And the Internet should get out of the advertising business too!

The Seattle Times editorial board wants Metro Transit to get out of the advertising business… you know, just like the Times itself has been gradually, if involuntarily doing over the past couple years.

Metro is learning the hard way that it should not be in the advertising business. Instead of scrambling to craft better policies on noncommercial ads on buses, Metro should get out of the advertising business altogether.

And I’m sure the fact that the Times competes with Metro for local ad dollars has absolutely nothing to do with their opinion.

Comments

  1. 1

    What do you expect spews:

    Er…isn’t advertising a matter of using free market for-profit business techniques to raise money for transit instead of just raising fares/fees/taxes as good idea? Or is the Times against the free market now? COMMIES!

  2. 2

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Goldy–
    I see a difference between the Times (a private company) and Metro (a public company) when it comes to advertising. I wonder how much Metro has spent in terms of bureaucratic time & money sorting thru ads? I don’t see this as the best use of limited tax dollars. People use Public Transportation to get from Point A to Point B.
    They should not be subject to ads of any sort.
    There is enough stress in our lives without having more controversy jammed in our face by Public Transportation (and that goes for both Conservative and Liberal messages).
    Can’t we just have a relaxing haven in Public Transportation? I can choose to buy the Times or not. I have not been a subscriber for years although I occasionally look at it on-line. When I ride buses, the political messages are forced on me, like graffiti.
    Let’s have Public Transportation be free of all advertising.
    On this one rare occasion, I agree with the Times.

  3. 3

    spews:

    Ms. Positive @2,

    I’ve said nothing to the issue at hand, merely pointed out the Times’ unstated conflict of interest on the issue.

  4. 4

    ratcityreprobate spews:

    Any loss in advertising revenue by Metro could be offset by a tax on newspaper advertising.

  5. 5

    notrouble spews:

    Seeing how the Times is paid for with advertising it strikes me as hypocritical for them to suggest Metro gets out of it. Perhaps they want a little less competition for the advertiser’s dollars.

  6. 6

    Michael spews:

    Wait, the people who don’t want to ay taxes wants Metro to give up a way to generate revenue without taxes?

  7. 7

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Michael–
    Have you ever seen the numbers from Metro on advertising revenue vs. cost of generating that revenue?
    I’m curious, what is the NET?
    Also, we are talking about both Commercial and non-Commercial. It seems like Metro has spent an extraordinary amount of time (and time is money) on the non-Commercial stuff. I seem to recall something about free ads in the form of Public Service announcements. Not sure if that is still a policy or not, or if it ever was.
    I’d love to see a breakdown between Commercial & non-Commercial ad revenue & cost.
    I think the problem they have is with setting standards. Seems like if you have to read it, there are only certain things they can ban.

    How about only allowing Commercial Ads?

  8. 8

    spews:

    GREAT IDEA …

    Metro gets out of the adverting business and The Times gives up all pretense of being a newspaper!

  9. 9

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Take a look at the Metro Website Budget info–
    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/budget.html

    For 2010/11–92% of the Revenue comes from Sales Tax, Property Tax & Fares.

    The remaining 8% is lumped together and includes interest income, advertising and other sources.
    They don’t isolate the revenue.
    But whatever the revenue is, keep in mind there are also costs associated with it….sales, administrative etc…just like the Times has.

    Until we isolate the actual Revenue & costs, it is very difficult to make a judgment on whether or not it is worth it to the Taxpayers.

  10. 10

    spews:

    Ms. Positive @9,

    Um… the Times editorial I linked to clearly says that Metro raise $5.5 million a year from advertising, about 1 percent of its budget. So for the sake of argument, I’m going with that.

  11. 11

    zzippy spews:

    Given that, as indicated by its editorial content, the Times supports the ways of the anti-tax, pro-privatization Republicans, I wonder why they’d suggest getting ads off of buses instead of just arguing for the privatization of public transit.

    It’s also interesting in the context of the linked article, how the article completely glosses over the facts that budgets are being squeezed and operating costs are skyrocketing with thie statement that “Metro should never have gotten into this predicament in the first place”.

