Adverts on council websites

Adrian Short picks up on some adverts that appear on a council’s website. They’re for debt management companies that encourage people to apply for bankruptcy.

Probably not a good thing – I think we’d probably rather people needing advice about that sort of thing go to the Citizens Advice Bureau, for example.

Soem folk don’t think councils should run adverts on their sites. I’m pretty indifferent personally – if they can make it work and get some revenue to help develop the website, then that’s fair enough.

Councils running adverts on their websites do need to be very careful however about the contents of those adverts. If you’re using Google Adsense then it is possible to moderate the adverts to keep inappropriate content off your site. As a reputation management issue, this is a vital activity – but also of course to protect those using the site.

Maybe an alternative is to use a more local, friendly service than Google – such as Addiply. This would offer far more control.

Peter McClymont raises another interesting issue:

After all, councils get plenty of web traffic because there’s nowhere else to go for that content. If I want to pay my council tax, I have to visit the council website, meaning any adverts on that site get the benefit of my eyeballs and potential clicks as a result of that monopoly position.

I doubt if anyone has done any research in those areas where councils do run ads as to whether it has affected the revenues of the local newspaper website, for example. It would be interesting though, I think.

For more information on councils running adverts, Catherine Howe wrote an excellent summary post earlier this year.