Levy says no to online ad money

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By Vidya Kauri

Ryerson could be missing out on up to $46, 000 each year because the university does not sell advertising space on its my.ryerson portal.

“It never occurred to me. No one’s ever approached me on it and I’ve never seen it done by any Canadian university,” said Sheldon Levy, Ryerson president.

The high-traffic login portal receives an average of 5,046 sessions each day, which could make it attractive to advertisers targeting the student demographic. The numbers are much higher in September when students are still registering and faculty members are managing online courses. Last September, there were over 5,000 users logged in within the space of one hour, according to statistics by the Computing and Communications Services (CCS).

The cost for online advertising is usually determined by using the Cost Per Mille/Thousand (CPM) model and the price for each thousand hits generally ranges from $10 to $25, according to Jonathan Tick, managing partner at Campus Marketing Agency. This means the university could be raking in anywhere between $1,500 and $3,700 per month considering how much traffic it receives.

But Levy says this isn’t enough cash to entice him.

“If you added two more zero’s I’m not interested. Even at $150,000 I’m not interested,” he said.

“So if someone’s got some great idea, tell them to go knock on some other university’s door.”

Even though nearly everyone in the Ryerson community uses the portal, the site would face tough competition from major sites like Yahoo and MSN, which receive higher daily traffic and would provide advertisers with more exposure.

Tick said this limited traffic makes companies choose to advertise on corporate websites instead of university websites. Most of the time, advertisers looking to entice university students opt for offline advertising tactics like setting up booths, distributing flyers and collecting data.

There are a number of American universities who have outsourced services like email using Google and Microsoft applications. However, they all have agreements that state there will be no advertising on their sites.

Brian Lesser, acting director at CCS, said there has never been a serious initiative to bring advertising to Ryerson’s website. He vaguely recalls one conversation about it among university staff some time ago.

“No one was really excited about it,” he says.

One reason why Ryerson is not interested is because it would take the focus away from the university itself.

“Part of the issue is that it is very much about Ryerson’s brand,” Lesser said.

“Some people would object to having advertising there.”

And Levy is one of those people. He said advertising should be limited to university events and communicating with students.

“I don’t see it, unless it’s for selling Ryerson sweatshirts from the bookstore or something like that,” Levy said.

Photo: Marta Iwanek

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