Interview with Fern Potter, SVP of Product and Partnerships, Multilocal

Member Content

Fern Potter, SVP of Product and Partnerships at Multilocal Media, talks about the dawn of sustainable private marketplaces (PMPs) and the future of sustainability in advertising.

Welcome, Fern. Before we dive into the topic, please tell us more about your role at Multilocal.

 I joined Multilocal at the beginning of 2023. My primary responsibility has been making sure that as a technology and service provider in a fast-moving industry, we remain at the forefront of our customers’ minds and respond to changing needs. For the most part, I’ve been helping to develop partnerships with publishers, data providers, brands, agencies and digital sustainability platforms like Cedara.

So let’s talk about your new sustainable PMP, CarbonSmart. What is the idea behind this solution, and why now? 

In the programmatic industry, trillions of bid impressions happen every day – which comes at a cost to the environment. Research suggests that a typical online ad campaign emits around 5.4 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to 1.09 grams of CO₂ for each impression. Across even a short period of time, these numbers get huge, fast. 

In the EU, corporate sustainability reporting is coming into play, putting pressure on all departments, including marketing, to reduce these emissions. 

We wanted to develop a solution that would help significantly reduce the carbon impact of programmatic advertising, so we built a dedicated sustainable PMP solution. The idea of CarbonSmart is to deliver the performance everyone enjoys from a PMP but with an average 90% reduction in wasteful bid transactions.

We also partnered with the carbon intelligence platform Cedara to validate the efficacy of our solution. For instance, if we reduce bids in a given campaign, we can confidently say that we’re also reducing 80% of the associated carbon emissions.

So, what exactly makes CarbonSmart different from regular PMPs?

Firstly, PMP’s can be considered more sustainable than accessing inventory via the OMP, since the curation of domains reduces ad wastage by packaging together relevant data, supply, and media – successfully identifying sites generating less than 1kg of carbon per month across all markets and verticals. 

CarbonSmart works by adding a layer of optimisation on top of the PMP, which we call Active Curation. The technology works by eliminating unnecessary bid requests and maintaining impression delivery and performance while significantly reducing carbon emissions. 

Through our partnership with Cedara, we can measure the carbon reduction campaigns achieve when they have CarbonSmart implemented – by calculating the kilobyte value of data transfers eliminated from the transactions, as well as their associated carbon emissions. 

The other difference between standard PMPs and CarbonSmart-driven PMPs is the monetary cost. Some providers tout their sustainable methods of service delivery as a luxury, meaning it comes at an additional cost. But that’s not the way the industry should be. With Multilocal, sustainability comes as standard. 

Who do you think would benefit the most from using sustainable PMP technology?

Any businesses in the ad industry who are committing to initiatives like Ad Net Zero would benefit from the technology. As mentioned, it offers marketers a way to reduce the carbon emissions of their PMP programmatic efforts by an average of 80%, which can have an immediate and long-term impact on reaching carbon-related goals. 

So it’s specifically aimed at brands, advertisers and agencies with a sustainability agenda/mission and for delivering on ESG objectives. But it will also enable DSPs and SSPs to make considerable cost savings through the reduction of bid transactions, while delivering a more sustainable marketplace to direct clients. 

This all sounds pretty innovative. Before you leave, what do you think the future holds for the advertising industry?

Of course, the first step has always been acknowledging the problem. Historically, it was perhaps easier for the industry to ignore the environmental impact of advertising because it all felt quite abstract. These days, not only do we know it has a huge impact, but we can now measure it accurately. And with measurement comes accountability – and the opportunity to counter bad practices.

Ad Net Zero has provided a much-needed impetus to help jump-start the industry into committing to tackle climate change, while the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) has put together the world’s first cross-industry action guide to sustainable media for advertisers. As initiatives and resources continue to emerge, I’m optimistic that we as an industry will be able to make a lot of tangible changes in the near future. 

To learn more about sustainable marketplace curation services, visit