Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

May 28, 2009

You keep saying Privacy, but it don’t mean what you think it does.

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 9:54 am

Part of my work at noslang.com involves educating parents about how to “monitor” their teens online. I’ve written several articles in the past about how parents should be involved with their kids online. I don’t talk about spying, but I do talk about adding them as friends on facebook, keeping the computer in an open area of the house (which is pretty impossible with the rise of laptops,) and sitting down to talk with your teen about being safe on the internet.

Often times, the best solution for internet safety, privacy, and security is to just talk with your teen and let them know what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Plain old parental involvement is usually the best solution for any “teen” style problem.

For some reason though, most congressmen don’t feel that way. They all feel we need silly laws to help us raise our children online. Maybe it’s because they spend so much time secluded away from their own offspring, or perhaps it’s just that they’re all out of touch with reality.

I’m talking about the latest bill, the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (2.0) – where congress is seeking to update the 1998 bill to basically make the internet less private while bragging about protecting privacy.

If you read the bill, there’s several times where it talks about increased privacy while actually doing the opposite. So, to be clear, I’d like to remind the government about a key difference in terms:

Privacy – is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively.

Security – is the condition of being protected.

Now, I’m not a linguistics major, but it seems to me that anytime you require more information from me, it’s decreasing my privacy.

I’m talking about the bill’s requirements for age verification and parental consent. There’s going to be a whole bunch of data collected by websites to enforce this. More data that I don’t want to give you means less privacy. It also means less free speech and more opportunities for data to be abused.

Since it would be a US law, it also means that anybody in the social networking space would be best to start their company anywhere but in the USA – so the law wouldn’t apply to them.

If you’re serious about protecting the privacy of teens online, take the opposite approach. Privacy is all about letting the user control what data he or she wants to share . Anytime you make a law requiring a user to share information you’re sacrificing his privacy.

If I were making a privacy law, it would have 2 major components. The first would be to limit what information websites can store without clear consent, and how long they can store it. The second would be to limit who can propose bills about the internet to those who actually understand the internet – and that rules out everybody in the house and senate, and most of those in the white house.

May 20, 2009

dotCULT on the Kindle!

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:52 am

Just a quick note for Kindle owners: You can now get dotCULT updates on your kindle. Amazon charges $1.99, but it sounds like they’ll push blog updates right to your device. You can subscribe at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002AKKDGO.

I don’t currently own a Kindle, but if you do and choose to subscribe, let me know how it works.

May 11, 2009

Free Refill Marketing

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:19 pm

I’m sitting at the food court in the mall eating lunch, and I just had a very interesting conversation with the manager of Sbarro Pizza. It seems that while most food court eateries don’t offer drink refills, Sbarro does. In fact, they even went so far as to remind me that I can get a refill when I paid for my food.

Anybody who’s ever worked in fast food knows that you’re not supposed to advertise the refill. It’s all about maximizing profits. So why did this manager go out of the way to remind me? Simple: brand marketing.

What better way is there to market your brand than to have your customers carry around a giant cup with your logo on it while they’re shopping? You’d be surprised how much that marketing can influence a customer, this company does wide format printing that can attract tons of customers.

After thinking about it for a second, I couldn’t help thinking about Google Adwords. I know what you’re thinking – that some of the connections in my brain have gone haywire – but hear me out.

When most small businesses think of Google Adwords they seem to focus on one metric: Cost per click. If you’ve ever done SEM for clients you’ll know what I’m talking about. Even if they’re getting 150% ROI out of it, they still cringe when they hear something like $3 per click. I suspect that the cost per click focused mentality also has a lot to do with why many small businesses aren’t advertising on Google. It’s a shame.

What the Sbarro cup reminded me of was the branding potential of Google Adwords. The best part of using Adwords for branding is that it doesn’t even require people to click.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose I type in “hair style.” I’m going to get results for various hair styles, but I’m also going to get ads for hair salons. I’ll most likely see “Jeff’s hair salon – first haircut free” in the ads, and skip it over while I look at examples of hair styles. I’m not yet in the “looking for a hair salon” part of my buying cycle so I’ll click the result about different styles.

Fast forward a few days. I’ve already figured out how I want my hair cut, and on the ride home from work I drive past Jeff’s hair salon. I think to myself: “hey, I’ve heard of them” and stop in for my free hair cut. Jeff didn’t pay me anything, but the mere fact that his company name was showing up resulted in me coming in for a haircut – even if I didn’t really remember how I’ve heard of him.

This type of stuff happens all the time – and larger brands excel at it. Think about a Nike or Pepsi commercial. Think about the crazy commercials you’ve seen during the Super Bowl. They’re not selling you something, they’re simply putting their brand’s name out there to get you thinking about it. There’s a reason for that – it works!

Your small business might not have the marketing budget of national brands, but you don’t need it. What you truly need is health and safety support for small business owners in the UK. Thanks to Google’s ability to only show your ad to local customers you can achieve the same result – for less cost than giving out free refills!

