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Possibly coming soon to a N.J. state website near you: Paid advertising

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The state’s continual search for more revenue may be headed to advertising agencies.

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee voted Monday to release a bill that would allow some state agencies to sell online advertisements on their websites.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge), aims to draw revenue by permitting ads on some of the state’s higher-traffic websites.

“This is 2014. Consumers are used to seeing advertisements on websites, so we’re not breaking new ground here,” Coughlin said. “In fact, if anything, New Jersey government is behind the times when it comes to not generating revenue from its web sites. The bottom line is this—anything we can do to ease the burden on taxpayers is the right thing to do.”

Under the legislation, the Economic Development Authority, NJ Transit and the New Jersey Lottery would be permitted to sell online ads for a two-year pilot program period.

For agencies which have expenditures authorized by the annual appropriations act, generated revenue by the ads would be transferred to the state budget.

It will be up to the individual agencies to craft policy, style and content guidelines for the ads, which must also relate to the nature and business of the agency. However, the agencies must visibly note that they do not officially endorse the advertisements that appear on their respective sites.

Agencies participating in the pilot program will be required to report their revenues and recommendations to the governor’s office and state Legislature.

Coughlin notes that similar programs have been successful in states such as Massachusetts and Oregon.

“Let’s see if it works,” Coughlin said. “Even if it’s not a large windfall, every dollar counts when it comes to finding savings for the taxpayers. This is a sensible concept that could prove beneficial to taxpayers with no downside besides a few ads on a website, which we’re all used to seeing at this point. This makes sound fiscal sense.”

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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