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This 61 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 61 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
Should a Government Site Use AdSense?
dibbern2




msg:3658211
 5:05 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had dinner last night with a relative who is chief of a large department in a midwestern county. He has been the moving force behind their website, which serves public records as well as information about services, schedules, contacts, etc.

They have reached a traffic level of 1 million visits per month, and its a very regular stream: no peaks and valleys. My relative (and several county commissioners) are interested in revenue possibilities from the site. The proceeds would go to paying for the development and maintainance of the website, with any extra $$ --if there were some-- to the department's general budget.

They have looked at trying to sell direct ads, but they are learning that you can't just ask the IT people to suddenly become marketers and salespeople. So, that route doesn't seem to be a good choice.

My thoughts were how nicely AdSense could fit this situation. I can see how local attorneys, accountants, real estate services, and the like would make a market that AdSense could serve to the county's web pages.

On the other hand, there could be real public relations trouble if the ads served were from bogus or otherwise undesirable businesses. I am (kind of) confident that careful management (perhaps every day) of the AdSense system on these pages could minimize these troubles.

What do you think? Would you be offended if your local government website started serving ads alongside the information about the city or county? Would it be much different from the privatization of government services that is becoming popular these days? Would there be potential for any serious problems? Does anyone know of a city, county or state already doing this?

Thank you for your thoughts.

 

wyweb




msg:3658835
 11:17 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

And college chicks playing softball today. Can't beat that.

Anyone trying to sue the government is in for a long haul to begin with. On grounds like this I wouldn't even try though.

kaz




msg:3658836
 11:19 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

ever seen the nike logo on a state college university field?

dibbern2




msg:3658853
 12:25 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Cities and counties sell advertising all the time. Its called billboards, and their market is the people who travel on county/city owned roads. Where I live, the town gets about $50K/year/per sign. Thats serious money (as if that matters).

Government owned transportation systems sell ads on the sides of buses, in stations, and on bustops.

There are many more examples, but the point is: your government is already in the ad business.

netmeg




msg:3658964
 5:08 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have to spend a lot of time on city, township, village and county websites in my state. Tons of tiny little local government sites have AdSense on them; many of them also have AdSense for Search. (An amazing number of them use free hosting services that have ads on them as well) Never really struck me as off putting or unusual. I don't think I'd be entirely comfortable seeing ads on my state government site (heck, MY site has a link there, but it's not a paid link or ad, it's considered a resource) Now that I think of it though, my state sponsors a tourism site that has had ads on it at various points in time. So I dunno.

incrediBILL




msg:3659270
 5:23 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Mildly amusing thread because government already takes ads such as those roadside clean-up signs where your clean stretch of road is "sponsored" by some company.

What about all those government owned stadiums such as Candlestick Park now known as Monster Park, it's advertising.

You mean local accountants, attorneys, etc. opening AdWords accounts so their ads would appear on the county's website? If Google comes up with a way to make that happen, let me know.

It's called site targeting and AdSense now has a control panel that allows you to manage ads targeting your site.

pageoneresults




msg:3659275
 5:31 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

But wait, there are restrictions on the .gov domain and advertising...

Gov Internet Program Guidelines
[dotgov.gov...]

No non-Government Advertisements: A Gov Internet domain may not be used to advertise for private individuals, firms, or corporations, or imply in any manner that the government endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity, or service.

So this...

My thoughts were how nicely AdSense could fit this situation. I can see how local attorneys, accountants, real estate services, and the like would make a market that AdSense could serve to the county's web pages.

... would be in direct conflict with the .gov guidelines. The .gov Registrar will revoke your domain if you cross the line.

The actual suspension of a domain without concurrence of a registrant requires the internal GSA approval at the Senior Executive level. Generally, for GSA initiated suspesions, the suspension will become effective 3 hours to 24 hours after notification of the points of contacts (POCs), depending on the severity of the issue. The notification of the contacts is the time at which one of the URL points of contact is contacted or the time that the voice and email messages are sent to all contacts, which ever is first. This provides an opportunity for the registrant to remediate the issue to avoid suspension. The RRA will review the site to see if the policy violation has been remediated prior to the suspension.

