Tag Archives: Media

Is True Christianity Represented on CNN, Discovery, and History Channel?

CNN Belief Blog

Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today? The answer of course, is an emphatic yes, of course we can, but the answer always seems to change depending on who you ask. Our culture is filled with blogs and news articles like the CNN “Belief Blog” and the Washington Post “On Faith” section, which constantly adjust the meaning of Christianity to suit their own needs, mostly to be politically correct. Make no mistake, these are secular institutions, writing for a single collective purpose and goal in mind, to make a monetary profit. These are businesses, and in business to make money (nothing wrong with that).

These news blogs ask good theological questions like Are Mormons Christians?, because they are hot-button topics, but they often give politically correct answers, ones rarely correct to true Christianity. The Mormon question is a great example, where the press wants to find some way for Christianity to accept Mormons as Christians. If they knew the differences between Christianity and what the Mormon’s say they believe, they would understand why this is just never going to happen (see a good article A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine). To a learned Christian, Mormons will never be considered “Christians,” even if the Mormon’s say they are, and that is just one small hot topic today of thousands.

I love the Discovery Channel series “Who is Jesus,” and the History Channel’s The Shroud of Turin, but taking serious Christian spiritual or doctrinal advise from these places would be like determining the true meaning of Christianity via the Discovery Channel and History Channel. Sadly, I’m guessing this is where many people in our culture today decide what true Christianity is and isn’t.

The truth of Christianity of course is only found from Scripture, period. If that’s so can a true biblical view also be presented to our culture by means of a secular for-profit company? I think Charles Schultz was one of the first to try and answer that question in our current day when he had Linus read from the book of Luke. After reading another blog post this morning asking “Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today?”, it made me think… how quickly could you/we/me answer the question? Would the answer come from our deep seeded bias’ we all carry, or would it be a Biblical answer?

There are almost countless ways to answer that question in truth, but here are two quick ways to explain the true and real meaning of Christianity. It’s simple… we make it complex.

  • John 13:35 Jesus says :: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (something also expanded on by Paul in Romans 12:9-21)
  • Romans 10:9-10 Paul says: That is the outpouring of our decision for Christ… “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”

Those are just two quick ways to answer that question, there are many more.

5 Reasons Why You Can't Ignore Facebook Anymore

I have always loved this clip from Friends where Chandler goes in and tries to “quit the gym” Everyone who has ever joined a gym like Gold’s Gym or President’s knows… it’s impossible to quit the gym, but today, it’s even harder to ignore Facebook than it is to quit the gym.

This week I started reading Tim Challies new book called The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion, which talks about how to balance our faith with the explosion of technology. Challies makes a great point to say right off, completely removing ourselves from all forms of technology is not what we are called to do, or as Challies puts it “there is no biblical reason to utterly separate ourselves from them“, but we must be disciplined and discerning.

We cannot run away from digital technology—mobile phones and computers and the Internet and television are likely to be with us in one form or another for some time. Nor would we necessarily want to run away from them. Certainly, not all technology is harmful or dangerous. Is there a way, then, to live virtuously, immersed in this strange new digital reality?

Today, Facebook has made it far more difficult to get away from than it ever was years ago, and I have tried for years to stay far far away from Facebook. The short of it is, if you are in business, work for a non-profit organization, or are part of any organized group at all, it’s almost impossible for you not to have a presence on Facebook. And if you don’t, your organization, peers, co-workers, and friends, do, and they will be exchanging ideas, planing meetings, and discussing the overall day to day business of the “group” whether you are there or not.

It’s not that you personally have to be in the know on every single piece of information that goes on in your organization, but where meetings and information use to be exchanged face to face, they now can (and are) easily take place between private Facebook groups and even the new Facebook messaging system. If you are not on Facebook, you are out of the loop at this point. They may not be a big deal to you at all, but it’s more than finding out who went where on vacation, it’s impacting the world within your sphere of influence.

Reasons You Can’t Ignore Facebook Anymore

  1. Facebook is Where EVERYONE Connects Now
  2. This is basically everything Facebook has going for them in a nut shell, with 600 million people on Facebook, there is no other single organization that has more people connected and has a bigger area of influence. Yes there are far more than 600 million people in the world, but that is the single largest collection of people in one single organized area, and Facebook really hasn’t scratched the surface yet of what they can do, especially in China.

