Recently, the Washington Post published an article that caught our attention here at EDGEclick. The Prince George County school district in Maryland used money cultivated from paid advertising on its website – $160,000 in two years – to help fund several scholarships. This charitable act serves as the sort of contribution we hope schools that utilize web monetization initiatives make with the inflow of funds.
According to pgcps.org, Prince George’s County Public Schools system, the second largest school district in the state, enrolled approximately 125,000 students during the 2012-13 school year. Industry research suggests that high rates of enrollment translates into increased district website page views. Furthermore, our experience shows that large school districts lead to a proportionate amount of impressions, thus a higher degree of monetization opportunities.
Upon further review, we sought out to apply our EDGEclick industry standard sell rates to this example to test our theory. While seeking out their site to review its construction, we found that this school district used a Google AdSense platform in order to direct viewers to other paying advertisers.
The article specifically points out that paid advertisements are accompanied by a disclaimer that states: “Prince George’s County Public Schools does not endorse any messages, products or services presented in the ads below.” This is generally required protocol with search engines, such as Google, that use browser history to help serve target advertisements.
Furthermore, the article discusses that district webpage visitors found ads for eBay, L.L. Bean, and the Kayak online travel service, in the weeks leading up to holiday and travel seasons.
Why take our word? Take a look for yourself. By using these sites, you can see that advertisements appear based on recently searched items along with web pages visited.
If you searched for framed canvas prints, custom t-shirts, or used cars, you shouldn’t be surprised if advertisements displayed through AdSense pertain to those industries.
Another concern is that eBay, L.L. Bean, and Kayak, are not local companies. We believe in working with small businesses within communities instead of large scale conglomerates. Saturating the online market with national businesses does not keep money in the towns that truly need it. Large advertisers utilize Adsense-typed networks to gain nationwide notoriety, which means they are not centralized to specific areas such as northeast Maryland.
Additionally, our research shows that powerful ad placement software (IE: Google AdSense) pays its publisher – in this case the school district – only 5-to-10% of what could be commissioned. A large district site such as Prince George County, with an enrollment of over 100,000 students, should net nearly 5 million impressions PER MONTH. Local and regional CPM buys center around a $5.00/CPM, which results in nearly $25,000 of monetize-able impressions available to the school district on a MONTHLY basis.
By estimating an 80% fill rate and project annually after our contractual arrangement, your figure sits around $120,000. This is quite a bit more than the $160,000 over two years referenced by the district CFO in the Prince George County article.