Sponsorship of neighborhood forums by local businesses can create new sources of funding to support E-Democracy's work. At the same time, local business sponsorship can support our mission of promoting community by providing local businesses with an advertising opportunity that they might otherwise not have access to.
At the moment, the technology used on forums.e-democracy.org prevents us from seriously considering sponsor displays. However, changes can be made to the various group pages to enable them to display sponsorship information. In addition, the forthcoming digest upgrade will make it possible for E-Democracy to more easily modify digests, allowing us to place group sponsors displays in digests as well.
Existing Tool or Build Our Own
There are existing tools and websites that handle the display and management of ads, with Google Display Network being the most well known example. If we can find a tool that matches our criteria, then integrating the tool's ad display into our site and digests could happen fairly quickly.
Criteria for Existing Tool
An incomplete list, but at minimum an existing tool would have to allow:
- Strong editorial control by site and/or group administrators regarding the ads that are displayed
- Ads should only be displayed in a forum if the business has a presence in the neighborhood, or a near by neighborhood
- Ads should only be displayed for small, locally owned businesses
- Where applicable, ads must conform to the Rules of Participation in forums
- Selection of neighborhoods that a business wants to sponsor/advertise in
- Easy reporting of display and click statistics to site/group admins and sponsors
Not an absolute requirement, but it would be preferable for the tool to allow group administrators to manage the ads on their groups, either by an interface that can be added to forums.e-democracy.org, or by creating separate ad administration accounts on the tool for each group admin.
It is assumed here that an existing tool would take care of managing the submission of ads, selection of ads to display based on price, and charging of sponsors for sponsorship.
Building our Own
If a suitable existing tool can not be found, then we would have to develop our own. This would involve
- Creating a template for displaying ads
- Creating a system for storing ad information in the database
- Creating a system to determine which ad (if multiple are available) to display
- Creating a system to track display and click statistics of ads, and report these statistics
- Creating an interface for sponsors to submit ads, bids, and payment information
- Creating an interface for site/group admins to manage the ads displayed in a group
- Modifying existing group pages/digests to include the ad display template