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Department of Transportation will ramp up web advertising

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Sep. 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm with No Comments »
September 6, 2011 5:46 pm

State government websites have been advertising Cadillacs, Victoria Clipper boat trips and vacations to Hawaii. And the experiment with advertising, a new frontier for the state, is about to get more visible.

A column today in Governing Magazine looks at the Department of Transportation’s online advertising as an innovation nationally. It has been touted in the Wall Street Journal, too.

The program has raised just more than $15,000 so far, after the company that sells the ads took its cut. The Legislature provided $75,000 for the WSDOT pilot project.

The modest revenues reflect a single ad on all website pages at any one time, for periods of one to three months, at rates of $6 or more per 1,000 page views. But WSDOT is ramping up the program as it prepares to take the originally one-year experiment into a second year.

It’s getting ready to sign a contract with a second company to sell the ads, Municipal Media Solutions, which will take a smaller cut of the proceeds and will advertise on more popular pages like the ones that show Seattle and Tacoma traffic congestion and mountain-pass conditions.

“We wanted to expand it from just a handful of ferries pages to some of our most visible, most popular pages,” said WSDOT’s Tonia Buell.

In the meantime, some months are better than others. No ads were sold for September, so right now the only thing the department is shilling is its own planned closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. But in October and November an Amtrak ad will show up in that spot.

The agency says it has a rigorous review process to make sure the websites aren’t shilling booze, firearms or Viagra.

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