The Matawan Aberdeen Board of Education is continuing to consider advertising as a source of revenue, despite tabling a resolution moving forward with the process at an October board meeting.
Bryan McGair, a representative of Advantage3, a company that facilitates advertising in school districts, attended the board's Nov. 12 committee meeting to answer questions and ease concerns.
The board of education was clear that they were uncomfortable advertising inside the schools, on the district website and on school buses, citing safety concerns with drivers and concerns about children being distracted during classl.
"The board, at least the consensus I gathered, was the board was not interested in buses, the board was not interested in the website, the board was not interested in indoor. But the board may be interested in outdoor advertising," board president Charles Kenny said.
McGair emphasized that the school district would have the right to deny any advertisement for any reason, and should not cut out in-school advertising before they see some options.
"You have total control. We, Advantage3, will not, cannot, force any advertising upon your school district. We cannot do it. We can only bring you contracts that have been negotiated, bring you advertising revenue contracts that have been negotiated for your approval," he said.
"After you see it (an ad), you may say, you know what, we don't mind it in the cafeteria... You may have second thoughts, you may. I say see it, review it, think about it. Because once again we don't market your assets until you approve the portfolio and say this is what you want," McGair said.
Advertising does not come without a cost, however. The district must pay Advantage3 a one-time initial fee for each area they wish to advertise in. It costs $7,500 per high school, $5,000 per middle school, $2,500 per elementary school, $145 for each school bus and $3,450 for the website. The fee for each building includes the entire school grounds, both inside and outside.
The Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District would earn 100 percent of the revenue generated until the fee is recouped, and after that the district earns about 80 percent depending on the location of the advertisement.
Kenny questioned McGair about the upfront fee, wondering why, if the return on investment was so guaranteed, that the district would even have to pay to get started.
"We don't really see the need to pay somebody something in this situation," he said. "If that's the case and that's such a simple proposition, why does the money have to change hands anyway?"
McGair explained that the money allows Advantage3 employees to do market research for each of the areas the school is interested in advertising in so they can build a profile to show to potential advertisers. It also serves as a financial commitment from the district to ensure that they are actually interested in placing ads, McGair said.
Advantage3 is unable to provide a specific timeline for the initial fee to be recouped. McGair explained that the timeline depends largely on what the district approves and rejects as well as how many areas they are willing to place ads. Additionally, the in-school advertising industry is only a few years old and is beginning to gain traction.
"Advertisers are really warming up to this," McGair said. "Print advertising is dead. You get the Sunday newspaper, you read the paper and where does it go? In the recycling. Magazines - in the recycling. It's dead. People may see it once, they may not at all. Radio is too expensive, and with satellite, people turn it off. Their message isn't being heard. Television, extremely expensive but with the remote control they turn them off. What are advertisers looking for? Exposure. How many eyeballs can I hit at one time?"
Each contract also contains a provision that allows the district to remove the advertisement if the company does something that the district does not wish to be associated with, McGair explained. The company that wishes to advertise in the district is also the one that pays to place, maintenance and remove the ad.
No action was taken on this item during the meeting. The board of education's next regular action meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at Ravine Drive School on Monday, Nov. 26.
For more information on Advantage3 and the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District, click here.