  12. 12

    Brenda Helverson spews:

    I doubt that Metro spends very much administrative time on the ads. They sell the space to an ad agency (or maybe even through an ad agency)and provide the labor to put the advertiser-supplied posterboards on the buses. That labor would still be required for public service ads, but without the income.

    Maybe The SeaWhoreTimes could come out against any commercial advertising at Husky games or anywhere on the UW campus. But Old Frank doesn’t have that level of courage.

  13. 13

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Here is the 2011 Metro Budget document.
    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am.....tion_1.pdf

    Wow, it sure is complicated.
    So complicated, it takes forever to dig out advertising revenue. And Advertising is still not a separate line item. It is lumped in with “OTHER”.
    In addition, costs associated with generated whatever revenue is actually generated are not isolated. Perhaps someone else is better at digging into this than me.

    But toward the middle of the document, it shows 2011 Budgeted Revenue. The Total Revenue = $876 Million. Of that, $17 Million is labeled as Other. So Other is less than 2% of the Total. How much of that is Advertising? Would be important to know.
    And what is the Cost of Generating that Revenue including Direct Costs for selling ads and related overhead?? Your guess is as good as mine but it is certainly something > $0 isn’t it.

    Frankly, I’m a bit confused as to where the Times got these numbers–
    “Metro’s 2010 operating budget of $524 million is fed by $5.5 million from advertising, of which $400,000 a year came from noncommercial bus advertising. Eliminating bus ads would be a blow to an already beleaguered budget. But Metro should never have gotten into this predicament in the first place.”

    and I’m disappointed they did not dig into the cost to taxpayers of generating the $5.5 Million. Like I said, it is definitely > than $0. And we are screwing around with $400K of non-Commercial?? What a joke. They have spent way over that in Legal and Staff time arguing about what is appropriate. The winners are lawyers & bureaucrats.
    The losers are, as usual, taxpayers.

  14. 14

    Ms. Positive spews:

    12. Brenda Helverson spews:

    I doubt that Metro spends very much administrative time on the ads. They sell the space to an ad agency (or maybe even through an ad agency)and provide the labor to put the advertiser-supplied posterboards on the buses. That labor would still be required for public service ads, but without the income.

    Brenda–
    I’m not so sure about the cost. They must have some staff working with the ad agencies. They have billing & collections…and obviously a lot of legal & admin screwing around with content.
    It would be interesting to get a breakdown in advertising by customer…not just ad agency.
    I think we suffer from a lack of detailed cost-revenue assessment.
    Certainly taxpayers are getting less than $5 million after costs (and it may be $4 million)…which is 1% or less of the Budget.
    I’m all for trying to minimize the cost to taxpayers, but not sure this is doing that.
    Just don’t have the info to know for sure.

  15. 15

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Goldy@10-
    I went thru the Budget document I linked quickly so perhaps I missed something.
    It would be nice if the Times showed us where they got these revenue numbers…and also dug into the cost side of generating the ad revenue.
    Until we see the NET, it’s hard to pass judgment.
    Once again, the Times does a substandard job in trying to make a point.
    Cause is laziness and ineptness.

  16. 16

    Rujax! Reminding Puddy That a Black Person Voting Republican is Like a Chicken Voting for Col. Sanders Since 2004 spews:

    15. Ms. Positive spews:

    Goldy@10-
    I went thru the Budget document I linked quickly so perhaps I missed something.
    It would be nice if the Times showed us where they got these revenue numbers…and also dug into the cost side of generating the ad revenue.
    Until we see the NET, it’s hard to pass judgment.
    Once again, the Times does a substandard job in trying to make a point.
    Cause is laziness and ineptness.

    12/30/2010 at 10:23 am

    HEY CYNICAL…this dumbas screen nam
    e makes you look like even more of a motherfucking fool than you really are.

