Polly Gowers is the managing director of Everyclick, the UK-based search engine which gives away half of its gross revenues to good causes. Launched last year, it syndicates search results from Ask.com and is being used by several charities as a fundraising tool.
We asked Polly a few questions about how the company has been able to influence users’ search habits, and how its new round of funding is going.
Could you give us a quick summary of what
is and how you came up with the idea?
Everyclick.com is a search engine that gives half of its revenue to charity. Its technology has been specifically created to provide a sustainable no cost fundraising tool for all charities. It provides any internet user with a free and hassle-free way to raise money for the charity of their choice.
Everyclick.com was founded by myself and Julia Felton who used to run an SEM agency. Julia was also a volunteer fundraiser for Save the Children, I was constantly astounded at the work that went into running fundraising events and half jokingly suggested we should use search as a fundraising tool.
That throwaway remark has grown into a business that now provides a service that has the potential to provide all charities with a new and sustainable source of funding.
In June 2005 we launched everyclick.com a search engine that gives 50% of its revenues to charity. Reports suggest that it is already one of the busiest charity websites and possibly the fastest growing search engine in the UK.
What do you mean by '21st Century giving' and are there any other ways in which you see that being developed on the web?
21st Century Giving combines the technology of the 21st century with the more altruistic spirit of the age. Simply put, it is a way of using the new way in which marketing spend is consumed by an individuals activity and using the commissions it generates to benefit the charity of their choice rather than a single commercial brand.
The Red credit card has a similar altruistic concept, but the difference is that, with Red, the cause you are supporting is pre-defined and you need to spend money to raise money. Everyclick is different in that users do not need to spend any money - all they need to do is select their favorite charity and use everyclick.com as their preferred search engine.
We understand you’ve been looking to raise more funding yourselves. How is the second round going and what do you plan to use the money for?
To date we have raised very close to our target of £1.5m and we anticipate closing this round very shortly. We have a very loyal and supportive shareholder base.
We have raised the funding ourselves though Angel investors – we now have over 90 private shareholders.
The funding is enabling us to further develop the product and increase market share. The primary areas of spend focus on improving the user experience, increasing the RPC and increasing market share.
What are you seeing and aiming for in terms of average search values?
Our current average search value is 1.4p and rising. We supplement our PPC search revenue with tenancy advertising sales and specialist deals in the finance, travel and retail sector that mean that we can benefit from popular upstream searches though CPA deals. We are aiming to achieve an average search value of 2.5p by mid 2007.
Does the fact that they’re raising money for charity affect users' behaviour?
Yes and no - the way they use our search engine matches the way people use other search engines. However, the really exciting thing is that we are seeing fantastic user retention rates because of our user’s loyalty to the charity they are supporting.
How much have you raised for charity so far?
£104,000 has already been distributed to charity. Our revenue is increasing monthly. This is driven by both user uptake and the commercial brands that recognise the value of advertising with us and using our service within their company's CSR programme.
We look forward to having rising over £1million for charity in the near future.
What’s been the reaction of the other search engines?
I have met with Ask and Yahoo! in the US and they have been incredibly supportive of what we are doing. We now syndicate all our web search results from Ask.com.
Any plans for more/other partnerships with search engines?
We are very happy with our Ask relationship but to supplement our search results we are in the process of integrating a range of results from different content verticals (shopping, news, charity commission, financial services and travel) that widen and deepen the search experience.
We will always be interested to meet content providers to explore how we can combine their content with our service enhance the user experience and increase the RPC.
What’s your stance on mobile search - any plans for a mobile version?
This is one of the areas we are currently reviewing as we have no doubt it would be an incredibly exciting area for us to move into.