    Facebook has been embraced collectively by people and groups all across the world that never agree about anything, everyone from churches to commercial organizations, to government entities, to even the Vatican.

  3. You’re Kids Are or Will Be on Facebook
  4. Even if you don’t let your kids on Facebook yet, eventually they are going to go to college or get a job, and chances are they will end on Facebook, mainly because that’s where all their friends are. You don’t have to use Facebook to spy on your children but not knowing how it works or what Facebook is all about leaves you on the outside looking in. There are a thousand other things that go along with this but I’ll leave those points to someone who knows more about the subject at hand.

  5. It’s a Buy-in Method for Group Communications
  6. Your church, non-profit, charity, company, softball team, any group of like minded people can and will meet on Facebook. I have spent several years trying to find a better communications method that didn’t include Facebook and, while there were many great options, buy in was difficult outside of Facebook. No one wants to learn a new system and keep up with something new when they are already on Facebook.

  7. Someone Else Will Speak For Your Organization
  8. This is one of the biggest reasons to me. If you are not on Facebook as a company or organization, you are leaving a huge void that is going to be filled by someone, and probably not someone your organization has invested hours and hours in, like yourself, developing that organizational DNA. Eventually someone will make the “abc group” that represents your organization, and everyone on Facebook will join in and develop your presence for you. This is never a good idea. Your organizations has probably spent an enormous amount of time and energy into developing a specific marketing and organizational plan, why leave your business to the untrained masses where they can run wild with your image or passions, especially when it’s free?

  9. There Will Never Again Be a World Without Facebook
  10. We are not going to wake up one day in a world before Facebook. It is best to learn and understand how Facebook functions and use it to our advantage than to ignore the single largest organization of people on the planet. This is an organization that started in February of 2004. It isn’t even 10 years old yet and it has 600 million users! It’s not a fad, it’s not a passing gimmick, it’s a privately held company, estimated to be worth over $50 billion.

    I spent years trying to just ignore the Facebook monster, but in the end, it goes back to my first point, it’s where everyone is. I have thought about pulling the Facebook plug and deleting my account many times but there are many people I communicate with on a weekly basis that only communicate through Facebook. Some people are ok with just not communicating, but if part of your job includes “communication” of any kind, I don’t see how you operate without Facebook, even if it’s just a user ID.

So there it is, my Facebook rundown. This really only scratches the surface of what is Facebook. I can’t imagine the influence Facebook with have in another 5 years when they have 2-3 billion users. As with all technology, there are things about Facebook that aren’t cool, and aspects that enable great connectivity with other people. Learn how to use Facebook, understand the privacy issues that go along with being on Facebook, but don’t ignore Facebook because you don’t understand it.

The Start of the Tea Party in America

Today all across the country people came out to protest the taxes and spending our government started months ago and has continued into present day. After flipping through the mainstream media outlets, even CNN, I have determined that they just don’t get it. They portray this to be a GOP or Republican thing and they are so far from understanding that people are fed up with our government overspending, growing larger and larger, and more importantly today, ever-increasing the taxation (in various forms) its citizens.

Amazon Kindle iPhone App and the Future of Paper vs eBooks?

iphone-kindle

macbook kindle

This morning Amazon released the new Kindle iPhone App, or an iPhone eBook reader.  Since I do not yet (but probably will soon) have a Kindle the news of the Kindle iPhone app was really intriguing, but I started wondering if the app was putting the horse before the cart.  The very first reaction on the Internet was people saying they were disappointed they bought the Kindle and now they can get this on their iPhone.  Totally wrong way to look at it altogether.  What Amazon did by making an iPhone app for the Kindle was make their product more relevant and more useful than it was last week.

I won’t go through a comparison between the two, there is a great review over on CNET, see Comparing Kindle 2 with Kindle’s iPhone app, but one of the great features is being able to read a book between the two devices.  It doesn’t come quite as close as Seth Godin’s request in Reinventing the Kindle (part II) to share books between Kindle users, but it comes closer.  If Amazon keeps going down this road they will really make the Kindle a breakthrough device.

