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Eco-Friendly Sites On The Wane; ‘Thinking Green’ Means Something Different These Days

Just a year ago, when the economic outlook was a lot brighter, web publishers began jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon. A Mediaweek piece checks in now that things appear a bit bleaker and finds that some of the major sites are wilting.

The bandwagon gets crowded: In tapping environmentally-related content, large publishers picked up on what seemed like a sure trend to attract younger, affluent users. Some of the biggest examples included Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive’s environmental shopping site Sprig, Hearst’s eco-lifestyle site, *Discovery’s* acquisition of Treehugger and Sundance’s mini-site The Green. *Yahoo* and MSN also joined in, growing their own green channels as well, as did a number of smaller companies such as’s Lime Media and social net Zaadz, as well as Cleantech’s

Bloom is off the rose: In terms of traffic, results are mixed at best. MSN Green has about 1 million uniques, according to Nielsen Online, while Yahoo Green passed 3.8 million uniques but hasn’t been able to maintain those heights. The publishers are faring even worse. Hearst’s Daily Green had a paltry 200,000 uniques in August, according to *comScore* data. Other sites that received a good deal of attention last year, like Sprig and Lime remain below Nielsen’s reporting threshold.

Different shade of green: Lisa Tiedt, director of MSN Green, tells Mediaweek that its success has been due to recognizing the shift away from an altruistic sensibility to one that focuses on a more personal green — such as users worried about the high cost of gas an electricity. While there are still plenty of diehard environmentalists out there, there are more “medium green” users. And so “the conversation has evolved,” Tiedt says.

2 Responses to “Eco-Friendly Sites On The Wane; ‘Thinking Green’ Means Something Different These Days”

  1. Great article David. The best green content resides in smaller sites, not on Yahoo or MSN, that's why the numbers aren't showing up there. I can tell you that SustainLane Media has over 100 websites now making up the largest Green Ad Network ( in the US, and we reach over 15 million users in the green space every month. When I look across at our inventory, I see that it is growing, reflecting the increasing number of pageviews of the INDUSTRY, v. the few destination sites listed in this article. The green sector really is booming when you look at it like this, and top tier advertisers are putting out large RFPs in the space precisely because the marketplace is growing at double-digit percentage points.

    Our definition of "green" includes 10 channels, ranging from home and garden, to nutrition, to exercise, and green cars. Our advertisers, GM, Honda, Visa, BofA, Tom's of Maine, REI and many other top tier companies seeking to build brand in front of this audience, want to be placed beside our partner sites' high quality editorial, so all these sites have a future because our ad network will continue to fill their pages with premium advertisers going forward. It is true that these green sites are small, but they are great, and that's why approaching them through a premium vertical like ours is a good idea. We bring 150M monthly pageviews to the agencies, and because we vetted out the best properties, we have great CTRs, and CPAs, which advertisers demand. The best content resides on all these small sites, because the sector is still new, and the "practioners" if you will, are small publishers who know a ton about the area they are writing about. It's a very fragmented space, and will remain that way for some time to come because the ideas are still sprouting.

    Green is not dead, it's just beginning.

    James Elsen President and CEO SustainLane