I recently received a letter from a local non-profit institution about their “2009 Annual Gala”. It reads, in part:
This year, we will present the Adbook [sic] in an exciting new virtual (electronic) format. Rather than a printed book, the Adbook contents will be presented during the Gala both as a mural display and as a projected video slideshow, which will later appear on the school’s website. Advertisers will also receive a high-quality printed sheet of their own ads. This Virtual Adbook is a move toward better environmental stewardship, helping us conserve more of Earth’s precious resources…
This raises a whole host of questions in my mind. For example:
- Do private individuals who buy ads in these ad books, especially the big, expensive ads, do so at least in part because they want other people to know how generous (read “rich”) they are (otherwise, wouldn’t they just send a check and forget about the ad)?
- Do businesses which buy ads in these ad books do so at least in part because they want people to see that they are supporting the institution and they hope to receive some sort of quid pro quo in the form of increased patronage from other supporters?
- If so, can they subtract the cost of the ad from their gross as a business expense to reduce their taxes?
- Do businesses really see increased patronage as the result of buying an ad? If so, then eliminating the printed ad book will certainly make it harder to convince businesses to buy ads.
- How are people going to relieve the boredom of all the speeches at the dinner by flipping through the ad book to see who coughed up the big bucks, when there are no printed copies at people’s tables?
- Realistically, do people ever look at the printed ad book for a fundraiser once the fundraiser is over?
- Realistically, is there any chance at all that people will visit a “virtual ad book” on a Web site?
I’m all for reducing wasted paper and ink and for using money raised by a non-profit for better things than printing ad books that no one will ever read, but it seems to me that this “virtual ad book” idea is going to make it decidedly more difficult to sell ads, and I can’t help but suspect that the end result will be a decrease in net proceeds over a printed book.