Breakthrough in the same way the iPod was for music, the Kindle can potentially be for books.  Everyone grumbled about the price of the iPod, and it took until the 2nd generation for me to plunk down the money for one, but after a while, people realized that the iPod revolutionized the way we listen to music.  There will always be people who want to read on paper, but for many, paper is a hassle, uses trees, and culturally is on the same track and path as Kodak 400 speed print film, but it’s more than just that.  Don’t blink, traditional media is going fast, and in some cases pretty much gone.

  • Photography – Print Film —> Digital (almost totally complete at this point)
  • Music – Vinyl –> Tapes –> CD –> Digital (niche markets for anything non-digital)
  • Movies – Film –> Tape –> DVD –> Download (slower but almost there)
  • TV – Tube –> Cable –> Satellite  –> Streaming Live (computer only is coming)
  • Books – Paper –> eBooks / Digital (the slowest of the 4, but catching up)
  • Magazines / Newspapers –> Paper –> Digital (totally dying media in paper form)

My wife is currently working on her Master’s degree and last semester she spent something like $300-$400 on books.  After the Kindle 2 came out, I started looking at which books she bought were available on the Kindle.  About 30-40% of them are currently available, at $9.99-$15.  She paid $40-$50 for some of these books which can now be downloaded on the Kindle for $10.  Doesn’t take a genius to figure out the savings potential for College students all over the world, and seeing that Amazon is working on things like iPhone Apps is only going to make the Kindle more and more relevant in our society’s future.

kindle iphone app

Sometimes we go kicking and screaming into the future, and change comes with a fight. The Kindle / iPhone app is a great example of a transition of all forms of media to digital, it’s just a question of how long will we hold on to the past print mediums because that is what we are use to today.

Update March 2011

I have since written an update to this post in light of the iPad, which makes eBooks even more appealing, you can read that posts Printed Books vs iPad or Kindle eBooks and the Future of Books

Jill Greenberg Photos of The Manipulator Political Pornography?

Sometimes it really amazes me who is called a photographer and who isn’t. Photography takes on many many forms from journalist to fine artist and everything in between.  When one photographer is able to garner the spotlight of the news for political purposes, such as what Jill Greenberg has done this week with her photo shoot with John McCain, purposely misleading her client, has done harm to the profession of photography for all photographers.

Outside of that, for someone to manipulate an image to the extent that Jill Greenberg has done, takes photography out of the work and inserts something else.  One person put it on the news last night, what Jill Greeberg has done is political pornography, which is an insult to pornographers.  I was so disgusted by the images she posted on her website and that were shown on Fox News and CNN that I don’t know how anyone can call her a photographer.  In the end, at least the Atlantic Monthly has apologized for her representing their magazine, but they shouldn’t have to do that, a photographer should work in a professional manner, no matter what the subject.

The editor of The Atlantic Monthly said Monday he is sending a letter of apology to John McCain after a woman the magazine hired to photograph the Republican presidential nominee posted manipulated pictures from the photo shoot on her Web site. Photographer Jill Greenberg, who is vehemently anti-Republican and expressed glee that the photos would stir up conservative ire, took pictures of McCain for the cover of The Atlantic’s October issue.

Did anyone even notice that this woman is Canadian?  There seem to be so many non-U.S. citizens that seem to want to influence the election, and these are the tactics I guess are needed to do just what she has done, but she has done a true dis-service to all photographers at this point. If you look at it from a blogging perspective or google, she has accomplished exactly what she wanted… to create a fire storm of media attention (and bloggers, see Jill Greenberg Is Not Afraid To Dump All Her Clients At Once, Low blow, The Atlantic should have Googled Jill Greenberg before hiring her, and Fallout From Jill Greenberg’s McCain Images just to name a few) to her disgusting manipulations of the photography profession.

What new mountains of paper work will form from her stunt that will have to be signed, released, political backgrounds checked and so on.  Most photographers I have met would never behave in this manner at all, and I am glad she doesn’t represent me or any photographers that I know.  So that is my rant on the business of photography.  I have yet to find someone on either side of the political isle that is willing to defend her actions, I hope none arise.

