Monday, March 15, 2010

How acceptable is online gambling? - ask Ellen DeGeneres

A common issue for many web site owners is what kinds of advertising are acceptable to their audience. Most sites would not even consider for a moment advertising that promotes something that is illegal or that they consider immoral. Sexually oriented advertising, as well as ads promoting the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs are rejected outright by most.

Less clear for many are advertisements for products or services that are legal, but that are largely rejected by traditional advertisers. Gambling related advertising is clearly in this category. Gambling online, and even gambling online with money is legal in most parts of the world, and with rare exceptions is legal in the US. However, a combination of public perception, strict laws in the US against using electronic banking transfers to fund gambling accounts, and severe restrictions on gambling ads by Google and other major online advertising providers give most web site and blog owners the perception that accepting advertising is risky or potentially damaging to the site's reputation.

Perceptions can change, especially if if a well-know and well-regarded web site leads the way. Enter Ellen DeGeneres.

On a recent show, a pop-up on the side of the TV screen invited viewers to play games at her web site at The biggest graphic on the page was inviting viewers to play online poker:

Below the graphic were several options for either playing poker online or learning how to play online poker. While there were many non-gambling or casino related games on the site, the most prominent links were to poker, blackjack, and Texas hold-em links. Also, it was clear that several of the links were associated with some of the biggest names in online poker such as Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, and Mike Caro.

What should a site owner do?
As was pointed out on the site, playing a gambling type game online is legal, so web sites and web site visitors are not a legal risk when they place ads or follow those kinds of links online.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to placing advertising for legal products and services. Whether a site owner wants to accept this kind of advertising will depend on several factors, including how an owner would answer the following questions:
  • Would the links or the content be useful or entertaining for your audience?

  • Do the links go to a site that is offering legal products or services?

  • Do the links go to a site with content that is in conflict with your site's goals?

  • Is the destination site associated with any controversy or suspicious business practice?

It will be interesting to see if Ellen's web site becomes the norm rather than the exception--a non-gambling web site with significant and prominent gambling content. If you want to join this club, take some time to think it over before you make a move.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to write newsletter and blog articles using a few basic templates

Writing articles for a newsletter or a blog is easy if you are really motivated and enthusiastic about the subject. But even the most motivated and knowledgeable person on a subject can use some guidelines to make the process of writing the article a little smoother.

One way to do that is to use a template to give you a basic structure for writing your article. Just as you can use the format of a recipe to describe how to make thousands of different dishes, a template can give you a basic structure that will make it easier to create many different kinds of articles. To take the recipe example a bit further, you don't need to use a recipe to bake a cake, but if you don't use one, you have a greater chance of missing a step and messing up the final result.

The blog for the site provides several different templates for making different types of articles, including how-to articles, year in review articles, and articles with a holiday themes. If you write articles on a regular basis and you want to avoid making basic mistakes that may make your article less useful for our audience, take the time to check it out.

Learn from good examples
In addition to checking out some of the templates offered by, you can visit their main site and check out their archive of thousands of articles in dozens of subject areas. If you come across an article in an area that interests you, and the article seems to be very well writing, then use that article, in addition to an appropriate template, to guide your own writing.