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The Rise of School-Based Advertising (and what it means to you)

The milestones are adding up and the rules are blurring with the massive attack by school districts to find new ways to fund programs through non-traditional revenues using media advertising and sports sponsorship strategies.

Here's a big one: Orange County Public Schools #OCPS (9th largest school district in the United States; to put it in perspective covers the Orlando market with 197 schools and about 197,000 students) had their website serve 2.5 million pageviews to an advertiser (Stetson University) in about six days...


That reaches more families in the Orlando market than the number one publisher (Orlando Sentinel) and largest television station (WESH, channel 2 local)... combined.

With over 197k students, thats, (According to the Census Bureau) about 285,000 parents (1.5 per minor in household) and doesn't include the other 24,000 employees of the school district.

In the past, when brands (especially regional or national brands) wanted to work with school districts it was almost always individual franchises or local contacts making "supportive" partnerships with the school district. Throwing some dollars to the school in hopes of a banner on a fence. You can still do that but now there's so much more.

Back in the day there wasn't measurement, consistency, or a guarantee of deliverables when you advertised through school districts but that's all changed.

Now you can put ads on school district homepages like and go all-out reach mode OR target individual schools that are located within a 3-mile radius of your brick-and-mortar locations.

Athletic sponsorships are evolving at break-neck speed. Brands need to know how to navigate field marketing opportunities and how to scale their hyper-local, school-based efforts to maximize efficiency and reach.

For example, T-Mobile monopolized the Orlando market by becoming the official Half-Time Show sponsor for all 20 public high schools during football season. That reached over 277,000 paying spectators during football season with a high-visibility "owned" partnership... every parent and high school student knew the "T-Mobile Half-Time Show."


Brands can now customize large-scale campaigns just like with any event or any publisher. The scariest part is knowing how to do it. You definitely don't want to get snagged like McDonald's when they were giving away ice cream cones on report cards.


Do it the right way... or risk losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in branded cowbells (we won't call you out tire brand!) because you didn't realize high school sports penalize hometeams with losses if they use artificial-noise makers... and what brand gave those out... ouch.

School districts are now developing pitch kits, dedicated web pages for their advertising and sponsorship opportunities like this one from Lee County (Fort Myers, FL) and even sizzle videos with Johnny Damon (no joke!)

For some simple steps, you can reference this article on how to "Consider Schools for Hyper-Local Advertising" from SmartBrief last year and find out what your brand is missing and all you have to gain from going back to your (brand) roots. #schoolbasedadvertising #scalablehyperlocal in 2019.


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