Learning New CSS Stylesheets, Themes, and Design Code

I neglected by blog posts this weekend and instead opted for a new design, look, or fell, or whatever. I was trying to consolidate some older pages, and make it a little easier to get around the information I have posted already.  I am still putting the finishing touches on some of the graphics but you get the idea now. I would love to hear what you think about the new design, what can be improved or changed. This is a busy week coming up, our new study over at the Damascus blog is starting in Romans and will be posted on Tuesday.

Learning to Use a Stylesheet and PHP

Over time I have had to learn how to use a CSS or Stylesheet and some basic PHP.  As I have leaned more and more code I have found a bit of freedom to be able to change and adjust things to be exactly the way I want them to be, and in the process be able to mess things up as well.  I would really recommend learning as much code as you possibly can, over time, it will be invalueble to you since everything runs on code.

Adding a Little More Journal to my Blog by Example

Flowers outside Baylor Hospital

This is the first post in a daily journal I hope to update each day, even if just a little blurb, about the days happenings. This type of posting, more closely resembles a journal, was inspired by the memory of my mother in-law, Georgia Christal. I am creating a blog with the journals she created long before blogs ever existed, I hope I can keep up with her.  During a span of 3 years when she lived over seas in Europe, she wrote daily about what happened each day, and looking at it almost 10 years later, I can see what an amazing piece of work this turned out to be. I will make an attempt to write a daily post in this particular blog (I have several others), of just the normal routine of things.

Some days it may be a sentence, some paragraphs, but my goal is to write something in the blog each day. I have been a photographer for more than 10 years now, and one of the hardest things to do in photography is to actually get off your butt and go shoot something. I think it is the same with blogs or journals, you just have to get off your butt and do it.

When I look back at the images I was able to create because I took the time to go out and shoot, I am amazed, and glad I did make the effort.

Is a Blog a Blog or is it a Journal

All you bloggers out there, do you keep a daily journal, or is that really what you consider your blog to be?  This blog has been active and alive in various forms for years now, and when I look back at the various entries, I see a journal of what was important enough, at the time, to actually put down in a post.  My blog has been many things to me, a scrapbook, a blog, a journal, a business tool, soapbox, but that is just it, it can be whatever you want it to be. Today as I start writing daily entries of what went on in my day I will use it as a journal or diary of sorts, but I am sure down the road, it will grow into something more.  What about your blog?  What is the prime use or purpose you have for even having a blog… do you know or have you even thought about it yet?

In Dallas For No Good Reason

So what is going on right now.  Well the photo below was taken yesterday of my mother-in-law’s memorial service, so we happen to be in Dallas for her service.  One of the hardest weeks Deborah and I have gone through in a while but we are now on our way back home, finally.  I took many photos (on my iphone) that few days while we were in the hospital, mainly because all you have to do is sit and wait.  In the future I think I will do a much longer post about this week, but for now, here are a few images from those few days.

Scott at the hospital, self portrait

Georgia's Memorial Service

The photo in the middle is the most telling to me.  I had nothing in the way of a camera to use for about the week we were in and out of the hospital other than my iphone, and I think it did an incredible job.  In total I probably took a few hundred photos with my phone, many of which tell the days and week better than these, but for a first journal entry, this is what we did yesterday and the few days before.  The idea of a “journal” actually came to me from Georgia.  She kept two journals while they lived in France and Germany which I am chronicling in My Life in Europe.  There will be better entries than this, I promise.

Is Writing a Guest Post Article Worth the Time

I have looked at writing as a guest contributor to several blogs and sites and finally took the plunge when I read another article about a marketing company looking for some guest post articles. Each company or person’s needs are different, so as a content writer, your skills might not always match the needed content, but when it does you should consider writing a guest article.

There are some key questions to ask yourself before you decide to write the article and I will discuss a few of those below. If you would like to see the 3 part article you can visit allinanchor, or read the first part of the article, You Don’t Have to Run From the Online Competition, Part 1, and follow the link to the second and third article at the bottom.