May 9, 2009

Do You Talk To Dead People?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 5:03 pm

I couldn’t help but think about funerals and cemeteries lately. At least in America, it’s pretty custom for grievers to approach the corpse in the casket and say some words to the deceases. I did it recently at my grandfather’s funeral – and later at one of my old hockey coaches. I’m sure you’ve all done it too – you thank them for all they’ve done and tell them how much you love them and will miss them. It’s completely normal.

It’s also normal to visit them in the cemetery from time to time and visit. My mom and grandmother regularly visit my grandfather’s headstone, and I’ve been known to do it from time to time. It’s normal right?

Then I started thinking about it from a purge rational standpoint. Given my current belief system, I’m pretty damn sure all that time I was just talking to myself. There’s no way any of them actually heard me – they’re dead. In fact, if I were talking to a dead person anywhere else other than the cemetery – say perhaps at a coffee shop – everybody within earshot would probably think I’m crazy?

So why do we do it? Why do most people continue to have conversations with people who not only can’t respond, but can’t hear you either?

Sure, there’s religious reasons here, but those aren’t good enough to answer the question. Besides, even thinking that our loved ones would be sitting up in heaven watching our every move is pretty selfish. What makes us that important?

Let’s entertain the idea that heaven actually exists. If I were to suddenly die and go to heaven the first thing I’d do would be to re-unite with my parents and grandparents. I’d then probably throw back a few beers with Sinatra and then finally figure out whether or not all dogs actually go to heaven. Sure, given the possibility, I’d check in on people here on earth – but I’d be more concerned with living in paradise than following what’s happening down here. Besides, they’d make it up there eventually anyway.

From a pure logical standpoint, it’s pretty certain that any time spent talking to the dead is just time spent talking to ourselves – so why do we do it?

We do it because it’s comforting and often times helpful. Talking to the deceased forces us to answer our own questions from their point of view. In a way, it’s very similar to praying. When we ask for God’s advice we’re not really hearing God, we’re putting ourselves in God’s shoes and looking at ourselves through a religious point of view. (no, not the AL Bundy invented ones with individual toes – I’m speaking metaphorically here.)

The same goes for our loved ones. We’d all like dearly to forgive ourselves for something or other, and we all know that grandma would have forgiven us no matter what – so we speak to grandma and then imagine ourselves as her telling us everything is OK. When we’re proud of something we tell grandpa about it and imagine him saying “that a boy” as he pats us on the back. We use our memories of our loved ones to conjure up images of them acting how we perceived them. It’s comforting.

So does talking to deceased loved ones make us crazy, or is it simply a coping method that we have to help us deal with life’s ups and downs?

May 8, 2009

Paid Traffic Sites – A Scam

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:36 am

It seems that at least 3 times a day I see another traffic site for sale on sitepoint (yes i nofollowed that)

If you’re not familiar with a “traffic site” it’s quite a simple concept. The website offers to sell a certain amount of visitors for a price. The one I linked is selling 100 visitors for $3.

Another site that was sold by the same seller (this one is jvisits.com) was offering 3000 visitors for $2. That seemed like an incredible deal to me, so I went and did it. In fact, I did it for 2 sites. I did it for one major site that gets lots of traffic, and another site that got no traffic.

The first site I sent their traffic to was already receiving a few hundred visits per day. Within 24 hours I was sent a link to etracklive.com to check the status of my “visits.” A few hours later it showed over 1000 visitors to this site – however my daily total visitors according to analytics was only 850 – and google adsense showed less than 1000 impressions for that day.

Being skeptical of google tools, I changed the code on the 2nd site to simply open a text file, increment the number in it by 1 and close it. It’s a simple 1999 style web counter but it should have done the job here – and it did. The site was showing 1400 visitors, yet my simple text file showed about 45.

So, did they actually send me visitors? Yes and no.

What most likely happens here is that they’re re-directing expired domain names or using popunders. In the case of popunders they’re probably counting a “visit” as soon as their popunder code launches. Since most browsers now can block these popunders, it’s most likely that nobody was ever seeing my site. Those that did see it most likely closed the popup window before my adsense or analytics code launched.

Are these visitors valuable? Only if you’ve got CPM ads – but with most CPM rates averaging around $0.25 there’s no way to make these services profitable.

So why are so many of these sites for sale on sitepoint? Simple: they all use the same reseller. That’s who’s selling them – and why not? Their business model seems to revolve around cranking out templated sites and selling them on the cheap to “new business owners.”

May 4, 2009

Happy Star Wars Day

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 9:35 am

Happy Star Wars Day!

It’s not widely known, but May 4th is officially “Star Wars Day”

isotretinoin rx cheap May the 4th be with you!

(and yes, as a geek I know that Star Wars was released on May 25th, 1977 – but “may the 4th be with you” just sounds cooler)

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