We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities for our clients and big fans of ethical business practice so, when we became aware of Ecosia, a new-ish search platform that donates 80% of their ad profits to environmental charities, we took a keen interest.
We have a responsibility to our clients and are expected to deliver an ROI in one form or another so, before undertaking any paid search marketing, we dug into Ecosia to see how it ticks.
Ecosia does not have its own search engine. Bing provides the search results for Ecosia and also provides the paid search system to run adverts on Ecosia. Ecosia is basically a reseller for Bing that donates a profit share, which is not significantly different to what a lot modern energy companies do and better than just handing to shareholders.
I have no doubt that Bing is a powerful search engine and Ecosia’s advertising offering is already gaining massive traction with ethical brands and eco-aware users so, as a paid search marketer, it should be a bit of a no-brainer if you fall into those groups.
So why does it ring alarm bells for me? Well, the problem with Ecosia is not the click through rate; it’s the customer intent.
Ecosia are promoting the fact that, when you click on one of their ads, ‘you plant a tree’. Their core marketing is insisting that if users search through them and if they click on their ads, they are making a real positive impact on the environment.
And there’s the rub: If a person is using Ecosia with the mind set of ‘planting as many trees as possible’ then they will click the ads whether they are interested in the offering or not. You’ll get a fabulous CTR, but your paid ads will never convert as well as if they had appeared on Google or Bing. Ecosia confuses the customer intent so you are no longer showing ads only to people with a genuine interest, you are showing ads to people who are looking to plant trees. Expect high CTR and conversion rates to plummet.
On their FAQ’s, they do insist that they use anti-fraud software which will not count clicks which are not genuine. This will stop advertisers being charged for people blindly scatter-clicking all of the available ads to plant as many trees as possible, however I think this is only a small level of precaution and won’t address the bigger problem.
Ecosia might still have its uses, but it isn’t the easy-win that some would have you believe.
I really like the idea of Ecosia and I think what they are doing is fantastic. But if you are a marketer looking for some low-hanging fruit, consider the impact on your conversion rate & ROI before getting too excited about Ecosia.