Is It Worth Your Time

There are so many factors that will go into your decision to be a contributing writer but one of the main things to look at should be your time. I will list the items below I believe are the most important in factoring in the time it is going to take to write a high quality article for another site.

Don’t expect another business to want your second hand articles or take what you have left over. You will have to spend the time it takes to do it right, and you will want to, after all, it is your name that will be associated with the article.

How Much Time Will it Actually Take

If you want to write a high quality article you can expect it to take some time to put together. No company is going to want a content writer that throws something together in five minutes and then hands it over. Take a close look at how long it will take, and if you actually have the time to do the project.

Be honest with yourself. You may have all the qualities and abilities to write this article but you may not realistically have the time to do it. Look at how much research is involved, how much detail you normally put into an article, and what is required by the company.

Plan to spend several hours putting all the information together, writing the article, editing, proofing, and all the necessary things to give the company a completely finished product.

What are the Requirements for the Article

The article I wrote for allinachor was a three part article in about 2500 words, so it did take several hours to put together and write. Make sure you know going in what the company wants in the way of an article. How long does it need to be, does it need photos or images, and what category it should be posted to.

You should also find out what specific topic should be discussed. Some times this is up to the writer but many times the site will need a specific direction for the article and it is important to follow that guideline to complete a successful article.

Will it Take Away From Your Own Blog

Any time writing for another blog will take time away from your own blog. Do you have this time to spare? You can prepare articles for your own blog in advance if you don’t have time to do both at the same time, but be sure your time spent on other blogs doesn’t harm your own interests.

Is the Topic One You Can Write About Intelligently

I once read that a problem with some bloggers is that they never met a plugin they didn’t like. Well, you don’t have to take every article opportunity you come across, especially if the topic is something you can not discuss with some kind of previous knowledge or experience.

Be sure you know what you are talking about. The Internet can reach so many people that there is certainly going to be someone reading your article that knows more about the subject matter than you do, so you should make sure that everything you write about is as well researched as possible.

What is the Compensation For the Work

So why are you considering writing a contributing article anyway? Is it for money, for exposure on the site or blog, or both? Your work and time are worth something and you shouldn’t just give it away for no reason. If you do this, please, contact me, I have several jobs I would love to have you work with.

Most content writers will not consider doing an article for exposure only. Their business is in writing and the exposure comes with the article but their objective, as most in business, is to make a living of some kind. Know what kind of compensation is offered up front and agree on the given compensation before you write the article.

Do Not Expect Total Control Over the Finished Product

Are you a total detail freak like me? If so, you probably pay attention to the most minuet detail of each post or article. I specifically choose my links, my anchor tags, headings, alt tags, title tags and so on. Once you give the article to the company, you have sold the rights to that article, and they can pretty much do what they want with it.

It is still your copyrighted material, but if they don’t want to use your alt tags or links you might find them to be missing once the article is published. Don’t be surprised by this. If you want complete and total control over the final product be sure to mention this up front before it is handed over to the company for publishing.

Conclusion

There are several reasons you might consider writing a guest post for another blog, but be sure you have the time to complete the job in a professional manner and on time. Make sure you can answer the questions you have in min. How much does it pay, what benefit will it be to the company and you as a content writer? Is it worth the time it will take me to finish the project?

Make Your 404 File Not Found Page Work for You and Keep Error Traffic

404 File Page Not Found ErrorHow much do you pay attention to your 404 page? Do you know what your 404 page is or how it works? You can receive this error response for various reasons but the main reason is someone or something has tried to access a page on your blog or store that doesn’t exist anymore.   This also represents lost traffic for your blog or store that you can direct somewhere else, within your site.  Make this page work to your advantage. Making the best use of these queries can bring the user back into your site instead of showing a dead page that will most likely cause the visitor to move on to some site that doesn’t show errors on their site.

There are many reasons a site will report a 404 file not found error, but knowing how they work, who tried to access the missing file (a search engine or person), and knowing which page or title they were trying to access is all important information to have when working with the traffic of your blog.