I do believe you'll want to advise them on other methods of generating revenue. The .gov TLD is not for advertising and/or generating revenue of this nature.

They have looked at trying to sell direct ads, but they are learning that you can't just ask the IT people to suddenly become marketers and salespeople. So, that route doesn't seem to be a good choice.

Not a good choice at all since it violates the .gov guidelines. They should be happy that they failed in that area or the RRA may have been on their back big time and suspended the domain if remediation did not occur within 24 hours.

My relative (and several county commissioners) are interested in revenue possibilities from the site. The proceeds would go to paying for the development and maintainance of the website, with any extra $$ --if there were some-- to the department's general budget.

The very first thing "they" should do is read the guidelines for the TLD for which they have control of "before" they get themselves in trouble...

Gov Internet Program Guidelines
[dotgov.gov...]

A .gov TLD is an "Official Destination". You don't see Ads outside the Courthouse (on Government property) for Attorney Services do you? Imagine a .gov promoting a local SEO Firm. What happens when that SEO Firm decides to do something against SE guidelines and get all their clients penalized? ;)

mayest




msg:3659286
 6:05 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

pageoneresults, our (I'm not the OP) city/county government site is a .org, not a .gov. There's no AdSense on the site, but there are a few links that I suspect are probably paid. Not sure about that, though. Maybe the OP's government is also a .org? Do they have the same restrictions?

pageoneresults




msg:3659295
 6:12 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Do they have the same restrictions?

No they do not. The .org TLD is a public domain and is pretty much in the same boat with .com, .net and all the others that are "up for grabs".

Would you be offended if your local government website started serving ads alongside the information about the city or county?

That and the title of this topic...

Should a Government Site Use AdSense?
[webmasterworld.com...]

... leads me to believe that the OP is referring to a .gov TLD.

webfoo




msg:3659298
 6:22 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

I 100% agreee with vincevincevince.

pageoneresults pointed out that it is a violation of federal law to advertise private companies on a .gov website.

Violation or not, it's still bad form for a government to be advertising private companies. As already mentioned, it would be OK if one government agency was advertising via another - as in police department advertising "Click-it or Ticket" through the park service.

I have the same opinion about private companies advertising on public busses, sports fields, etc.

Someone already mentioned that any "extra money" would be spent, and your taxes would not be reduced. That's 100% true, already proven by busses / sports fields.

Private ads on a government website is sure to get you sued - on what basis? Violation of the .gov registrar.

As for .com, .net, or .org, the government should not be using these. They are a government, and ought to be required to use a .gov domain. Anybody could put up "samplecounty.com" and start collecting "taxes" online. Only governments can register .gov domains, so there would be no question whether it is real or phishy.

This is government corruption of the free-market system that makes our country such a great place to live. Don't do it.

zett




msg:3659318
 6:51 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Privacy.

Google does not need to know which government sites (paid by the taxman) I visit. If noone else respects privacy, I think the government should.

Also, from a practical point of view, the targeting might be quite a challenge.

dibbern2




msg:3659336
 7:12 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

pageone raises good points about the tld. For the record, I don't know wether this is a .gov or something else.

As for the moral questions, that's ultimatly for the site owner to decide. They have been conducting focus group research to discover opinions, and it is looking favorable to usinig the ads. Many people using the site are, after all, also interested in help from a real estate appraiser, tax specialist, etc.

Re: the legal issues and law suits, IMHO there's no case to made, except the .gov problem, and thats a very strong one, if it is indeed an issue. The rest seem very questionable.

