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WaPo to Shutter Green Site Sprig?

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NEW YORK Turning green into gold on the Web is proving more difficult than some media outlets had imagined. Case in point: Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive is planning to shut down its green-themed content site Sprig.com, according to sources.

WaPo officials 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. Company officials would not comment on a possible pending closure of the Sprig venue.

Sprig was launched in April 2007 as eco-themed content bloomed on the Web. In fact, the site went live one day after Hearst’s similarly targeted The Daily Green. Along with that property, it also faced competition from Yahoo and MSN’s green ventures, not to mention a slew of green ad networks like SustainLaine.

Sprig’s editorial content has been aimed at hip, eco-conscious female consumers -- 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 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 Bloomingdale's, as well as consumer packaged-goods providers like charter sponsor Hidden Valley Ranch. However, the company may have overestimated the size of its potential audience. Last year, Sprig was regularly failing to register in comScore and Nielsen Online’s monthly traffic reports. Currently, metrics firms Quantcast and Compete report Sprig’s audience as having fallen bellow 100,000 unique monthly users.

In addition, the economic downturn has likely made green consumerism less compelling. As of last fall, many sites in the category were recognizing a need to shift editorial focus.