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District agrees to put ads on website to increase revenue

August 22, 2012 - Oxford Community Schools recently announced a new partnership with Alternative Revenue Development (ARD) to "monetize assets for the school."

According to the district's Communications Director Linda Lewis, "ARD has the exclusive right to market, sell and collect fees for sponsorship agreements with sponsors in connection with (the district's) internet based programs only, for the purpose of generating an income stream for Oxford Community Schools."

Or, as ARD CEO and President Sam Cucuru put it, his company "will generate nontraditional, significant and sustainable revenue for the Oxford Community School district, via the creation of commercially sponsored partnerships."

What he's trying to say is that his company will sign up sponsors who would like access to the audience provided by the Oxford school website. The school's website experienced "159,395 unique visitors (who) made 481,667 visits resulting in 1,700,862" pages viewed over the last twelve months, Lewis said. The school anticipates approximately $16,000 of additional revenue to be generated each year through its partnership with ARD, she said.

Curcuru has set a goal of generating "$35,000 net to the Oxford Community Schools during the third year of the program, or sooner." Revenue is shared with ARD variously, depending on the sponsor's location. For local businesses, ARD receives 40 percent while Oxford takes 60 percent of the revenue generated. For regional or national businesses who advertise through the ARD partnership with Oxford Schools, the breakdown is 35 percent for ARD and 65 percent to Oxford. Should the school opt for cell-phone advertisements, the revenue distribution with ARD is 50/50.

These ads will appear at the top of the school district's website as early as September 1. In addition to the banner at the top of the website, ARD will offer Oxford "other elements such as an eMall, Mobile Solution and Quarterly Magazine," said Curcuru.

The initial cost to the district, according to Curcuru, is zero "up-front," while the contract has an initial term of three years.

Many other school districts across the region are opting for similar revenue-creating partnerships. To date 49 Michigan districts have joined with ARD, nine in Oakland County alone. Brandon, Waterford, Huron Valley, Avondale and Farmington are a few of the local schools to recently join. Curcuru expects more to get on board by January of next year.

Oxford will retain full control over which sponsors appear on the school website, Curcuru said. He has sponsors like Comcast and Discount Tire already lined up, and is in "final stage negotiations . . . with a health care insurance provider, grocer, furniture retailer, financial institution, cellular provider and energy services company."

Though the end result may look like advertising to the untrained eye, Curcuru stressed that his company offers something different. His services provide a business "a means by which (they) can promote and market their products or services. It is Socially Responsible Marketing, whereby a majority of the revenue stays within the partner district, while the sponsor receives both a media value and can be actively involved within their community."

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