Go Green with Ecosia: Eco-friendly Search Engine vs. Marketing Hyperbole

Go Green with Ecosia: Eco-friendly Search Engine vs. Marketing Hyperbole

An eco-friendly search engine is the latest buzz for the consumer who intends to go green in all aspects of her life. Ecosia makes it possible to rely on the dollars spent by companies involved in search engine marketing to donate in excess of 80 percent of its profit to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The remaining 20 percent fund the company’s overhead.
The concept is surprisingly simple: Ecosia partners with Yahoo and Bing. These online-search powerhouses offer sponsored links as well as standard search results. Pay-per-click advertising dollars fund this eco-friendly search engine.

The Fiscal Nitty-Gritty

After breaking down the number of clicks on sponsor and traditional search links, Ecosia estimates that it generates just about 0.13 Euro cents for each search. Approximating the donations it can make to the WWF with the averaged cost of protecting the rainforest – currently set at five Euros per hectare — the search engine estimates that each search saves roughly two square meters of rainforest.

Can Eco-Friendly Niche Marketing Really Let the Search Engine User Go Green?

A closer inspection of Ecosia warrants the caveat that the claims of saving actual rainforest land with each and every search fall into the realm of marketing hyperbole. Although only in existence since December of 2009, Ecosia thus far has only managed to actually donate the equivalent of $41,260 to the WWF.
Moreover, a snapshot of its activity actually shows that the vast majority of search engine users come from the Ecosia’s native Germany. The United States only provides a little more than six percent of registered searches. Canada barely has more than one percent of searchers using Ecosia at this time.

This showcases a two-fold problem with the eco-friendly claims that the go-green search engine currently makes to would-be searchers:

  1. To make an appreciable impact on the rainforest project by the WWF, Ecosia must court and obtain an international appeal that even woos Americans away from rival Google.
  2. To lend credence to the claim of saving actual land, the WWF would have to commit to not use the funds for anything other than hands-on rainforest saving projects that translate into actual acreage preserved. This eliminates the use of the funds for ancillary functions.
Go Green with Ecosia
Go Green with Ecosia

In the final review, Ecosia is an eco-friendly search engine alternative that lets the web surfer go green without actually spending a penny. This makes the use of marketing hyperbole a forgivable offense.

Gina Jessop
Written by: Gina Jessop