You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Advertisements on Ann Arbor schools website expected to net $30,000 in revenue

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor parents can now shop for tires or look for a new dentist while browsing their child’s school website.

Ann Arbor Public Schools is in the process of launching advertising on the district’s website. Banner ads soon will be integrated across the top of every page — including the homepage as well as topic, department and individual school pages.


The Ann Arbor Public Schools district is launching advertisements on its website in an effort to bring in additional revenue.


The ad program is expected to generate $25,000 to $30,000 in additional revenue for the Ann Arbor Public Schools within the first 12 months, said Samuel Curcuru, president and chief executive officer of Alternative Revenue Development, the company providing the marketing.

This past spring, district administrators proposed a number of potential revenue enhancements for AAPS, including advertisements on the district website, installing three digital billboards on district property, licensing high school logos and merchandise, and contracting with other districts to provide professional development or human resources and legal services.

The Board of Education was not required to approve any of the revenue enhancement proposals. However, board members expressed some concerns about the billboards, which would have been erected at Huron and Pioneer High Schools and Wines Elementary, as well as the licensing proposal. The website advertisements, in addition to marketing business office services to other districts, were two revenue enhancements the board desired to have administrators pursue.

District Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said officials had hoped to launch the advertisements prior to the 2012-13 academic year. However, the former webmaster moved out of state at the end of the previous school year, leaving a vacancy that had to be filled.

AAPS is having its own webmaster integrate the coding for the banner ads to eliminate the start-up costs typically associated with launching the ad program.

Placeholder banner ads and some advertisements for national and regional companies or products, like Discount Tire and Netflix, have been up on the AAPS homepage for a few weeks now, and the district’s new webmaster, John Stahly, is currently integrating the ad coding into the interior webpages.

Margolis said in general, people are not typically fans of seeing advertisements on school websites. However, she said with the way education funding has been cut in the state, districts have to be creative and aggressive about bringing in new revenues.

Curcuru said the full launch process, which includes both installing the ads and attracting the sponsors, is about two months. He said within that time frame, ARD’s goal is to secure four to six local sponsors and one to two regional sponsors for the school district.

“Then in the third year, which we consider as maturity, our goal is 30 local sponsors and 20 regional sponsors,” Curcuru said. “And we are actually very excited about Ann Arbor and expect it to do even better than some of its similarly sized districts, just due to the uniqueness of the area and the business community and the high penetration of high speed Internet.”

The district had its first local advertiser sign a contract this week, Varsity Ford. Car dealerships, insurance agents, Realtors, chiropractors, dentists, orthodontists, novelty shops, jewelry stores and specialty grocery stores do well on school websites, Curcuru said.

Alternative Revenue Development and its school-based program, called Unite, started about 3.5 years ago out of Troy, Curcuru said. Unite currently is installed in 68 districts in the state of Michigan, including Plymouth-Canton, Huron Valley, Farmington, Whitmore Lake and, new within the past few months, Ypsilanti schools.

“Our intentions are to expand, to branch off into municipalities and community organizations,” he said. “But quite frankly, the growth and success from the educational side swamped us a bit. So it may be a few years.”

Per its three-year agreement with ARD, Ann Arbor Public Schools receives 60 percent of the profits from local and regional advertisers placing a banner ad on the district’s website, 65 percent of profits from national advertisers and 50 percent of profits from e-commerce advertisers, once this step is initiated.

E-commerce ads will take the viewer to a different landing page outside of AAPS’ site where Web users can shop and purchase various goods from online retailers with a percentage of each sale coming back to the district, Margolis said. She said this option would not be launched right away.

Ann Arbor Public Schools has total control over the advertisements that appear on the site and can approve or deny a sponsor, Margolis said. Curcuru added companies promoting sex, tobacco, alcohol, weapons and ammunition are prohibited.

An added component of the Unite agreement is the company sends home a magazine with students three times per year. Past magazine features included a piece by Comcast on safe Web browsing for children and an article on the importance of winter tire maintenance by Discount Tire.

“It’s all relevant, appealing content to moms and dads,” Curcuru said. “We never market to students. It just arrives in their backpacks.”

