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Google AdSense Forum

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.

 

mayest




msg:3658244
 5:44 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Personally, I wouldn't be offended but I'm sure that a lot of people would be. I seem to recall several instances over the last 10 years or so where advertising has been added to government services and there was always an uproar.

For example, our mass-transit system added large ads to the sides of buses. Uproar, but the ads are still there. There was/is an educational TV channel that was pumped into schools all over the country (Channel One News). Uproar, but apparently the ads are still shown. There are, I'm sure, numerous other examples.

Point being, be very inconspicuous about it and be ready for some backlash. I'd have a well thought out explanation at the ready to deflect criticism. Maybe even add a page to the site that explains the purpose and benefit of the ads.

tim222




msg:3658251
 5:49 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

LOL. What's next? They can rename the busiest street to Wal-Mart Boulevard... or get corporate sponsors for government buildings (i.e., McDonald's City Hall). They could put ads on police cars.

Sigh... oh well, I guess it's just a sign of the times.

BrandNewDay




msg:3658290
 7:34 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I wouldn't be offended, but I also wouldn't be very happy about it.

Making money with Adsense is a business. People are making a living with it. It requires us to invest time and money in hosting, webdesign, content, etcetera. One makes these investments in order to get the best possible ads and as many clicks as possible in return.

And then some government comes along. They have limitless resources to buy expensive domain names, hire the best designers and writers. If we still don't visit their sites they throw in ton of money to buy traffic. The result is they will get the best ads on their sites. Paid for with tax payers money. If governments start running Adsense on their websites, they obstruct fair competition and the free market.

[edited by: BrandNewDay at 7:36 pm (utc) on May 24, 2008]

moTi




msg:3658303
 7:54 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

i'd be extremely offended. no ads on tax- and forced-fee-funded sites!
i wonder why this is allowed at all in your country.

Bddmed




msg:3658306
 7:59 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

The government should be independent and therefore cannot put any ads on their site promoting either 'store A' or 'store B' nor advertise for blue or green widgets.

Adsense is completely out of the question as there is no control over what's advertised.

I would consider this bad practice and actually would be offended.

Just IMHO.

willybfriendly




msg:3658316
 8:17 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can see it now

"Best County Commissioner
Buy local politicians now...
www.EBay.com"

Hobbs




msg:3658317
 8:20 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I could learn to live with it if it helped fund schools, hospitals, and lowered taxes, but thankfully Governments are too stupid and entangled in bureaucracy to actually make it work, plus they'd get banned for click fraud before their first PiP anyway.

rocco




msg:3658327
 8:44 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am observing governmental institutions trying to behave like businesses and trying to grow, but not using risk capital but tax money. They reach into private sectors and this is the worst thing that can happen IMO. Everything that can be handled by privates should be handled by privates. Of course ads on public websites should not be allowed to have ads.

farmboy




msg:3658357
 10:14 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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.

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.

I am (kind of) confident that careful management (perhaps every day) of the AdSense system on these pages could minimize these troubles.

How much would it cost to hire bureaucrats to monitor the site round the clock as compared to how much they would earn?

Would it be much different from the privatization of government services that is becoming popular these days?

Different. Very different. As different as night and day.

I could learn to live with it if it helped fund schools, hospitals, and lowered taxes,...

Government bodies don't lower taxes with new revenue, they just spend more.

FarmBoy

wyweb




msg:3658371
 11:03 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Should a Government Site Use AdSense?

Short answer: Absolutely not.

loner




msg:3658405
 11:44 pm on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

No- I'd sue in a heartbeat.

dibbern2




msg:3658432
 12:48 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thank's for all the response. Can I comment on a few posts?

Adsense is completely out of the question as there is no control over what's advertised.

I disagree. It's certainly not a fail-safe system, but there is a level of control using tags, page content, and maintainance.

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.

Letting you know: I think the approach that EFV has used (with success, as far as I know) has potential in this case. Besides that, there is a growing momentum for local businesses to jump on the local search bandwagon, which is waking up the market, I think.

No- I'd sue in a heartbeat.

Sue on what basis? No law that I know of has been broken.

wyweb




msg:3658441
 1:20 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

No, you couldn't sue. As the poster said, what basis would it be on? The government trying to squeeze a few more bucks out of it's citizens? Hell, they do that anyway and if you think there's some potential litigation involved there, think again. They've got their asses covered like you would not believe.

It's just totally cheesy. A gov site with adsense on it? I'd land there one time and never again...

vincevincevince




msg:3658448
 2:41 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Terrible terrible idea. Government services should never have advertising for private industry. I suggest that if ads are required then they are internally sold and budgeted. For example, one part of government running a road safety campaign could internally purchase ads from the site. In that way it would be all government services and information, and paid for out of the awareness-raising budgets of other government initiatives.

with any extra $$ --if there were some-- to the department's general budget

Typical short-sighted government. If something they do brings in income, every dollar of it should go to lowering taxes next year.

