Last week, me and Dale Evans took a trip to Birmingham to find out more about the income generation opportunities via web advertisements in Monmouthshire. We came away thinking about more than just money but how advertisements can offer better, personalised digital services and benefit all UK councils.
Monmouthshire signed up to the Council Advertising Network (CAN) just a month or so ago and it was one of the easiest things we did. After a discussion in September at the Web Group Wales meeting, we got in touch with CAN and looked at what they were offering. If we are honest- it looked to good to be true. We were looking for a loophole, a scam, but instead found a very open organisation which, instead of defending their business, pointed us in the direction of some other clients to hear their story.
We spoke to several local authorities already on the network who happily shared good experiences and shared a theme of ‘money for nothing’. It was at this point, although still nervous, we wanted to look at the contracts and talk about going forward. So we brought in our legal guys who signed it all off over night- WOW!.
So we got to a point where it made sense, it would generate income for Monmouthshire during a time where budgets are being cut and all the boxes were ticked. There was just one last thing to check- would the people who use our website find adverts annoying? So we asked them and they were in! You can read what people said on Storify!
We jumped in! We were rolling out a redesign of our website so there were some delays going live but things were great! It had taken us very little time to go live and I have to say, the team at CAN were amazing- they put up with all my silly questions and provided incredible communications that were easily understood by our leadership team as well as our techies.
Here are some of the highlights of CAN for Monmouthshire:
- We maintain full control over all adverts that appear on our website- if we don’t like a particular advert or want to avoid certain companies, we can
- It was free to set up, install and get live
- The revenue structure for us to receive payments is fair and open- we don’t get anything different to other councils on the network
- It was really easy to do
- We are working with people like us- there is a great network and community atmosphere created through openness and honesty so we are growing and learning from each other
I love working with CAN. The advertising on our website works and doesn’t annoy anyone because, aside from making a bit of money, we will never put adverts where they aren’t appropriate. John-Paul explained good advertising at the event. He explained that advertisers want to place adverts in the right places for the right people at the right time. So we will never offer loan ads on a benefits page- it isn’t where the loan companies want to have their adverts as it doesn’t promote their business in a positive light, it is not what is best for the person on the website and it isn’t what we, a council, want to promote. On a council website there are opportunities for reaching specific user groups for a range of businesses so we can target appropriately.
Going forward in Monmouthshire, following a hugely positive experience, we will be investigating how to add adverts on all of our websites including school websites, our intranet for staff and departmental sites. We hope this income will help Monmouthshire continue to provide services and will provide positive outcomes for people in our county.
TeamCAN’s ideas and plans for the year ahead got me really excited! I don’t want to speak on behalf of them, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we can use advertising space to create personalised web experiences, connecting people to local government? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we brought people to our websites from external sites to let them know something is happening in their area? Wouldn’t it be great if we could save jobs and council services through making more money through advertising?
I hope you are as excited as I am about CAN and the opportunities it brings to local authorities. If you do want to find out more or ask me anything about Monmouthshire’s journey or experiences, please tweet me or email me. To talk to CAN, there is a short call-back form on the CapacityGRID website.
Finally, I wanted to send a special thank you to JP, Katie, Caron and James for hosting a fantastic event and thanks for fronting the bill, CapacityGRID and CAN really understand council’s current budget situations.