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35 pubs and bars on Gemmayze Street in Beirut participated in the non-smoking night* that took place on Wednesday 28 October. Nevertheless, many of these establishments did not uphold to their promise to the organizing NGO, Rotaract, and were blazing with glittering buds and retortful puffs. I know I am late on the posting train** about that, but I have been analyzing it backwards and forward thinking: “What would’ve been done to make it a success and give non-smokers a night to ENJOY?”

One one of the pubs we passed had a 'bright' marketing ploy - an anti-campaign - "Smoking Friendly environment".

One one of the pubs we passed had a 'bright' marketing ploy - an anti-campaign - "Smoking Friendly environment".

The answer is very simple: Education, Promotion, Reward and Punishment!

Admittedly, all nights are busy in Gemmayze, and from my new born addiction to Dinner Dash I can now see how hard it is to cater to all the client’s needs. Nevertheless, on this special night an extra effort by the Ushers, Managers and Waiters in welcoming the guests and explaining the event their establishment is participating in would’ve gone a long way. Just Putting the leaflets on each table, would ‘ve served the purpose. For instance, the vile smokers in our restaurant did not know / have not been told that the night was a non-smoking night (or so they told us).  This is something Rotaract needs to educate all the pubs about for next year to avoid any mishaps.

A further step to be taken, is finding out who the smokers are and thanking them in advance for making this effort and providing a happy environment for all. Maybe some brochure or leaflet which included a thank you, the accomplishment they are making, ways to quit… would’ve helped if physical time was unavailable.

Now for reward. In my world a LOT is focused on giveaways, and promotional materials. What could help smoker’s through the night? Some nicotine patches and nicotine gum distributed at entry would have further enhanced the night’s theme and would’ve made any smoker beyond shameful to light up inside. and if smokers were to go outside for a smoke, why not thank them by a mini-desert or a free drink? Smokers could also be given extra privileges like a 10% discount for their next visit, or even faster service.

And now for PUNISHMENT, shaming is a good punishment. And here I have a great story to tell you!

This weekend we came back home to some poop on near our flat’s entrance (which is also shared by our neighbors). What simply stepped over it and ignored it (I’m not cleaning that!). But what our two neighbors did was INGENIOUS, and I have to  give them so much credit for thinking of this! They wrote on an A4 the following: ” Please clean after your DOG, our entrance is not a TOILET!“***  and pinned it to the door. And when we came back in the afternoon, the poop was gone and the A4 was snatched from the door. Justice has prevailed!

The pubs and bars that participated in the event have benefited immensely from the free publicity and the extra amount of visitors who wanted to relax in a smoke free environment. But what about negative publicity? What about Rotaract binding them to some penal clause in case of breach and monitoring them more effectively? And a last word on shaming, what if those vile smokers from our story were faced off by the ‘metre’ after they lit up, who would have with a smile reminded them of the policy and offered them a desert / drink on the house  (had they been informed about the policy in the first place)? You see the reward – punishment (in our case shaming) – reward is a very effective and simple manipulation tool that or parents have used on us, and at heart we’re all children!

Dear Rotaract! Us non-smokers really need this night to be a full success next year!

__________________________________________________________________________________

* You can check out The Star Scene photos of the Night

** Check out these great posts by Lilliane & Maya.

*** turns out one of our new neighbors has a dog :S

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I want to say a big thank you to Patrick for being so excited about this guest post and sharing his expertise, tips and tricks related to advertising on blogs. But there is much more ground to cover, and Patrick has generously answer all questions we may have in second Q&A post. I will leave you with the post for now, but do not forget to check out Patrick’s blog – Projekt Cyan, his Portfolio as well as his many amazing projects. You can also check out Patrick’s amazing work space over at the #MYDESK post and do not forget to follow him on Twitter.

Advertising on your blog. A sin or a win?

Ethical? Un-ethical?

Advertising on blogs has been increasing dramatically over the past two years.  Individual entrepreneurs and companies are encouraged more and more to advertise their products and services on blogs and social networking sites that are currently flooding the internet.

There have been many “to advertise or not to advertise” arguments emerging within the blog world recently.  Some who are against the trend believe that advertising spots on your personal blog somehow force your loyal readers to be distracted or redirected by views or products that are not always useful or ethical.  Others think advertising is fine because it brings in revenue and puts your blog high up on the “super blog” ladder.

It works for me

I am a blogger who rents advertising spots on my design blog.  When I first started blogging three years ago the idea of advertising on my blog was out of question.  In addition to the reasons against blog ads I mentioned above, I also thought it would be unfair to my readers that I would be making money off their loyalty.

But eventually I began to look at it from a different perspective.  Some people read my blog on occasion, others visit it everyday, while some actually view it multiple times during the day; all of these visitors use the flow of information posted on it for various purposes.  Some read my posts to keep abreast of what’s going on in the design world, others are looking for a particular piece of information that I have posted about, and still others simply visit my blog for entertainment purposes.  In other words, my blog is essentially a medium that is constantly streaming a range of information that is being shared, commented on, and used by readers for both knowledge and entertainment.

So I concluded that if my readers are actually somehow benefiting from my blog, they probably would not mind if I benefited from it as well.

How does the money help?

Revenue from advertising can help pay the web hosting fees and can be used to buy resources to maintain and develop the blog, both of which help keep my blog running and active at all times for my readers to enjoy.  So in the end, it’s a win-win situation for both your readers and yourself.

some ad banners projektcyan.com - Patrick Semaan's blog

Which way to go to sell advertising space?