What is a Server Response 404 File Page Not Found

The 404 error page has been with us as long as there have been web pages, and for the most part is a request for a page that doesn’t exist on your site.  This can be displayed for more reasons that just a file was not found that was once there, and is no longer.  You could have re-named a url in your blog to correct a spelling error, which will make the original url incorrect.  You could have deleted a file, or a search engine could be doing its own thing. Wikipedia states it like this:

The 404 or Not Found error message is an HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server but either the server could not find what was requested, or it was configured not to fulfill the request and not reveal the reason why.

We have all come across these pages from time to time, some have even made some humorous cases out of the 404 page, but either way, it is an error as far as the visitor goes, and you want to convert these visitors in some useful manner, not have them leave because they think your site is not working properly.

Customize The 404 Page to Increase Traffic Conversions

You can make this page useful by doing some basic customization to what is seen when the 404 error response is given.

Chipseo 404 File Not Found Page

The standard domain or blog usually has access to the 404 page just like a normal .php or .html page that is called when a specific url address is given. You can see an example on my blog when you type in any url that doesn’t exist and you can also see how other domains handle their 404 pages by doing the same thing. It can be any url that doesn’t exist, like http://www.scottfillmer.com/tHisPagEofMinE (which doesn’t exist) will show you how this one is setup.

When you customize the page make sure you say a few things.

  • Explain in lay terms what page the visitor has reached and why
  • Offer a way out, at least back to the main page
  • Provide useful links or additional articles to the visitor to click through
  • Use your standard design layout so it looks the same as the other pages
  • Try to avoid the standard “ERROR” language, look, and feel

I have used my 404 page like I would any other page on my blog. I setup a static sitemap of sorts with a short explanation of the page they have reached and what the visitor can do at that point.

Monitor Your 404 Page Requests

Something I didn’t think about at first was to keep an eye on which pages are getting requested. There are several ways you can do this. If you are running a blog, the easiest way is to use a plugin. There is a very good WordPress Plugin by Alex King called the 404 Notifier that will send you an email or rss feed of your 404 page requests.

404 Notifier WordPress Plugin

This plugin is easy to use and install and it provides you a list of exactly which page addresses are being requested. I was surprised at home many pages were being requested, but I never would have know without looking at the list being created.

If you are not working on a blog but on an ecommerce store site check with your hosting provider for exact details on how to access the 404 file page. A good way to monitor non-blog related pages is to use Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster tools will give you the page in question, the date, and the actual server response.  Knowing who these errors are coming from is also a very big help in correcting them as well.  Being notified every single time your site reports a 404 error can be somewhat annoying when you have a lot of errors, but the information is very helpful.  Look at who the error was referred by.  Some most recent examples from my blog look like this:

There are several pieces of information each email will provide.  A “referred by” and a “user agent”.  Sometimes you will have both pieces of the information, sometimes one one or the other.  Referred by above is a mail system, which mean someone (a person) probably clicked on a link in the email and was taken to a 404 error.  The user agent mozilla is a browser, like Firefox.  Bot’s refer to search engine robots or spiders that crawl your site to deliver traffic to your blog.  Once these spiders find a 404 error they will often notate that and not index the page again.

There are many different responses you can get for errors like this.  If you are unfamiliar with any of them, follow the link they give you if there is one, if not, google the user agent and find out who it is.  Most likely it will be some type of indexing system for the Internet.

Correct the 404 Errors If You Can

If you are going to monitor the 404 error reports you should also do something with that information. I couldn’t believe how many error reports were being generated, but I noticed some of them should be, and could be, eliminated by changing a few page titles around. There could be a typo in your url or a page you deleted by accident could be re-uploaded. There are probably several 404 reports that you could eliminate just by correct a few actual errors you weren’t aware existed.

Check the Results in Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools

Once you have found and corrected some of these errors you can check the various stat tracking sites to see the results you have accomplished. What is great about these two particular tools is that when a page is not found and then the visitor goes to a page that is found, you can get an idea of how many visitors are utilizing your 404 file not found page.

In Google Analytics check to see where the user came from. If you know it is a page that didn’t or doesn’t exist then you know your 404 file not found page was utilized to bring the visitor back into your site. Following the example I noted above, when I check my stats for traffic on the page http://www.scottfillmer.com/tHisPagE I know this page doesn’t exist. When I see traffic to other pages that came from that particular page, I know the user clicked on a link on my 404 page.

