A new income stream at no cost to us: Southampton City Council feels the benefit of website advertising. Posted January 2019.
On the front foot in using their assets to generate commercial opportunities, decision-makers at Southampton City Council had no qualms about introducing advertising onto its website – and the council has been one of the most consistently successful partners on the CAN Council Advertising Network for the past 12 months.
For Commercial Communications Manager, Richard Pearson, it’s a no-brainer: “My revenue targets have been increasing year on year and there are only so many assets we have available. Serving adverts on our website has been a simple and effective way of creating a whole new income stream.”
Alongside the £1,000s generated by the website ads each year, Richard also makes the most of the technology used to serve the adverts by selling some of the space at discounted rates to local companies to support Southampton’s business growth.
With more than 100,000 unique visitors a month – and one million page impressions – Southampton optimises revenue from advertising on its website with both skyscraper and leaderboard formats.
And the ‘iBar’ feature – which can be installed as a fixture at the bottom of each screen – is almost permanently used to promote Southampton City Council’s own energy brand CitizEn Energy. It clicks straight through to the energy brand’s website.
Richard said: “The adverts don’t distract users from what they came to do. They don’t dominate the page; they’re subtle.
“Because we’re a commercially minded council, the only early issue we had was that occasionally an advert would appear that clashed with one of our traded services. But this was quickly and easily dealt with. CAN has a ‘Category Approval List’ where you get to choose which type of advertising is and isn’t suitable.
“My message to other councils is ‘don’t be scared by website advertising’. The initial concerns we had about the user experience and inappropriate adverts appearing never materialised. We’re all under pressure to get more revenue in – our websites are trusted sources of information and generate significant traffic. Why not capitalise on that and create a whole new income stream?”