University Web Developers

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Good morning all,

 

I hope this message finds you well.  Recently, an outside company has approached our Marketing Department about posting commercial ads on our external web site for profit.  While everyone in the IT area is opposed to this, the Marketing Department is actually humoring this venture.  We have heard conflicting reports that an entity that receives state or federal funding cannot utilize their web site for such advertising.  This is not confirmed,  however. 

 

Might anyone have a definitive answer regarding this item? Furthermore, does any of your institutions actually place commercial adds on your public web sites?  Any help is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

NT

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You should definitely consult your University legal team on this matter, since I don't think any of us here are lawyers. BUT, I think the short answer is "it depends." I don't believe there is any blanket law against an organization that receives government money running ads (just look at the sides of public buses). But, I'm sure there ARE federal, state, and private grants that stipulate such restrictions in their agreements/contracts.

But even if its legal, its still pretty darned tacky... And, IMO, short-sighted from a marketing perspective.
Thanks for the reply, James,

We are right in line with your thoughts. Tacky indeed!

Take care,
NT
I just posted this very question to the list! We've had two requests in the past two weeks about placing online advertising on our .edu sites. Our budget situation is dismal, and our colleges and units are thinking creatively about how they can generate revenue to keep their programs running.

I agree that online advertising is tacky, but I can also empathize with their dilemma. And the sites that we're talking about, so far, are fairly buried and specific to a narrow audience. I haven't consulted with our legal department yet, but I imagine that will be the next step. I'll be in touch if I learn anything worthwhile!

Kathy
I wonder if there any feasibility studies out there that would help colleges and universities make this type of decision. Do universities web sites really have the traffic to support good profit using advertising?
I do not believe this is going to be a good idea. Look at it from the perspective of a prospective student. If you were looking to attend a college and saw ads all over their site would that make you feel comfortable going there or would it make you feel like the institution was kinda cheap? I know personally I would feel a bit alienated and most likely never look at that college again.

My uni does have some ads listed on our site, but they are internal ads to events and such. In my opinion that is the only type of ad you should have.
I think I need to clarify. We're not considering advertising on our main web pages. The requests (so far) have been coming from sites that are much more buried and may be cosponsored sites set up in conjunction with outside companies. At least one of them is on a .com, which puts another slant on the question.

The only ads we've allowed on any of our sites is on the athletics site. Other than that, we allow logos to appear to indicate a cosponsorship on some sites, but this must be written into the cosponsorhip agreement in order for the logos to appear. Cosponsored sites are typically produced by centers and institutes that have some working relationships with outside entities or other universities.
Yeah... I mean, taking a step back I can actually see how advertisements could even be USEFUL on certain kinds of internal websites - As long as they are intelligent adwords-style text ads, as opposed to "punch-the-monkey" flashing banners. For example,

* offering links to purchase the work of a faculty member (book, music, art, etc)
* Ads for local restaurants/stores for incoming or visiting students
* Organizations that the University has partnered with (charities, etc)

But I would definitely exercise some STRONG curatorial control over it... You don't want to just sign up for an ad-network... Net thing you know you'll have ads for shady student-loan companies appearing on your site without even knowing it.

Cheers!
Ahem... Missed the edit window. That should be "Next thing you know..."

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