  17. 17

    Xar spews:

    @2: It seems unlikely that Metro would bother with advertising unless it generated more money than it cost. It’s possible, but pretty unlikely. You therefore likely cannot eliminate it unless a) you’re willing to raise bus fares, or b) are willing to raise taxes in some way to account for the decreased funds available for the Metro programs. A) disproportionately hurts those who are already in dire economic straights, and it seems unlikely you’d accept b).

    @7: It’s easier for a public entity to restrict commercial speech than non-commercial speech–Metro’d have a very difficult time banning non-commercial speech on the sides of buses (as a public agency). If they’re going to allow any “speech” at all, they likely have to allow political speech.

  18. 18

    Ms. Positive spews:

    Xar-
    I think we need to see the detailed cost/revenue numbers before making any conclusion so we can weigh the NET benefit of advertising with the hassle to generate that revenue.

    I think your follow-up comment hits the nail on the head. Once we see the NET benefit, we can decide whether it is worth it to allow any speech at all. If it’s say 1/2% of the total budget NET, I think you dump it. If it’s 1% or more, perhaps you can stomach the hassle and in your face stuff we are forced to look at.
    But it would be nice to be able to make a well-educated, fact-filled decision for a change.
    If advertising were killed, the only people that would be pissed would be employees involved in that profit-center or those that felt those ads were critical to their business.
    When you look at the Metro Website, they brag about low cost. Perhaps they ought to raise the price? Not sure where they got the rates from. Any ideas??

  19. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Watching the cobwebs gather on Frank Blethen’s $150 million printing plant almost makes you feel sorry for him, doesn’t it?

  20. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 “People use Public Transportation to get from Point A to Point B. They should not be subject to ads of any sort. There is enough stress in our lives without having more controversy jammed in our face by Public Transportation (and that goes for both Conservative and Liberal messages).”

    Don’t ride the bus if it’s stressful for you. You have free will, don’t you?

  21. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 “People use Public Transportation to get from Point A to Point B. They should not be subject to ads of any sort. There is enough stress in our lives without having more controversy jammed in our face by Public Transportation (and that goes for both Conservative and Liberal messages).”

    If bus ads stress you out, don’t ride the bus. You have free will, don’t you?

  22. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, Ms. Positive has never ridden a bus in her life. Riding the bus is only for people too poor to drive. She doesn’t have to live like they do. If she had ever been on a bus, she would known that robberies and assaults are more stressful for bus passengers than looking at ads.

  23. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @14 “They must have some staff working with the ad agencies.”

    When people like you start making factual assumptions to back up your arguments, it’s a sure sign you’ve run out of arguments.

  24. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    One thing governments at all levels do spend a lot of staff time on is dealing with harassment from government-hating ideologues.

  25. 25

    Michael spews:

    @7

    Michael–
    Have you ever seen the numbers from Metro on advertising revenue vs. cost of generating that revenue?
    I’m curious, what is the NET?
    Also, we are talking about both Commercial and non-Commercial.

    See #10.

    And my point was about The Times, not Metro. I mean, they don’t like ads on busses, but they don’t want to pay taxes either. Maybe they should just come out and say they don’t want any mass transit.

  26. 26

    uptown spews:

    It’s so nice of MsP to keep us all informed of the latest corporate elite talking points.

    Wasn’t too long ago that she was spouting that government should be run like a business, or was it run into the ground like WaMu. I forget.

  27. 28

    doggril spews:

    Yeah, I can’t keep up with all the contradictory arguments conservatives use. First they want government to run like a business. Then they want government to run according to their personal dictates (which is certainly not how other people’s businesses are run). Then they want government to get out of anything that competes with business. They want user fees, but only for services THEY don’t use–because, by god, they PAY TAXES and expect the services they want. They want to lower taxes, and then scream like two year olds when government cuts back on services (like, say, reducing ferry runs).
    And they’re convinced that the government is chock-full of waste, and they usually have an anecdote or two to point to as their “proof” (or, even better, and certainly more frequent, they label a program that they disagree with as “government waste”, seemingly unaware of how egocentric such a definition is).
    Bunch o’ hypocritical crybabies is what they are.