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

This story was written by David Kaplan.
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 greensuch 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.

By David Kaplan