Ecosia, a not-for-profit search engine that uses ad generated revenue to fund planting trees, is set to get a visibility boost in Chrome. A change Google is making to its chromium engine will see it added as a default search engine choice in up to 47 markets for the version 81 release of Google’s web browser.
Ecosia will soon be included on Chrome’s default search engine list in several major markets, including the UK, US, France, and Germany — alongside the likes of Google Search, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo!
It’s the first time the not-for-profit search engine will have appeared in Chrome’s default search engine choice list. And while users of Chrome can always navigate directly to Ecosia to search, or download an extension to search via it directly in the browser’s URL bar, those active steps require prior knowledge of the product. Whereas being listed as a default option in Chrome means Ecosia will be put in front of people who aren’t yet familiar with it.
The Berlin-based search engine said Google Chrome’s selection of default search engines is based on search engine popularity rankings in different markets.
The full list of markets where it will be offered as a choice in the v81 release is Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Denmark, Ecuador, Spain, Faroe Islands, France, Guatemala, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Paraguay, Sweden, El Salvador, Taiwan, United States, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
The shift comes after what Ecosia said was a record year of usage growth for its search engine — with monthly active users rising from 8 million to 15 million during 2019.
The company dedicates 80% of advertising profits to funding reforestation projects in biodiversity hotspots around the world and says it has planted 86 million+ trees since it was founded back in 2009 — a total it’s expecting will grow as a result of Google’s decision to include Ecosia as a default choice.
Commenting in a statement Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll said: “Ecosia’s growth over the last year shows just how invested users are in the fight against the climate crisis. Everywhere, people are weighing up the changes they can make to reduce their carbon footprint, including adopting technologies such as Ecosia. Our addition to Chrome will now make it even easier for users to help reforest delicate, at-risk and often devastated ecosystems, and to fight climate change, just by using the internet.”
“It’s also good news for user choice and fairness,” he added, pointing to recent research which he said indicates that providing a choice of search engines has the potential to increase the collective mobile market share of Google alternatives by 300-800%.
“It’s important that there are independent players in the market that don’t just exist for profit. We put our profits into tree planting and we are also focused on privacy, so users can have a positive impact on the environment while having greater control over their personal information.”
The chromium update will also see rival search engines DuckDuckGo and Yahoo added as default in more markets when the v81 release of Chrome is pushed out.
These are the latest revisions to Chrome’s search engine defaults. But in a major shift this time last year Google quietly expanded the choice of search product in a way that gave the biggest single boost to the visibility of pro-privacy search engine rival DuckDuckGo.