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Apollo-Ridge considers Web page ads

| Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Apollo-Ridge School District is being courted to join a network of school districts in making money from their Web sites through advertising.

Bob Phillips, marketing manager of Ellwood City-based Thought Process Enterprises, said the idea is to create a network of school districts in Western Pennsylvania that allow advertising on district Web sites.

Phillips and company President Eric Venezie made a presentation to the Apollo-Ridge School Board on Monday.

There would be no cost or risk for the school districts, Phillips said.

Thought Process Enterprises would handle all technical and operational aspects of running the network, including installation, administration and maintenance of the advertising server; soliciting advertisers; contracting; invoicing; collections; reporting; and customer service.

Phillips said his company would be paid by taking a portion of the revenue generated. Districts would get monthly commission checks.

How much Apollo-Ridge could pocket is not known. It would depend on how much traffic the district's Web site gets, and how many of the pages contain ads. The district can earn an additional commission by referring businesses to the ad network.

In its first year, Seneca Valley School District in Butler County earned about $20,000, Phillips said.

Phillips said the company wants to have every district in Western Pennsylvania as part of the network. A larger network will be able to attract bigger advertisers, he said.

It is focusing on districts in Beaver, Butler, Armstrong and Indiana counties.

Other districts that have approved participating are Butler Area, Indiana Area, Marion Center, Central Valley, New Brighton and Ambridge Area. More than a dozen other districts are said to be considering it.

Penns Manor Area is the only district to reject the proposal, Phillips said.

Districts would share advertisers, but each would have control over what ads appear on its website, Phillips said. No content that would be inappropriate for school-aged children would be permitted on the network.

Ads dealing with sex, alcohol, tobacco, religion and politics would be among prohibited subjects, Phillips said.

Each page of the district's site would have two ads.

Revenue is generated by someone looking at the Web page with ads on it. Revenue would not be dependent on viewers “clicking” on the ads, Phillips said.

Thought Process Enterprises is asking districts to commit to being part of the network through Dec. 31, 2014. After that, participation would be voluntary, and districts could leave with 90 days' notice.

The idea appeared to meet with the approval of the six members of the nine-member Apollo-Ridge board present on Monday. They informally gave administrators the go-ahead to continue pursuing it.

The school board could vote on joining the network in September, board Vice President Forrest Schultz said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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