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Seneca Valley looks to cash in with ads on website

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 10:46 p.m.

Seneca Valley School District is bringing in extra cash by accepting advertisements on its district website.

Advertising generated $8,000 from the website, e-newsletter and school calender in August, the first month online advertising was available, officials said. The money paid for half the printing cost of the 36-page district calendar, which is sent to every family in the district.

“Like every other district, Seneca Valley was struggling financially,” communications director Linda Andreassi said. “It's an out-of-the-box way to do it. And it's money we didn't have last year.”

The district had already been accepting ads for its e-newsletter and school calendar.

District officials could be able to raise up to $30,000 annually by accepting advertisements on its site, said Eric Venezie, owner of Thought Process Enterprises, a web and graphic design business in Ellwood City.

He said he did not have available the amount of money that the web ads generated so far, but said that they have sold about 40 percent of possible ad slots.

While SchoolWires has hosted the website for three or four years, Venezie signed the contract with the district in June to serve the advertising end.

The banner ad and two box ads on each of the home pages can be reserved on a quarterly or annual schedule, Andreassi said. Five ads can rotate in each box. Eight advertisers are on the website with room for more.

A box ad costs $500 a month and a banner ad, $600 a month, Venezie said.Advertisers must agree to keep their messages appropriate for children and must be written in good taste, Andreassi said.

All submissions are approved through the district's communications department and then, by the superintendent.

“We're conscious of the (ad) placement,” Andreassi said, keeping everything separate from the school banner at the top of each home page.

“I'm not aware of any school in Western Pennsylvania doing this,” Andreassi said, although North Allegheny has advertising in its school e-newsletter.

With the website use of the district's 7,300 students from kindergarten through the 12th grade, staff and parents, it was an easy sell for the design company.

“We have a captive audience,” Andreassi said. “Our parents look at it for schedules, sports, menus, the teachers' web pages. There are reasons to come to the site.”

Staffers at Thought Process Enterprises will take care of advertising changes and then send the district a percentage of what they make on the ads.

“It's a win-win situation,” Venezie said. His contract with the district has just been extended to the end of 2013.

Although his company has created websites for businesses, Seneca Valley is his first school district.

The banner ads have had three times the industry standard click rate, he said. About 100 people have clicked on the “Want to advertise?” block in the first month.

For the school e-newsletter, The School Newsletter Co. of Colorado “does the legwork for the ads, and I supply the content,” Andreassi said. The company sets up the pages, and she edits.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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