What Does Your Company Do With the 404 Error?

There are so many different way to deal with your 404 file not found error. Some don’t know or choose not to do anything, but I think you can utilize your 404 page to work for you and bring traffic back into your store or blog. Don’t loose traffic that would otherwise stay if it wasn’t for an error on your page.

Does your company have a specific procedure for handling 404 requests? Share it with us.

Reasons to Look at Alternatives to Google Adsense

In my last post, Reasons to Keep Running Google Adsense Ads, I looked at some good reasons to keep running Google Adsense ads, or to consider using them on your blog or eCommerce website. Here I will take a look at some of the other marketing options available, examine some of the less desirable effects of the Adsense program, and make some conclusions about the points made from these two articles.

This is not a bash Adsense article, obviously I use them myself, but what all business owners should do, look at as many options as they can and decided which one fits the best according to their business needs. On a side note, I have an upcoming set of articles that examines both sides of Google Adwords too, so stay tuned.

Marketing is Not One Size Fits All

All you have to do it run a search for Adsense and you will see so many different responses for and against using these type of ads, and it might be hard to tell what really works. I think the real answer to that questions is what works for you may not work for me and vice-versa. Each site is so different, has different goals and objectives, but sooner or later, if your store or site keeps growing you will need to look at some online marketing, either to buy some ads (which would be Google Adwords) or to sell them (Adsense), but the growing opportunities available with smaller companies continues to grow each day.

More and more businesses are becoming very specialized. It is important for these niche markets businesses to look at different options that will benefit your company, not just right now, but options that will enhance what will be your long term marketing plan. In the same manner that eCommerce shopping companies have become a collection of niche markets, so are the options available in the online marketing field itself. Look for companies that specialize in your niche market or are at least familiar with your companies specific needs.

Adsense is a great one size fits all ad program, and you can even get very specific with their affiliate ads but there are so many other good online marketing companies today that it is only prudent to not limit your business to one particular company or ad program.

You are Advertising for Your Competition

I generally write from the perspective of the company or store site selling a product, so talking about Adsense is really the opposite of what companies should look at when they are trying to sell a product, right? After all, you are selling your products, not someone else’s, so looking at selling ads on your site might be counterproductive. For this example I think Blog About Crafts put it best on a recent post called, Adsense Kills Business, where she talks about the difference between running a business and a hobby. Treat your business like a hobby and that is what it is, treat your hobby like a business and chances are, you are in business. You do generally have to act and look like a professional to be a professional.

There is a big difference from a personal site like Blog About Crafts and a professional services or product selling site

Look at the screen shot below. I grabbed the header from the online store page that sells crystals and beads. At the top, the ad shown will take people away from the store you are looking at and at bare minimum will show other options to your own store or site. The Adsense links at the top are taken right off the content of the store selling the same products. Now sometimes this is what you want to do. You might be networking between several different companies and some reciprocal links may be called for, but Adsense is not a reciprocal link program.

Google Adsense

Does it Add Value to Your Company

Marketing should not only add value to the company you are advertising for, but it should also add value to your company. This may sound strange but there has to be an exchange of value for it to be worth doing. This is the whole concept of business and what you are doing by selling your products or services. Someone else finds a value in what you are selling and gives you something of value in exchange.

This is going to be different depending on what your company goals ultimately are for your business. Usually the value added to your company is going to be money paid to you for advertising. If your main market is to sell advertising to pay for the production and maintenance of your site (much like Google itself), then it may very well add value to your site, but you still need to look at how much value it adds.

Adsense may pay, eventually (see previous article), but I haven’t found returns that would be considered great by any means, at least not something that could be called “revenue” to me. The value exchange should be as close to equal as possible. I.e. a highly valued area of your site should produce an expected return, so be sure that you have some way to measure if you are giving a whole lot more to your advertiser than you are receiving in return. This doesn’t have to be exact, but it shouldn’t be totally unequal. Many times I think the Adsense program has been so successful for Google because they get so much coverage on so many sites with very little payment in return.