The cost of running a banner ad on the Ann Arbor schools website depends on the frequency of the ad but are typically between $300 and $650 per month, Curcuru said. ARD offers 12-month and packaging discounts for businesses that would like to pursue a larger regional audience and partner with multiple public schools.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sun, May 26, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

If you don't like the ads, just ignore them like anything else. I just think that the district should have held out for a bigger chunk of the revenue.


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

If Curcuru expects Ann Arbor will do better than other schools, shouldn't AA get more $$$? And you can keep the junk mail. It wont make it into my house. "Relevant, appealing content"-- if we wanted it, we would ask for it. Any way to "opt out" of this nonsense?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

With Rick Snyder gutting public education in this state, they have to try and get some much needed dollars from somewhere.....why not here?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

I think it's bad looks tacky and cheap, and does not enhance the image of the AAPS as a professional and well-run district.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

Kids and parents deserve to go to a school web site without being bombarded by ads. It's disgusting and it will raise problems about who can advertise and what can be advertised. The law suits that will result will eat up that $30,000 in the first week. So sad that this is the best that AAPS can offer in the realm of new and creative ideas.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

This is just a bad idea.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Can't wait for the anit-Israel ads to go up just like on AATA busses. How will that go over?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Does this mean that all school advertising would be banned? No more Sport or play program ads, Bill boards at sporting events, no more cookies, candy, etc, sales to raise funds for bands, choirs etc? Lets have the district fund all of those essential functions, maybe we can ask the teachers for a pay cut and a down size of their pensions to fund this instead?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

I can't wait to see them try this on the school buses. Not.I can see a few ads going over real well with the parents. Net Flex? O yeah. Children are not going to want to go school over that one.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

What are these internet ads of which you speak? (a proud user of adblock for longer than I can remember).


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Check out Privoxy...that's all I use now on every machine I have control over.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

So this ARD is also going to be sending home a "magazine" (junk mail) in kids backpacks three times per year, plus junk up the website? And is there a start up fee, or does ARD absorb the "full launch process" and just take a percentage of the advertisements? All this for $30,000 yet administration costs at Balas remain untouched...


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

The districts new Webmaster is handling loading the ads. Does the district need a full time web master? could the communication director handle those tasks? or some other administrator?

Jake C

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Of course the district needs multiple full-time IT administration staff. Do you have any idea how much tech support is necessary for a district of thousands of teachers & students, each with multiple PCs / printers / tablets / phones / etc?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Any pleb can handle this task. It does not take a UM degree to do something like this. Unless they need another Balais executive.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Wow. With all that money they could buy another one-tenth of a superintendent. How much power do these "digital billboards" consume? Anybody know? I know the one at Ann Arbor "Tech" is always on displaying fortune-cookie-quality information. The one at Tappan is always giving us the current time and temp. Is that really necessary?


Sun, May 26, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Danielle, what rationale was given for not moving ahead with the billboards?

Danielle Arndt

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Brad, actually the district is not going forward with the digital billboards at this time. But the billboards they have been contemplating would have been like those you would see along various highways, where the advertisements change at set intervals. So they would not be like the digital message boards that sit low to the ground at Tappan and A2 Tech.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : noon

If they use LEDs then it's negligible power consumption. IF....


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

It would also be nice to know where these profits go, hopefully to purchase needed school supplies for our children.

Jake C

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

I'm sure it will just go into the general fund, where it joins a big pool of money that will be spend on many things, from bus drivers to administration to lunches to school supplies. If you want to frame it solely in terms of school supplies, $30,000 will buy maybe a box of crayons for every student in our district, and that's about it.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Good luck with that one. Balais will eat up the profits before the classrooms see any of it.

Dog Guy

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

I expect that the ACLU will jump in if advertisements for male enhancement products are rejected.


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 10:27 a.m.

It should be pretty easy to check and see if the revenue generated meets what was anticipated/expected. ...Right?


Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 12:27 p.m. long as there is someone who will actually check up on this. This city's administration needs watchdogs more than detroit's....