I think there are practical issues, and good possibilities that they can be resolved. As mentioned in one post above, the route to follow is testing, and going forward with what is learned.

mayest




msg:3659348
 7:24 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

As for .com, .net, or .org, the government should not be using these. They are a government, and ought to be required to use a .gov domain. Anybody could put up "samplecounty.com" and start collecting "taxes" online. Only governments can register .gov domains, so there would be no question whether it is real or phishy.

I agree with that. For whatever reason, my city/county (a very large midwestern/southwestern city) went with the .org (e.g., citygov.org note that they have the gov part in the domain :-).

Google does not need to know which government sites (paid by the taxman) I visit. If noone else respects privacy, I think the government should.

This same citygov.org site uses Google Analytics, so I guess if you visit then Google will know.

dibbern2




msg:3659351
 7:28 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wanted to add a thank you to everyone who has expressed an opinion or offered advice. I will pass along all the posts to my relative, and then it will be in the mysterious world of political decisions. I'd say anything could happen.

FYI, they have begun to monetize the site by charging convienence fees to access some county records.(The same records are available for free if you visit the courthouse in person.) That seems to be quite successful, and in my opinion, a reasonable approach to underwrite site costs.

dibbern2




msg:3659364
 8:02 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Its a dot org.

jhood




msg:3659530
 1:23 am on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

How is this different from local government plastering ads all over buses, subways and so forth? As for putting ads on police cars, why not? It would be a perfect place to advertise radar detectors. Would be a good place for defense lawyers to advertise too, come to think of it.

As for the fear that government has unlimited resources to hire the best Web designers, etc., it's hard to imagine any government doing anything well enough to have much of any kind of effect on anything.

webfoo




msg:3659534
 1:40 am on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

How is this different from local government plastering ads all over buses, subways and so forth?

It's not different - that's the problem. It's wrong for the government to be advertising private companies.

Its a dot org.

It doesn't matter what the TLD is, it's bad for the government to be advertising private companies with public funds.

Besides, the government doesn't need more money - they already have too much.

purplecape




msg:3660068
 5:08 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Re the US ski team: this is not a good example, because the US ski team is not a government entity. In the US (may be different in other countries), amateur sports are administered by independent, not-for-profit entities.

IMO, AdSense on a govt. web site might well be legal, but that doesn't matter--what would matter would be the political impact.

loner




msg:3660449
 1:42 am on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)


But wait, there are restrictions on the .gov domain and advertising...

Gov Internet Program Guidelines
[dotgov.gov...]

No non-Government Advertisements: A Gov Internet domain may not be used to advertise for private individuals, firms, or corporations, or imply in any manner that the government endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity, or service.

Thank you for pointing this out.

loner




msg:3660458
 1:55 am on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)


FYI, they have begun to monetize the site by charging convienence fees to access some county records.(The same records are available for free if you visit the courthouse in person.) That seems to be quite successful, and in my opinion, a reasonable approach to underwrite site costs.

Seems unfair to charge for something on the internet that is available for free in person. I'd think costs could be underwritten by making the records available for free on the web site, and using the money saved by letting the clerk go to seek other opportunities, then using their previous salary to subsidize the -unofficial- .TLD. If someone preferred not to use the web to access these records, then charge them a small fee, but large enough to pay for the paper used in providing a physical copy.

kaz




msg:3664965
 4:17 pm on Jun 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Since when is the government fair? I pay more taxes than most and receive less benefits than others.

Another example of government advertising at it's best, consider the roadside signs at each interstate exit which promotes the restuarants, gas stations and hotels at those locations. More government advertising!

Regarding the US Ski Team example, did you ever consider the reason they are independent is because they are fully funded by their sponsors. Of course, if they didn't have enough sponsors the US would still have an olympic team.

StoutFiles




msg:3664975
 4:22 pm on Jun 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Since when is the government fair? I pay more taxes than most and receive less benefits than others.

The richer you are the less benefits you need.

kaz




msg:3665100
 6:53 pm on Jun 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

The more you need benefits, the less likely you are to get a job. Maybe everyone who needs jobs/benefits should start promoting government advertising? Here is a start for those 'needing' -

[ussa.org...]

