Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Move Over, Julia Roberts!

It seems that I am now a celebrity. I have arrived and Donsol has rolled out its red carpet. Everywhere I go I am greeted by name, by people I've never seen before. Word has spread quickly that I am the new American in town, the new teacher sa Donsol High School. And they call me "Julia Roberts." I have been compared to Dianna Torres, a former Filipina Miss Universe and actress in the Philippines. Everyone tells me how "maganda" (beautiful) I am. A girl could get used to this! They like my white skin and tell me to use an umbrella in the sun so I don't get too dark. The children greet me on the street, one after another, and in groups, with 'Good Morning, Ma'am.'

I have moved from my anonymous life in New York to a place where everybody will know my name. Such has been life for me in my first week in Donsol, world famous for our whale sharks.

I have started school and I've have realized that there is much to do. The school grounds and buildings are crumbling but there may be nothing I can do about this. On the inside, there are few books and supplies. The teachers must pay for supplies out of their own pockets. There are few teacher guides and materials so they must make it up as they go along. There are no visual aids, no CD-ROMs, no maps, no nothing. This is basic education with people power. What a challenge to step into. Still, the children are very bright and many in the third and fourth year classes speak English well. English is their third language, after Bicol and Tagalog. They are eager to learn and to speak to me and to learn about life in America. Most of them dream of getting a visa to move to the states someday and many of them already have relatives living in our country.

While I am supposed to spend the first three months observing and assessing the situation, I have found that sitting around just won't do. There are not even enough teachers to teach the students so I have already stepped in to teach some English classes. It forces you to be creative right away and I recently divised a couple of games to get the students speaking and using vocabulary words. Most of the kids have learned by repeating and reciting so one of my goals is to move them to a more interactive type of learning - group tasks, speaking activities, etc. I will be helping the teachers develop these kinds of teaching methods by doing workshops for them and demonstrating techniques in the classroom. You might ask me what makes me qualified to do this? I ask myself that every day. But the needs do become apparent when you sit in a Filipino classroom. The students are obedient and will tell you they understand even when they do not. Many of their answers are yes and no and many students lack the ability to think critically -- a skill that is so stressed back home.

It's difficult to know where to begin. There are endless possibilities and sometimes I get overwhelmed by what I could do and knowing that I have my limitations. I also want to improve the physical materials at school. These kids need books and more books. Most of them never read a book outside of a textbook -- and any of the textbooks they might have are mostly outdated. During a quick run through the textbooks and reference books in the school's tiny library, I could not find a book printed after 1978! Also, there are 10 computers at school for 2,000 students -- donated just last year. They are kept in a windowless, non-airconditioned room and are sure not to last long.

So, you can see I have much to do. Now I've got to get to work. I have to run to catch the last bus back to town -- my Internet access is an hour's ride away. Ingat kayo para sa lahat!


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Tip Of The Day
Click Fraud and How to Deter It

Pay per click (PPC) advertising continues to gain popularity in the online marketing world as an effective and inexpensive way to drive targeted visitors to web sites. Research firm eMarketer reported that between 2002 and 2003 the paid search listing market grew 175 percent.

Major trusted search properties such as Google, Overture, FindWhat, Search123 and Kanoodle, all offer PPC campaigns in which you pay only when someone clicks through your banner ad or link. But PPC also has an enemy--click fraud--and understanding what it is and what to do about it should also be a key part of your PPC campaign.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is when someone or something generates illegitimate hits on your banner or text advertisement causing you to pay for worthless clicks. AS PPC campaigns have grown in popularity and keyword prices and bidding have become more competetive, click fraud is on the rise.

Online marketers are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of click fraud. According to CNET News, some marketing executives estimate that "up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today's search industry."

This estimate is certainly unsettling for advertisers who, recently, have been paying hefty amounts bidding on desirable search terms. Financial analysts report that in the year 2004 advertisers are paying an average of 45 cents per click. Compare this to 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in 2002 the bidding wars continue to rise.

Who's Doing it and Why?
Click fraud perpetrators are most often motivated by trying to increase revenues from affiliate networks or attempting to damage competitors' revenues by forcing them to pay for worthless clicks. The Google Adsense program, in which affiliates receive payment for clicks whether they are real or not, has caused great concern for Google and has intensified its focus on click fraud.

Those engaged in click fraud use a variety of techniques to generate false clicks. Low cost international workers from all over the world are hired to locate and click on ads. The Times of India provided investigative reporting on payment for manual click fraud happening in India. Unethical companies may pay their own employees to click on competitor ads. Last but not least, click fraud can be generated by online robots programmed to click on advertiser or affiliate ads. Some companies go to great lengths creating intricate software that allows for this to happen.

How Can You Deter It?
Many advertisers know about the possibility of click fraud but generally haven't done much in the past to prevent it. Some feel that if they complain to any of the search conglomerates, it could ruin their free listings. Others feel like the problem is beyond them.

"It is a bigger problem, but folks just don't want to take the time to track it down because it's a complex problem," stated John Squire, of web analytics firm Coremetrics, to CNET. "Given that some of the largest marketers manage up to 1 million keywords in a campaign the data can be difficult to crunch."

Companies who do understand and report click fraud to search engine properties have had success receiving refunds for fraudulent clicks. For those advertisers who want to address the possibility of click fraud in PPC campaigns, good option do exists. At the most basic level, advertisers can use general auditing many have been known to compile lists of sites that generate high numbers of clicks but not sales. This will indeed put up a red flag.

On the other hand, because click fraud is advancing at such frequency, click fraud detection companies and software have been popping up all over the country. Let's take a look at some of the options:

- WhosClickingWho.com - This fraud detector tracks all PPC search engines, detects multiple IP's, and even pops up a "ClickMinder" after a potential abuser clicks repeatedly over five times.
- ClickDetective - ClickDetective allows you to track return visitors to your site and alerts you if there is evidence that your site may be under attack. Its reports show you every click in real time rather than a summary hours later.
- BogusClick - BogusClick can help advertisers determine competitor IP addresses, originating PPC search engines and/or partner sites involved, as well as keywords used.
- Clicklab - Clicklab employs a score-based click fraud detection system that applies a series of tests to each visitor session and assigns scores. Calculations are made to indicate bad/good sessions to show an advertiser the quality of traffic.

Click fraud is a big problem in search engine marketing that's only going to get bigger in the future. It is wise for any online advertiser to implement some auditing system. Why continue to waste precious campaign money?!

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