APOLLO-RIDGE: Officials considering online advertising
August 13, 2013 10:50 AM
by JULIE MARTIN

SPRING CHURCH — Apollo-Ridge officials are considering signing up with an online advertising program that its creators say would not only generate additional revenue, but also come at no cost to the district.

The program, created by Thought Process Enterprises of Ellwood City, takes a regional approach to online advertising and focuses on school districts’ Websites, school board members learned during a presentation at Monday night’s workshop meeting.

With the approval of Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit 28, Thought Process has been soliciting agreements with Armstrong and Indiana county school districts. Those at the company plan to work their way south once they are established.

In July, Indiana Area school board members agreed to participate. Homer-Center officials also gave the green light to the program, according to Bob Phillips, Thought Process’s marketing manager.

Penns Manor declined because they had other plans in the works, he said.

The program has the potential to be a success because of its regional approach, which endeavors to sell ad space on all of the participants’ sites, according to Phillips and company president Eric Venezie.

By creating a network of Websites, the program offers businesses an opportunity to connect with a large number of Website visitors.

“Though a school district may be small, a pool of them can be attractive to advertisers,” Phillips said.

Although Apollo-Ridge officials and Thought Process representatives couldn’t project at last night’s committee meeting what the program could bring in for the district, Phillips did say that a pilot project at Seneca Valley was able to make about $20,000 in its first year.

The potential exists to sell ads for as much as $1 million, he said. Such figures would come into play with a network of 50 or 60 school districts.

“The larger the network, the larger the advertisers you will attract,” he said.

Revenue would be split 50-50 between the company and the participating schools districts. District referrals would tip that balance a bit. Individual sales, if generated by someone at the school, would gain an extra five percent for the district.

In the end, a district’s total cut would basically depend upon the number of views ads receive.

While some of the school’s administrative and IT staff would have to put a little effort into maintaining the program, it wouldn’t take too much time, Phillips said.

School staff responsibilities would involve matters such as approving ads — which would not be solicited from businesses that weren’t school-friendly, such as tobacco companies — before they appeared on the district’s website.

The school has not worked with online sales before, according to officials.

Board Vice President Forrest Schultz said that he had never heard of a program like what Thought Process was proposing.

“I think it’s a really interesting idea,” he said.

Board members gave superintendent Matt Curci the go-ahead to further investigate Thought Process’s proposal.

“Obviously, we want to move efficiently, but we want to look at the pros and cons,” Curci said.

If officials decide soon to join the network, ads could begin appearing on the district Website as early as this school year.

In other business:

• The Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation decided to award a $1,300 grant to the Challenger Learning Center project, Curci reported. If the project moves ahead, Apollo-Ridge students would have access to the proposed center, which would be dedicated to math and science.

• The board learned that a dozen or so school administrators and staff will be trained Wednesday on how to drive a school bus during an emergency evacuation situation.

• The school board was asked to consider a request from Apollo Little League to retrofit or replace bleachers and add a storage shed at the Little League field. The Little League leases the ball fields from the district. As part of the lease agreement, any updates or changes have to be approved by the board.

Officials will investigate further, they said, before approving.

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