The primary responsibility of the Major Gifts Manager is to engage major donors and prospects on a face-to-face/personal basis, cultivate relationships, determine and engage natural supporters, track all donor/prospect interactions and solicit funds for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams. The Manager is responsible for ensuring that donors and prospects receive the highest level of service on a timely basis.

Fair? err, ummm....

vincevincevince




msg:3665476
 4:26 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Seems unfair to charge for something on the internet that is available for free in person.

Absolutely right. The free option should be the one which is automated, doesn't need a waiting room, chairs and air conditioning (i.e. the internet). Charge those who come in person to pay for the website if need be.

webfoo




msg:3665661
 11:58 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

My state's DMV now charges an extra $5 fee to conduct business in person. They ask that all business take place via internet, phone, or snail mail.

The 21st century is finally catching on ...

SlimKim




msg:3669248
 2:09 pm on Jun 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

[They could put ads on police cars]

Tim22 - you'll be unhappy to know this is already been done in my city in Arkansas. The black rear bumpers of squad cars carry white text from a local merchant sponsor :)

ronin




msg:3669803
 2:04 pm on Jun 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Unless governments (local or otherwise) have become the "rulers" of the people rather than the "representatives" of the people, then the whole legitimacy of government in modern, western democracy comes from the fact that government represents the people's interests. (If you prefer, it represents the interests of "the consumer", rather than the interest of "the corporation").

Consequently, if this is what their legitimacy rests on, they have no right to ever make any decisions in which the interests of the general public are not central.

An organisation which is funded (even partly) by advertising revenue cannot make decisions 100% of the time which remain wholly uninfluenced by commercial considerations.

At the very least, if there is to be commercial advertising on a government website it should be there only for as long as the majority of people consent to allow it to be there.

What a quaint idea of democracy I have!

UserFriendly




msg:3669883
 5:45 pm on Jun 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd be furious too, if it were my local or national authority.

Government is supposed to get its revenue from taxation, not by cosying up to corporate bodies.

dibbern2




msg:3669937
 7:16 pm on Jun 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

The free option should be the one which is automated, doesn't need a waiting room, chairs and air conditioning (i.e. the internet)...

But neither option is without signifigant costs. The web site, arguably costs more than a room and its furnishings. Seems to me you could make a case either way.

At the very least, if there is to be commercial advertising on a government website it should be there only for as long as the majority of people consent to allow it to be there.

Ideally, yes. But how could a government be effective if it posed every decision to a majority vote? I know its an absurb comment, but wouldn't we be having a referendum every day?

ronin




msg:3670069
 1:02 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

<offtopic>
But how could a government be effective if it posed every decision to a majority vote?

The question thrown up as a kneejerk defence by elected dictatorships down through the ages every time their degree of representativeness is questioned by the people.

I'll leave it to be discussed in another thread. >;->
</offtopic>

inactivist




msg:3670072
 1:23 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our Board of Education sells advertising space on the fences of the ball park. Is that any different?

YES. Those ads are under the complete control of the BoE. They don't go up until the ads are reviewed and approved.

You'd have to be ignoring the thousands of posts on WebmasterWorld to think that the webmaster will have any kind of real control over the kinds of ads Big G will deposit on the web site.

I can see the ads now:
- "Tax Ringtones"
- "Find New and Used Taxes on eBay!"

Advertiser block list? 200 blocked advertisers isn't a lot when dealing with this kind of thing, and, it's only useful after the damage has been done. Welcome to AdSense!

Ignoring all the other good reasons why this is a bad idea, there will be unacceptable/offensive ads on the government site if they use AdSense. End of story.

[edited by: tedster at 6:12 am (utc) on June 9, 2008]

dibbern2




msg:3670121
 4:10 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

No, its not the end of story.

[edited by: tedster at 6:12 am (utc) on June 9, 2008]

This 61 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 61 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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