Environmental impact assessment of online advertising Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2018

start page

  • 177

end page

  • 200


  • 73

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0195-9255


  • There are no commonly agreed ways to assess the total energy consumption of the Internet. Estimating the Internet's energy footprint is challenging because of the interconnectedness associated with even seemingly simple aspects of energy consumption. The first contribution of this paper is a common modular and layered framework, which allows researchers to assess both energy consumption and CO(2)e emissions of any Internet service. The framework allows assessing the energy consumption depending on the research scope and specific system boundaries. Further, the proposed framework allows researchers without domain expertise to make such an assessment by using intermediate results as data sources, while analyzing the related uncertainties. The second contribution is an estimate of the energy consumption and CO(2)e emissions of online advertising by utilizing our proposed framework. The third contribution is an assessment of the energy consumption of invalid traffic associated with online advertising. The second and third contributions are used to validate the first. The online advertising ecosystem resides in the core of the Internet, and it is the sole source of funding for many online services. Therefore, it is an essential factor in the analysis of the Internet's energy footprint. As a result, in 2016, online advertising consumed 20-282 TWh of energy. In the same year, the total infrastructure consumption ranged from 791 to 1334 TWh. With extrapolated 2016 input factor values without uncertainties, online advertising consumed 106 TWh of energy and the infrastructure 1059 TWh. With the emission factor of 0.5656 kg CO(2)e/kWh, we calculated the carbon emissions of online advertising, and found it produces 60 Mt CO(2)e (between 12 and 159 Mt of CO(2)e when considering uncertainty).


  • Telecommunications


  • internet energy consumption; co2 emission; online advertising; invalid traffic