One key to this is testing. There is a good article on Blogging Experiment, How to Find AdSense Alternatives for Your Site, lists several alternative companies and options, but also makes a good point when he says testing is a very important part of finding good alternatives. Many companies offer a 30 day trial if it is a paid monthly service, others will give you some kind of credit that should give you an idea of how well it will work. One problem with this is it might not be a long enough period of time to see an actual return if you ran it continuously.

Don’t Keep All Your Marketing Eggs in One Basket

This is a simple point but one worth mentioning. You can continue to develop your site or store, increase your traffic, sales, subscriptions, and use just one marketing company but if something ever happens you have to just start over again. If you build up high enough revenues (a good thing, yes), but with only one company, if and when that revenue is ever lost your company will suffer much more so than if you spread the marketing revenue around to a few different sources.

You can do a quick search and find many examples of people that have been banned from using Google’s Adsense program for one reason or another. From my experience on eBay, it seems to work the same way with Google, once you are gone, you are gone, no questions or appeal needed, and it doesn’t always seem to be that hard to do.

SEO Refugee wrote a rather nerve racking article, Get ANY Adsense Account Banned, which explained in some detail how easy it is to get an account banned. After reading that you really hope the competition people who might not care all that much for your company doesn’t get a hold of that information. Granted it does require the other party to really do some work, but some don’t care how the get rid of the competition, just that they do. This unethical practice is terrible to say the very least, but I have to assume it exists and Google should have something in place to prevent this type of fraud from happening.

Complexity and Unknowns

This is not referring to the complexity of implementing the program, I actually stated the opposite on my previous post, but the complexity that is Google and the unknown that goes along with their programs and services. As with any company of Google’s size it is very hard to know what their internal checks and balances are and how they effect their own customers. Google, for good reason, keeps their proprietary data and development information very secret so it is hard to know what might effect your marketing campaign and what might not.

One issue that has come up recently is the paid link topic and how or if Google will penalize a site for using paid links. Google has actually provided some good information about this topic lately, see my article, Matt Cutts Updates Google’s nofollow Use, and it has been very helpful, but it has taken a while to get to that point of knowing what to do and what not to do. From Google’s perspective it is about stopping spam, not necessarily paid links, but if use paid links as part of your marketing campaign you should know what effect it might have on your Google indexing and your marketing campaign.

It isn’t really what you know, but what you don’t. The issues that Google faces are not going to be the same as your company, and they are going to do what is in the best interest of their company, just like everyone in business. Google is in business to make a profit, not to make sure your company has enough ad revenue. Once identified, those interests may be contrary to your business efforts. They may not be, but the point is you don’t know. Good business practice says to minimizing the risks as much as possible, and that is very fluid, sometimes you don’t know what those will be from one moment to the other.

Affiliates Can Offer a Good Value

Google Adsense is one of these, yes, but there are many different affiliate companies (Commission Junction being of the biggest) and there are some very good programs to look at, even with smaller company’s websites. Many companies now offer their own affiliate program where you can earn a return or you can pay others to be affiliates for you to send traffic to your site. This post won’t be detailed enough to get into all the different platforms that affiliates offer but they are very extensive.

A new project I found this weekend looks to be very promising, called the Rubicon Project, it allows you to control all your different affiliate programs in one place. They are just in Beta testing right now but the feedback so far has been very positive, according to one of the founders of the project. I will post a full review of their company in an upcoming post and go into more detail about affiliate programs in that article.

Conclusion

Marketing your products or services takes a lot of work, research, testing, and perseverance. There are many online options available for just about any niche market company or blog, look around, do your homework, see what else might fit your business needs in addition to Google Adsense (or Adwords for that matter). Remember that results won’t happen overnight, but using alternative ad companies will minimize your risk and should continue to add value to your company.

Try to use a balanced and well planned out approach. Re-read your marketing plans and goals and see if what you are doing will meet those goals. Online marketing, no matter who you use or what method you employ, should offer at least an equal return for your exchange of time, money, or space on your website. If not, you might want to look for another option. If you want to keep running the same ads for no return, that is fine too, just let me know, I would love to place an ad on your site for free… any takers?