a brand and have confidence that it is ethical.  Brands that have such certifications should ensure these marks play a prominent role in their advertising and packaging.

Full report here

“Consumers care about sustainability and they back it up with their wallets”…

So said McKinsey when they released the learnings from a joint study undertaken with Nielsen IQ that examined the explosion of interest from consumers in environmentally and socially responsible brands and products.

McKinsey and NielsenIQ analysed 5 years of sales data covering 44,000 brands and identified 93 different ESG-related claims. The analysis revealed a clear link between ESG-related claims (e.g. animal welfare, environmental sustainability, organic-farming methods, planet-based, social responsibility and sustainable packaging) and consumer spending.

This news was music to our ears here at The GoodNet, and we’ve had a good look at the report.

Here are six things we learned..

1. Consumers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability: The report found that nearly 60% of consumers globally are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact. This means that companies who prioritise sustainable practices are likely to attract and retain more customers in the long run.

2. Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products: According to the report, around 45% of consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. This suggests that companies that invest in sustainable production methods and materials may be able to command a price premium for their products.

3. This applies to brands of all sizes. Smaller brands achieved disproportionate growth in 59% of categories, while larger brands did so in 50%. Established products making ESG-related claims outperformed established products without them in 68% of categories. Private-label products that made ESG-related claims seized more than their expected share of growth in 88% of categories, suggesting consumers may be eager to support affordable ESG-friendly products.

4. Less-common ESG-related claims are associated with higher growth rates than more common claims. This suggests brands can successfully use their sustainability initiatives and positioning as a means of differentiation. Products that highlighted the least common ESG-related features (such as “vegan”) grew 8.5% more than peers that didn’t make such claims.

5. Combining multiple ESG-related claims is associated with higher growth rates. Products with multiple types of claims grew twice as fast as those with only one. However, companies must back these claims with genuine actions that have a meaningful ESG impact to avoid greenwashing. The study suggests that a multiplicity of claims made by a product may correlate with authentic ESG-related behaviour on the part of the brand, and brands should reflect on their commitment to ESG practices holistically.

6. Sustainable practices can boost customer loyalty: Consumers are increasingly loyal to companies that prioritize sustainability. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand if they believe it is making a positive impact on society and the environment.

Overall, the McKinsey report highlights the growing importance of sustainability for consumers and the potential benefits for companies that prioritise sustainable practices. By taking meaningful action on sustainability and effectively communicating their efforts (while complying with appropriate legislation such the ASA’s Green Claims Code), companies can differentiate themselves from competitors and build lasting customer loyalty.

Read the full report here.

Influencing consumer behaviour is the ad industry’s climate responsibility

I’m writing this on a day when the temperature in London will nudge over 40°c, when the news is full stories of wildfires, droughts and collapsing glaciers, and the Secretary General of the United Nations has warned that humanity faces ‘collective suicide’. In the face of such tangible signs of climate crisis it’s more important than ever that every industry, media included, thinks deeply about the ways in which they contribute to this situation and how they can take action.

There’s no doubt that the advertising industry is taking steps in the right direction. Agencies and publishers are creating new sustainability-focused roles, the Green Claims Code aims to eradicate misleading environmental claims, and GroupM’s new Global Decarbonisation Framework appears to be both far-reaching and diligent. There are many knowledgeable and engaged people within media who are genuinely working to make things better. However, there is also a danger of this being treated as an ‘industry problem’, much like viewability or brand safety; as something to be measured, fixed and managed on a campaign-by-campaign basis.

Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that topics such as viewability are unimportant. Clients should of course receive value for money. But sustainability is a problem with sweeping real-world effects. The price of getting it wrong is not merely a drop in campaign performance; it’s more carbon in the atmosphere, more plastic in the oceans, more waste into landfill. And because the stakes are so high it requires us to think broadly and holistically about the effect our industry has.

Much of the work being done at present is focused on carbon calculators of various stripes, which measure the emissions created by advertising campaigns themselves. This is, of course, critical (every campaign run with The GoodNet is carbon neutral; independently measured and compensated in partnership with Scope3). Without such measurement it’s impossible to discern the ways in which emissions from advertising can be reduced and offset. It’s important that such measurement is standardised across media owners and channels, but in general carbon calculation is an important step in dealing with advertising’s Scope 3 emissions (those generated indirectly by the supply chain, rather than directly by the advertiser, agency or publisher themselves).

But there is real risk that if our industry focuses on carbon calculation, to the exclusion of all else, it ends up in a place where sustainability can be ‘ticked off’, whilst the bigger picture is missed. If our industry is serious about making a practical, substantial contribution to the challenges facing this planet we need to think about the ways in which we influence people’s behaviour at mass scale towards more sustainable modes of living. You may well have seen the estimate from Purpose Disruptors that advertising adds 28% to the carbon footprint of every person in the UK. But it’s worth noting that this number is rooted in the effect advertising has on purchase behaviour, rather than energy costs of ad campaigns alone. This shows the huge influence our industry has on people’s behaviour, and the opportunity it has to change that behaviour for the better.

Embed from Getty Images

Some of this is about media choice. Now, I understand that advertisers are reluctant to weigh in on the editorial positioning of media owners. But in truth they already do, at the extremes. The whole idea behind Stop Funding Hate is that a brand’s ad dollars shouldn’t fund digital outlets that spread hatred and misinformation. We believe that there is a higher bar to aspire to here; where brands can look to achieve their campaign outcomes whilst investing into media that genuinely encourages and inspires people to make positive changes in their day to day lives.

The alternative is dispiriting: a scenario in which a platform could be included on ‘green’ plans because they are offsetting campaign emissions to make their media ‘net zero’, and all the while publishing content that exhorts people to carry on as usual.

The truth is that advertising is uniquely placed to influence consumer behaviour: directly through the products that brands inspire us to buy, and indirectly through the content that is funded by those ad dollars. And the good news is that if our industry can influence people’s behaviour, that means we can influence it for the better.

Measuring and manging the carbon emissions of ad campaigns is a critically important, and it’s a topic that deserves all the time, attention and airtime it’s getting. But advertising can make a significant, practical, and positive difference to our planet and its population in ways that go far beyond that. It’s a route for brands to promote more ethical product options, from sustainably produced food or fashion to green investment portfolios. It’s a means of funding publishers whose content inspires and educates people to live more sustainably. It could be amongst the most powerful tools in existence for changing behaviour in the right direction.

The risk is that our carbon calculators let us tick that sustainability box whilst missing the bigger opportunity to play a vital role in helping drive change for the benefit of both people and planet.