Advertising policy for the LSE website

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The Head of Web Services, acting under the authority of the Library and Information Services Committee, may at any time make changes to this policy.


Operational and ratified by WSG.

Target audience

Web editors and their managers.


Advertising is a well established and prolific form of revenue generation across the web. Traditionally, UK higher education (HE) institutions have steered clear of allowing advertising on their computer networks and the resources available via them. There are numerous reasons including the desire to maintain neutrality and concerns about the effects of advertising upon the user community. However, one concrete reason lies in the JANET Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to which most if not all UK HE institutions subscribe. In terms of unacceptable use, clause 9.5 of the AUP states:

'the transmission of unsolicited commercial or advertising material either to other User Organisations, or to organisations connected to other networks, save where that material is embedded within, or is otherwise part of, a service to which the member of the User Organisation has chosen to subscribe'

In the last two years or so, the scope of this clause has been brought into question and a couple of institutions have opted to allow certain adverts on their websites. In the main, they are either endorsements of products being used by the host institution or declarations of sponsorships. For example, UCL's home and main web pages are sponsored by a third party. In some instances, banner adverts hyperlinked to the websites of well known bookstores are encountered whereby the page's owner receives a percentage of every book bought as a consequence of following the hyperlink. Typically, such adverts are encountered deep within institutional websites and usually on the personal pages of academic staff. It is rare, however, to encounter blatant advertising on institutional websites.

UKERNA, the organisation responsible for advising UK HE institutions on the AUP, has recently started to relax its interpretation of clause 9.5. Recent advice allows adverts that are consistent with the host's primary purpose (ie education and research). Hence the emergence of adverts in the form of endorsements and sponsorships.

The current situation is far from clear. Few institutions have opted to exploit the relaxed interpretation, especially in the absence of a revised AUP for back-up. For those visiting UK HE websites, the experience will be almost entirely advert free. This may change so it is necessary to take a cautious though prepared approach in this time of relative uncertainty.

This policy seeks to clarify what is and what is not acceptable on the LSE website in terms of advertising. The policy is intended to reflect the interests of both the School and its affiliates/ associates, as well as users of the LSE website.

It has been written to be consistent with practice across the HE sector as a whole and to ensure that, in particular, the policy coalesces with the regulations and guidelines of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and UKERNA.

In addition, it is consistent with existing School policies, in particular that relating to officially-recognised School publications, such as the LSE Magazine, in not accepting advertising, sponsoring nor endorsing institutions promoting tobacco; products or behaviour which the School would deem unethical; nor products or activities which are in direct competition with School initiatives.

Definition of terms

The following terms used in the Advertising Policy shall have the meanings set out below:

Endorsement - means presenting a Third Party or the goods or services of that Third Party on the basis that the Third Party supplies goods or services to LSE in any manner that may reasonably cause a User to believe that LSE recommends that Third Party to Users.

Sponsorship - means presenting a Third Party or the goods or services of that Third Party on the basis that the Third Party makes a financial contribution towards the activities of LSE or provides certain goods or services on behalf of LSE in any manner that may reasonably cause a User to believe that LSE recommends that Third Party to Users.

Advertising - means an activity other than Endorsement or Sponsorship under which a Third Party or the goods or services of that Third Party are promoted.

Third Party - means a party (including, without limitation an individual, firm, company, corporation, unincorporated association and partnership) who is not: a member of staff, a student or past student of or in any way connected with or affiliated to LSE.

User - means a person accessing the Website

Website - means the LSE website accessed under the URL

The policy

All Endorsement, Sponsorship and Advertising on the Website are covered by this Advertising Policy and shall be undertaken by LSE in accordance with this Advertising Policy.

Acceptable use

Endorsement and Sponsorship are acceptable provided that the details of such Endorsement or Sponsorship (including, the identity of the relevant Third Party, the relevant goods and services of that Third Party and the nature and wording of such Endorsement or Sponsorship) have been approved in advance under the Consultation provisions.

Advertising is unacceptable and is not permissible on the Website.

Endorsement and Sponsorship can only take the form of web pages or their parts (ie graphics, text and/ or links).

For the avoidance of doubt, the use of the Website for the promotion of LSE and its goods, services and activities is deemed acceptable provided it has been approved in advance under the Consultation provisions below.

Consultation provisions

In the first instance, any requests for or complaints about Endorsement, Sponsorship or Advertising on the Website shall be made in writing to the Manager of Web Services.

The Manager of Web Services will, where appropriate, pass such requests or complaints to the Website Steering Group of LSE (the body authorised to adjudicate on such matters) or its successor.

Throughout the process, the Manager of Web Services will act as the single point of contact for those making requests or complaints.

Where asked by the Manager of Web Services to do so, the Website Steering Group, in consultation with appropriate parties (including the following bodies within LSE: Press and Information, LSE Enterprise and Research and Contracts), will rule on requests for, or complaints about, Endorsement, Sponsorship or Advertising on the Website.

Decisions of the Website Steering Group will be final and will be communicated via the Manager of Web Services.

The Website Steering Group may at any time revisit any previous decision made under this Advertising Policy, whether as a result of a complaint or request made via the Manager of Web Services or the Website Steering Group's own initiative.

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