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Advertisement Policy

Draft Digital Advertising Policy

Advertising Disclaimer
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) does not endorse and makes no representations, explicit or otherwise concerning any advertiser on this site, their content or any products or services which they offer. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise does not represent endorsement or recommendation by WSDOT. Any information obtained from an advertising link to an external Web site is not guaranteed by WSDOT and the user should review the accuracy of any information before relying upon it.

Digital Advertising
In an effort to generate a new source of revenue, WSDOT is conducting a digital advertising pilot project to allow commercial advertising through its websites and social media tools.

The legislature, through the 2009-11 and 2011-13 transportation budgets, directed the department to implement a pilot project allowing advertisement and sponsorships on sections of its website to determine the feasibility of monetizing its digital assets to generate revenue.

The advertising policy advances the advertising program’s revenue-generating objective by prohibiting advertisements that could detract from that goal by creating substantial controversy, interfering with and diverting resources from transportation system operations, and/or could be viewed as offensive, inappropriate or harmful to the general public.

The department establishes policies, rules, and procedures for advertising that are consistently and fairly applied to protect the traveling public and state resources. The department retains the right to refuse any advertiser and any ad posting.

Advertising Revenue
WSDOT is testing the possibility of generating new revenue for the transportation system through digital advertising. The agency is using a partnership ad placement business model to minimize initial investment and operating costs. Should an ongoing digital advertising program be established, WSDOT is committed to reinvesting advertising funds to enhance traffic, road, and traveler information provided to the public through its website and social media channels.

Advertising Acceptance Guidelines
Below is a summary of WSDOT’s advertising acceptance guidelines. Additional specifications that amend or supersede these general guidelines may apply for individual ad products.

Permitted Advertising Content

  1. Any and all advertising sold shall be limited to informing members of the public of the availability of commercial goods or services. No statements of public policy, opinion or public matters shall be permitted whether or not in the form of an advertisement. The department may allow advertising for state agency public programs, projects and services.
  2. Content must be in keeping with contemporary community standards and any standards for public area advertising.

Prohibited Advertising Content

  1. Content containing any of the following characteristics is not permitted:
    1. Obscene or indecent; 
    2.  Discriminatory;
    3. Religious;
    4. Political advertising promoting or opposing a political party; the election of any candidate or group of candidates for federal, state or local government offices; and initiatives, referendums and other ballot measures; and
    5. Public issue advertising expressing or advocating an opinion, position or viewpoint on matters of public debate about economic, political, religious or social issues.
  2. Advertising that depicts or promotes the following products, services or other material will not be permitted:
    1. Tobacco products;
    2. Alcohol;
    3. Gambling;
    4. Firearms including ads promoting or soliciting the sale, rental, distribution or availability of firearms or firearms-related products;
    5. Adult/mature rated films, television or video games or other products rated by the industry as only suitable for mature audiences;
    6. Adult entertainment or establishments including but not limited to adult book or video stores, adult Internet sites, adult telephone services, adult Internet sites, and adult escort services;
    7. False or misleading material that the advertiser knows or should know is false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or would constitute a tort of defamation or invasions of privacy;
    8. Objectionable sexual or harmful subject matter that is offensive based on contemporary community standards and is reasonably foreseeable that it would result in harm to, disruption of, or interference with the transportation system.
    9. Insulting, disparaging, or degrading material directed at a person or group that is intended to be, or could be interpreted as being, disrespectful based on characteristics protected under federal or state law or that is so offensive as to be reasonably foreseeable that it will incite or produce imminent lawless action in the form of retaliation, vandalism or other breach of public safety, peace and order;
    10. Illegal activity including any advertising that promotes any activity or product that is illegal under federal, state, or local law or any advertising that contains material that is an infringement of copyright, trademark or is otherwise unlawful or illegal;
    11. Profanity and violence including advertising that contains any profane language or portrays images or descriptions of graphic violence, or intentional infliction of pain or violent action towards or upon a person or animal; and
    12. Products, services or messages which might be contrary to the best interests of the traveling public or department including any advertisement that encourages or depicts unsafe behavior with respect to transportation-related activities such as not driving within speed limits or not complying with traffic laws. Advertisements will not be allowed for products such as radar detectors to avoid speeding tickets or for legal services such attorneys defending drunk driving arrests.

In addition to general restrictions, the following rules apply to advertisements on WSDOT’s websites and social media tools:

  1. The department shall specifically designate the advertising spaces available on its website. It is within the department’s sole discretion to determine which Web pages or portions thereof shall be available.
  2. All advertising space will be placed on “” Web pages and will not be placed on “” Web pages per federal General Services Administration guidelines
  3. Advertising must not slow or degrade access to information.
  4. The advertising shall adhere to WSDOT’s online privacy policy, Internet security requirements, and accessibility guidelines.
  5. All advertisements, including any javascript and/or tracking code, place on any WSDOT website must be served from a secure location/server. As applicable, ads shall be served through third party ad serving software. Advertisers must certify that content is free from any virus, infection, malware, or other code that places the website, its users, or any state resources in jeopardy.
  6.  Popup ads are not allowed. To minimize distractions and interruptions from the agency’s information, advertisers are not allowed to use pop-up ads (ads that appear to “pop up” in a new window as users browse a website) including pop-under, hover ads, floating ads and slide-in ads.
  7. The advertising content must be clearly identifiable as an advertisement. Advertisements cannot mimic news headlines in design, tone, third person sentence structure or topic. Advertising cannot resemble or content.
  8. Advertising content cannot mislead the user. For example, advertisements cannot be designed to appear as though they are a functional part of the department’s websites or mimic or resemble operating system or Internet browser error message or dialog boxes (dropdown menus, search boxes, etc.) Actual interactive ads approved by WSDOT are accepted.
  9. Audio events in advertisements must be initiated by a user click, include a clearly labeled button or link to stop audio, and cannot loop.
  10. Advertisements that include links to websites outside of the department’s control must allow users to return the WSDOT’s websites by using their browser’s “back” button; trap door effects are not permitted. Advertisements cannot launch multiple browser windows upon a user click.

E-Mail Subscription
While WSDOT attempts to keep this website and emails up to date with current law and policies, WSDOT does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained herein and in its emails, including but not limited to any dates or deadlines. Although WSDOT attempts to maintain the security of any information submitted through this website, the security of the information is not guaranteed. WSDOT assumes no liability for any damages incurred, whether directly or indirectly, incidental, punitive or consequential, as a result of any errors, omissions or discrepancies in any information published on this Web site or any use of this Web site, or for products advertised and market promotions on the Web site or by and through emails including but not limited to use of mobile or other applications.

WSDOT does not endorse and makes no representations, explicit or otherwise concerning any advertiser on this site or emails, their content or any products or services which they offer. Content contained in advertisements, on advertisers’ websites, or email does not represent the views of WSDOT.

More Information
Visit the WSDOT Digital Advertising Pilot Project Web page.