In the past year, green-themed Web sites have sprung up like weeds. But perceived consumer enthusiasm for the green movement hasn't translated into major traffic for most publishers in this fledgling space, making some wonder whether the media business overestimated the trend. Meanwhile, publishers said that many consumers' interest in green has shifted this year from, "How can I save the planet?" to "How can I save some cash?"
In 2007 alone, both MSN and Yahoo unveiled green channels, while
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (Sprig.com) and Hearst (The Daily Green) launched standalone green content sites. Meanwhile, Discovery Communications snatched up Treehugger.com, former cable net/Web property Lime.com was sold to green retailer Gaiam, and a handful of green ad nets (Burst, SustainLane) popped up. Thus far, traffic reports for these properties are less than promising.
Initially, it appears as though the portals have scored the most success, with the 10-month old MSN Green approaching about 1million uniques, per Nielsen Online. Yahoo Green eclipsed 3.8 million users this past June according to Nielsen--though inexplicably, its traffic has recently tanked. Meanwhile, Sprig has yet to register with either researchers, while The Daily Green reached an anemic 200,000 uniques in August, according to comScore. Since its sale, Lime's audience has dived below Nielsen's reporting minimum.
Adam Seymour, vp, director of strategic communications at Optimedia, expects the category may be due for a shakeout. "It's difficult for these sites to really get the audiences they need and the premiums they want to charge," he said. "A lot of these sites are really tiny. It depends on how niche a client wants to go."