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NJ Looks Into Selling Ads On State Websites [AUDIO]

State Senator Ray Lesniak wants New Jersey government to evolve along with technology and maybe pick up a few bucks along the way.

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Today, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee is scheduled to consider a bill co-sponsored by Lesniak that would allow three State agencies to sell Internet advertisements on their websites.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale authorizes the Economic Development Authority, New Jersey Transit, and the New Jersey Lottery to establish a two-year pilot program to sell Internet advertisements for display on the agencies’ websites.

Each agency’s website must include a disclaimer stating that the advertisements don’t imply endorsement by the State. “Internet advertisement” is defined to mean specific advertising methods on the Internet, including display or banner advertisements, sponsorships, and business listings where goods or services may be purchased online.

“I think it’s a worthwhile effort,” says Lesniak. “I don’t expect it to be a huge revenue raiser and we’ll just see what happens. We have to look at non-traditional revenue raisers for government to maintain its operations and not always have to look at taxes to do that.”

Each of the three agencies would have to develop policy, style, and content guidelines for web ads that ensure that the subject matter of the advertisement directly relates to the agency’s business mission and purpose. Revenue generated would be deposited into the State General Fund by agencies for which expenditures are authorized through the annual appropriations act.

For agencies not provided for through the annual appropriations act, the agency will remit to the State Treasurer such revenue generated from the sale of Internet advertisements as remains after deductions by the entity for the incremental cost of offering Internet advertisements and of an additional ten percent of such revenue for the purpose of innovation in operations, programs or services.

Lesniak says, “These are websites looked at by business interests and they know what they’re getting into and what they’re paying for and I don’t mind if they make any revenues as a result……If people want to advertise on the websites and pay for it, it’s an easy way to help support our governmental operations.”

The bill requires each agency to submit a detailed report to the Governor and the Legislature evaluating the effectiveness of the program, including a summary of expenditures and revenues under the program, together with recommendations concerning whether to continue the program. Lesniak says the purpose of the measure is clear: to provide new sources of revenue for the State, particularly for State agencies that maintain high-traffic web pages.

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