It appears as though turning green into gold on the Web is proving difficult. According to internal sources, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive is planning to shut down its green-themed content site Sprig.com.
Officials at The Washington Post Company would neither confirm nor deny the planned closure but provided the following statement: “The Sprig site remains live, but we are in the process of assessing how it fits into our portfolio of digital products.” Content on the site does not appear to have been updated in several days.
Sprig was launched in April of 2007 in the midst of a flood of new eco-themed content on the Web. In fact, the site went live just a day after Hearst’s similarly targeted The Daily Green and also faced heavy competition from Yahoo and MSN’s green ventures, not to mention a slew of green ad networks like SustainLaine.
Sprig’s editorial has been aimed at a hip, green-conscious female consumer–its original tagline was “stylish people are into green,” and officials initially compared it to Lucky magazine. Several of Sprig’s editorial staffers came from the now defunct Rodale title Organic Style.
At the time of Sprig’s launch, its founders were banking on a steady stream of advertisers pushing green product lines, including retailers like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales as well as consumer packaged goods products like charter sponsor Hidden Valley Ranch. However, the company may have overestimated the size of the green-interested audience. Last year, Sprig was regularly failing to register in comScore and Nielsen Online’s monthly traffic reports, and currently, metrics firms Quantcast and Compete each report Sprig’s audience as having fallen bellow 100,000 unique monthly users.
In addition, the economic downturn may have made green consumerism less compelling to many. As of last fall many sites in the category were recognizing a need to shift editorial focus (see this previous report on Adweek).