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GAS Your Cause Marketing

By profession, Tal Ater is a web programmer and affiliate marketer. But by inclination he is a “treehugger,” and, how to put this? … a bit of a subversive.

Go to his website called Green Any Site (GAS) and drag his bookmarklet... also called Green Any Site... to your browser’s toolbar. When you press the resulting ‘Green This Purchase’ button every time you make a purchase online a donation is made to green cause. Right now it’s Conservation International, but in the months to come GAS will benefit a rotation of green causes.

How does it work? Well, many e-tailers have affiliate relationships with other websites. If you steer someone to the e-tailer through your site and that person buys something, then you get a referral fee. Amazon and all the other big e-tailers you can think of have affiliate programs. (Order one of the great books from the Amazon column to the right and you’ll see what I mean.)

Well GAS donates 100 percent of that referral fee to their green cause du Jour. Referral fees vary according to e-tailer, products, promotions, etc. so GAS can't list an amount at the time of purchase. But you can track total donation amounts on Tal's

See what I mean when I say Tal is a subversive? Consumption… usually thought of as un-green… generates a donation to a green cause.

I interviewed Tal about GAS.

I certainly don’t understand affiliate marketing very deeply, but it seems to me that in order to work that GAS needs to have existing affiliate relationships with basically every website with a shopping cart. What am I missing here?
Actually, that is exactly they way it works. We need to manually add support for each site, but because we use existing affiliate programs, and don’t have to negotiate new deals with retailers, adding support for each site takes about 10-20 minutes.

Every couple of days we go over a list of shopping sites people used GAS on the most, and we make sure to add them to the sites we support.

Every week we support more and more sites, and as long as we can green about 90% of the transactions our users make, I feel comfortable calling it Green Any Site.

But yes, it will always be true that sometimes you will use GAS on a site that we still don’t support. But even then, you’re still helping by letting us know about it (anonymously of course) and hopefully next time you shop there, it will be supported.

Doesn’t GAS have some hard costs; servers or AWS or something aside from your coding costs.
GAS is completely self-funded, and there are of course costs to maintain and develop it.

But it is my plan to make it completely sustainable in the near future, through two main methods:

Extremely targeted, ethical advertising at the time of purchase… Knowing what a user is about to buy and where he is about to buy it, is an amazing opportunity to advertise other products to him, and to help him make greener choices. This is one of our plans on how to not only raise money for the environment, but also help our users make smarter, greener buying decisions.

For example, when you’re about to buy a book online and click “green this,” you may see a small notice next to the GAS window suggesting you save an extra tree and buy the audio or e-book instead. This space may also be used for green tips such as suggesting places to recycle your old phone when you purchase a new one.

It should be noted, that GAS uses the data about a user’s purchase only for the duration of the transaction. No personally identifiable information is kept on a user’s shopping habits, in order not to intrude on his privacy.

Packaging and providing our technology for use by other non-profit and for-profit companies, so they can create their own version of GAS, completely branded to their charity, and benefiting different causes.

GAS currently benefits Conservation International. Are you likely to change that? Could it be multiple green charities?
Yes. Conservation International is the current beneficiary of our donations, and they were chosen after consulting with a number of prominent green bloggers. But they will not be the only ones.

Soon we will let our users nominate charities and vote on which charity they would like to benefit from GAS that month. We may support a different charity every month, or perhaps divide the donation among a few charities every month, depending on the amounts and what our community votes for.

How are you promoting GAS?
This is actually our weakest link right now. I am looking for opportunities to reach more people, and increase the number of users we have.

Why did you put together GAS? Do you get something out of GAS aside from the experience of building it?
I have always been a treehugger. When I first came up with the idea for GAS, I had every intention for it to be something I do in my spare time... My way of using my web skills to do something good for the planet.

But the more I worked on the site, the more I realized that besides doing a lot of good, GAS could also be a viable sustainable business.

These days, GAS has taken over my life as a full-time job, and it is my hope to see it profitable in the near future.

Couldn’t the methodology and the back end of GAS be used to benefit other causes. That is, couldn’t the United Negro College Fund (or any other a charity) promote this to their internal audience and have the proceeds benefit them?

Exactly. A part of my plan is to offer GAS as a hosted service to other organizations in different verticals, so that they could use it with their community and to benefit their cause.

Folks, web-enabled cause marketing is making some remarkable things happen. Like never before, it's time to cozy up to a programmer.


emarketed said…
Thanks for this great info!
Anonymous said…
This is illegal as per terms of most affiliate programs, since the user is already on their site etc.

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