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New advertising partnership to lower cost of printing on campus

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The cost of printing on campus is getting cheaper thanks to a new partnership between Ohio State and Knowta, a Northeast Ohio-based technology company.

Beginning with Autumn Semester, printing in black and white will be 4 cents per page, more than a 50 percent drop from its current price of 9 cents. Colored prints will fall from 25 cents to 15 cents.

“The goal here … is to give students the opportunity to get what they need printed and when they need it printed at the lowest cost per page,” said Jeff Dible, the director of UniPrint, the university’s division that oversees printing.

Screens equipped with Knota’s adversiting software will be in place near printers in roughly 30 buildings across campus — including Thompson Library, the 18th Avenue Library and some residence halls — displaying advertisements while students wait for their prints

Portions of the revenue generated from the student-targeted advertisements go toward lowering the cost of what students pay for each page.

“The original advertising model operated under the paradigm that the advertiser and the advertising network owners are really the ones who benefited,”  said Anthony Stedillie, the chief executive officer at Knowta.

The idea behind Knowta’s service was to figure out a way to redistribute advertising revenue “in a more equitable sense,” he said. Instead of absorbing the advertisements passively, and perhaps receiving nothing more than a coupon, students now benefit in a material way: by saving money on printing.

Although on the surface 9 cents per black-and-white print seems trivial, the cumulative cost of printing throughout a semester could be burdensome. It is, quite possibly, the very definition of being “nickel-and-dimed.”  Each year, Dible said UniPrint handles four million prints for students.

Stedillie said he recalls during his time in college not printing out sheets of notes he would have preferred having off his screen and on his desk in an attempt to save. It’s a dilemma both he and Dible hope OSU students no longer find themselves in.

The printers being accompanied by screens displaying advertising, most of which will range from 24 to 27 inches, will be those in the most heavily trafficked areas. But if the printer is operated by UniPrint, regardless of if there is a screen or not, the price drop applies.

The price decrease, however, is only on printers operated by UniPrint. Those independently operated by other entities at the university, such as those within the Fisher College of Business, are not affected.

Dible said the university, before entering into the partnership, analyzed potential downsides of having advertising in libraries and residence halls. But the opportunity to ease the financial burden of printing for students was too important, he said.

If, hypothetically, Knowta’s advertising revenue doubled from current projections, in the future, Dible said students could see the price fall close to 2 cents for a black-and-white printing.

“More (ad revenue) can only benefit and reduce the cost for the students,” he said. “It’s a win-win really.”

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