Ecosia is a search engine which donates 80% of their ad profits to charity. Powered by Bing and using their own algorithms, they display advertisers’ ads alongside organic search results. Ecosia claim that on average, every search raises 50 European cents. For every 56 searches they will plant a single tree.
You might have seen them all over Facebook promoting themselves in the below ad:
As a paid search marketer, this is a tricky one. I have no doubt that this is a powerful search engine and their libertarian advertising is already gaining massive traction.
My concern with Ecosia from a marketing perspective is that they are advertising the fact that when you click on their ads, ‘you plant a tree’. Their core marketing is insisting that if users search through them and if they click on the ads, they are making a real positive impact on the environment.
Let’s change scope here
How big do you expect the CTR to be? If a user is using Ecosia with the mind set of ‘planting as many trees as possible’ then paid ads will simply never perform as well as on Google or Bing. Customer intent is confusing, you are no longer showing ads only to people with a real intent, 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.
I really like the idea of Ecosia and I think what they are doing is fantastic. But as a marketer, before you get excited, just stop to think about your ROI.