This is what will happen if you put adsense on the site:
1. Public backlash gets picked up by newspapers who smell story
2. Shady journalist purchases high CPM site targetted ads for abortion clinics, prostitution, strip clubs and maybe even terrorist information sites
3. Major news item, probably national by now, about the government website which is selling sex or training terrorists
4. This will definitely be used by the political opposition who will make pledges about removing all ads from government sites
5. Editorial discussion mentions the dangers of Adsense, including click fraud amongst other things
6. Countless annoyed people suddenly get a great idea and click unrelentingly on the ads
7. Most likely, your relative will be out of a job
8. Most certainly, the Adsense account will be terminated

ken_b




msg:3658453
 2:49 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our city government has allowed paid ads in the printed news letter for a couple years now.

As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any problems, I certainly haven't heard of any anyhow.

If they wanted to put AdSense on the city website, I'd certainly not have a problem with it. Maybe keep it off any pages aimed at children if there were any, that's about it in my mind.

dibbern2




msg:3658463
 3:14 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

vincevincevince,
read ken_b's comment. What public backlash?

kaz




msg:3658499
 5:53 am on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why not just test it like everything else? That can be your "reason" for the first few months while you gauge reaction.

I think if visitors are going to the govt site for accessing some specific data then my experience is that adsense or any advertising might not perform very well.

I get a city newsletter that is more than half ads. Never heard an issue before, and surprised by some of the responses. My understanding with those ads is it helps promote business within the community and helps offset real costs that the taxpayers pay.

I wouldn't go by the response from an adsense publishers forum, if anything ask people who use the site or in the local community.

Test it. Only way to find out for sure :)

ecmedia




msg:3658588
 1:02 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am all for it if it lowers taxes.

tim222




msg:3658650
 4:03 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

If a city government is going to advertise then they should limit their ads to local businesses. AdSense can't be controlled well enough to exclude ads for businesses from a nearby city, which could take away local revenue.

BrandNewDay




msg:3658677
 5:19 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our city government has allowed paid ads in the printed news letter for a couple years now. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any problems, I certainly haven't heard of any anyhow.

Don't you think they have ads on their site that otherwise could have find their way to your site? Adsense is not an endless source of cash. Advertisers can spend each dollar only once. If they spend it on governments, their cash is lost for your business.

jbinbpt




msg:3658681
 5:25 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

BrandNewDay




msg:3658691
 5:54 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

If that Board of Education gets its money from tax payers, it doesn't sound so much different to me. And therefore also not fair to commercial competitors who sell advertising space in the same neighborhood.

One of the local authorities in my surroundings has a party center that you can rent for weddings and stuff. Because they can raise taxes any time they feel like it, their party center is dirt cheap to rent. Local entrepreneurs (the French don't have a word for that) are going to court to stop that madness.

No, governments should never operate as if they were a commercial enterprise! It ruins business.

dibbern2




msg:3658740
 7:33 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Kaz. Good advice.

loner




msg:3658780
 8:55 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)


Sue on what basis? No law that I know of has been broken.

Any basis- whatever my attorney could think of. Nothing personal, but it's not the government's role.

londrum




msg:3658791
 9:23 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

there are examples of large companies funded by the taxpayer which steer clear of ads though -- like the BBC.
the BBC could probably get rid of the license fee completely if they accepted ads but, for whatever reason, they don't.

you've got to be careful that you're not seen to be giving a tacit endorsement of a company or service by having their ads on your site.

Pepito




msg:3658795
 9:36 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Although:

"The BBC website offers advertisers a unique opportunity to reach our international audience.

For more information please visit bbcreachingmillions.com.

To discuss advertising opportunities, please contact a member of our Sales Team."

wyweb




msg:3658805
 9:52 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Loner if your attorney entertains this idea even for a minute you should probably think about getting a different attorney. There are no grounds here. None. Any website has the right to monetize. Yours, mine, the governments.. doesn't matter. The issue, at least to me, is credibility.

[edited by: jatar_k at 1:56 pm (utc) on May 26, 2008]

loner




msg:3658824
 10:39 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Looking at some of the responses above, I believe it is safe to say that the legality of monetizing an official government site would be challenged. As I mentioned before, I think it is not the role of the government to recommend/advertise or promote the commercial interests of whoever pays them the most.

[edited by: jatar_k at 1:54 pm (utc) on May 26, 2008]

kaz




msg:3658833
 11:10 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

US Ski Team sponsored by Subaru

Oops. look like audi now sponsors them

See this for a government site with advertising

[usskiteam.com...]

[edited by: kaz at 11:18 pm (utc) on May 25, 2008]

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