There are multiple ways to advertise on your blog.  Three of these are most popular, and based on my own experience I will share with you what I think are the good and the bad about each:

1-Google AdSense – The famous Google tool for advertising on the internet.

You start by opening an account with AdSense (you can access it using your existing Gmail account).  You can then add and configure your blog or website in your dashboard, select various shapes and sizes of advertising banners, and then get the codes to paste on your blog.  AdSense will then monitor and scan your blog contents to publish related ads in the areas you have specified for       advertising and depending on the “impressions” on your blog.  AdSense will publish static text ads or actual pre-designed adverts from various parties, and you get paid for the amount of clicks generated from these ads.

The good:

  • It’s easy to maintain and run.  All you have to do is paste the generated codes on your blog and it does all the work for you by posting ads and redirecting your readers accordingly.
  • Money collecting is hassle free: you get your money every month or however often you choose in your settings.

The bad:

  • Too many people are using it, meaning that the ads are spread out over a wider audience, which in the long run means that you won’t get paid that much.  Your website would have to have a really big “impression” number to start seeing enough money to make it worth it.
  • Text ads do not really look good and are nowadays ignored by internet users/surfers.

2-Third Party Market Place (I call them third party engines hereafter).

They are several market place websites or bulk-advertising buyers who can offer you similar advertising schemes for your blog.  They work very similarly to Google in the sense that they gives you the codes to generate ads on your blog, and based on the criteria you fill in your settings it will start feeding ads to your blog.  They also pay you money depending on how much impressions/clicks each of your ads generates. These third party engines work for both publishers and advertisers.  The third party market place websites I sometimes use are: BuySellAds.com and AdBrite.com

The good:

  • It’s easy to maintain and run.  All you have to do is paste the generated codes on your blog and it does all the work for you by posting ads and redirecting your readers accordingly.
  • Money collecting is hassle free: you get your money every month or however often you choose in your settings.
  • A little easier to use and less complicated than Google Adsense.

The bad:

  • Too many people are using it, meaning that the ads are spread out over a wider audience, which in the long run means that you won’t get paid that much.  Your website would have to have a really big “impression” number to start seeing enough money to make it worth it.
  • Text ads do not really look good and are nowadays ignored by internet users/surfers.

3-Do it yourself

If you can manage to do it all yourself, this is the best method of all and is what I personally prefer to do.  You get to decide where the advertising spots are on your blog layout, rate these different spots and catch potential advertisers yourself, and provide your clients with your specific blog statistics.  Sometimes if your blog is very popular you won’t need to publicize it: companies will actually come to you asking to advertise on your blog.

The good:

  • Gives you better control over what is being advertised and by whom.
  • You set your own fair rates based on your blog statistics.
  • You get paid a fixed rate based on your blog stats rather than on the number of clicks on the ad.
  • You can create your own advertising period schemes (so, per month, per quarter, annual, or seasonal).
  • Based on all of these advantages, you end up making more revenue than with the previous two options listed above.

The bad:

  • You have to manage the advertising slots and schedules yourself, which can be a bit tedious.
  • You have to manage payment collections yourself.
  • You won’t have any guarantees that clients will pay you on time unless you bind your clients with a contract.

Oh and by the way, you can also place advertising slots in your feeds!  This is very useful since a lot of people nowadays read blogs through their feeds.

Some tips for doing it yourself:

At the beginning you might need to give out some slots for free.  Identify potential advertisers who you think might be interested in advertising on your blog and approach them.  For example, if your blog is about food you should pitch to restaurants, fast-food chains, or even household electronic showrooms that sell kitchen gadgets.  Present your blog to them, tell them what it’s all about, show them your stats, and then offer them a free trial package such as a full month of free advertising for one of their products or a new menu item.  After a month or so, if your blog is getting the right audience they will recognize that this advertisement they placed on your blog helped increase their sales and they will want to continue advertising with you.

Interact with your client regularly; suggest some advertising ideas or campaigns from time to time (particularly at the start of certain holidays or seasons like Ramdan, Eid, or Christmas).

Remember that you are doing it all yourself, which means you have to know how much each available slot is being rented for, and for how long.  You also have to remind your client in advance that their advertising period will be ending soon and suggest renewing their contract.

Once you start advertising on your blog you have to keep your blog active with fresh contents all the time, as you need to keep those readership stats high.  The higher the stats, the more you can sell, and for higher prices.

Is it all worth it?

If it works out well then it is absolutely worth it.  You can make good money out of advertising – not only enough to pay your hosting, maintenance, and resources fees, but also to buy those geeky gadgets you always wanted!

Once again big THANKS to Patrick! And readers bring on the question while you have the chance !

Waseet BirdBear

First I saw the banners on the streets, then the Ad in Al Balad, and now today’s Waseet came in a plastic (!) bag with a bird and a bear…

So it is confirmed then, Waseet, the Arab Classifieds’s newspaper & webportal, is the latest to jump on the sustainability bandwagon. Waseet is  pledging to plant a tree with the publishing of each issue, which is about two trees a week. Waseet’s ‘partner in crime’ is Akhdar Deyim who has had a lot of hype this year, as I have found out, receiving donations from BBAC, MTC & Casino du Liban, to name a few.

The copywriting of the ads is very successful and roughly translates to: “Our nature loves the mediator (which in arabic is ‘Waseet’), with every issue out a tree goes up.”

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