WSDOT hopes to turn clicks into cash

Since January, the Washington State Department of Transportation has been placing advertisements on its website. The pilot program started small, with ads on the ferry schedule and tracking pages, but WSDOT is about to expand the program to its mountain pass and traffic conditions pages. The agency is following federal rules that prohibit advertising on dot-gov sites, which means the ads are only available on its dot-com pages. And mindful of its responsibilities as a government agency, WSDOT will not accept ads that may be offensive or controversial — including ads that feature religious or political content and ads for cigarettes, alcohol, and firearms. “That cuts the potential advertising market down,” said spokeswoman Tonia Buell. “Because the important thing is that people are able to get the information that they want from our website and not be distracted, and not have inappropriate ads in the public domain.” The ads have generated about $30,000 to date, but WSDOT has just contracted with a company that will sell advertising through a revenue-sharing plan. Link to full story in Governing.

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Profile Photo David Reinbold

Thanks for sharing this, Susan. I think this will continue to be a contentious issue for people, but something states probably have to consider, given the economy and state budgets. Do you think other state agencies will begin to model their websites after WSDOT?

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Profile Photo Susan Bregman

It’s a little controversial, but it seems to me that it’s a fairly easy way for states and localities to generate some income. How much income remains to be seen, of course; so far the experiment has not generated a lot of money for WSDOT.

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