Tag Archives: internet

google

Google Fiber could be coming to Valley

The cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe joined Google Wednesday in announcing the first potential expansion of Google Fiber to the Valley.

Google Fiber is an Internet and TV service that provides Internet connectivity that is up to 100 times faster than the basic broadband, along with hundreds of high-definition TV channels.

“Scottsdale and Google Fiber are a perfect match,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane. “We are a connected city, filled with innovative and creative people and businesses – which is why Google named Scottsdale the 2013 E-City of Arizona. I look forward to working with Google Fiber to explore bringing Scottsdale residents ultra-high speed Internet access to make us more future-ready than ever.”

What’s next?

Starting this week, Google will work closely with city leaders on a joint planning process to explore what it would take to build a brand new fiber-optic network capable of delivering these gigabit speeds throughout Scottsdale.

Google will begin compiling a detailed study of local factors that might affect construction plans. Simultaneously, Scottsdale will begin meetings with Google to discuss what it would take to plan and prepare the city for a fiber project of this scale.

Read more about the process on the Google Fiber blog here.

Google will announce by year’s end which cities will get Google Fiber. The service is currently available in Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri and Provo Utah, and will be available in Austin, Texas later this year.

online

Closing the digital divide for Arizona students

Arizona students are back in class and in addition to notebooks and lunch boxes, some parents are packing smartphones or tablets in their kid’s backpacks. Some school districts are even requesting that kids bring their own technology to school to enhance their learning.

A recent Pew Internet & American Life study found that more than 80 percent of teachers agree that today’s digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and school districts. When 76 percent of teachers assign online homework, teachers increasingly find themselves in the difficult position of either leaving behind students without Internet at home or holding back the other “connected students.”

What is truly troubling is that many kids throughout Arizona, even those with Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets, have no access to Internet in their homes. While the majority of Arizona homes have access to a broadband connection in their neighborhood, due to cost, some economically challenged families choose not to connect in their homes. Internet access and digital literacy are essential for today’s students to succeed and ensure that they have the tools to compete in our 21st century workforce.

Connect2Compete (C2C) was created by community leaders, the private sector and foundations to bridge the digital divide to ensure affordable access to the Internet for low-income families. As the largest Internet provider in Arizona, and a company that has a strong history of supporting broadband adoption through programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs technology centers, it was a natural for Cox Communications to be part of this effort to ensure that affordable Internet access is available to those students most at risk of falling through the digital divide.

While the main goal of C2C is to improve student engagement and increase graduation rates, it also benefits other members of the household. Just consider this – in the U.S. today, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post their job openings online only and require online applications – the same is true at Cox Communications.

So how does it work? Families who have at least one child enrolled in the national free school lunch program are eligible for low-cost access to high-speed Internet through Connect2Compete. A consortium of hardware and software partners provide low-cost computers and digital literacy training, and Cox Communications provides a two-year commitment of Internet service for $9.95 a month, free installation and a free modem rental.

Cox Communications believes that all kids in Arizona deserve to have the same tools for learning and Connect2Compete is one important way we can do our part. For more information, visit connect2compete.org/cox/.

 

Susan Anable is the vice president of public affairs for Cox Communications Arizona and is the mother of two school-aged children.

online

Closing the digital divide for Arizona students

Arizona students are back in class and in addition to notebooks and lunch boxes, some parents are packing smartphones or tablets in their kid’s backpacks. Some school districts are even requesting that kids bring their own technology to school to enhance their learning.

A recent Pew Internet & American Life study found that more than 80 percent of teachers agree that today’s digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and school districts. When 76 percent of teachers assign online homework, teachers increasingly find themselves in the difficult position of either leaving behind students without Internet at home or holding back the other “connected students.”

What is truly troubling is that many kids throughout Arizona, even those with Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets, have no access to Internet in their homes. While the majority of Arizona homes have access to a broadband connection in their neighborhood, due to cost, some economically challenged families choose not to connect in their homes. Internet access and digital literacy are essential for today’s students to succeed and ensure that they have the tools to compete in our 21st century workforce.

Connect2Compete (C2C) was created by community leaders, the private sector and foundations to bridge the digital divide to ensure affordable access to the Internet for low-income families. As the largest Internet provider in Arizona, and a company that has a strong history of supporting broadband adoption through programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs technology centers, it was a natural for Cox Communications to be part of this effort to ensure that affordable Internet access is available to those students most at risk of falling through the digital divide.

While the main goal of C2C is to improve student engagement and increase graduation rates, it also benefits other members of the household. Just consider this – in the U.S. today, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post their job openings online only and require online applications – the same is true at Cox Communications.

So how does it work? Families who have at least one child enrolled in the national free school lunch program are eligible for low-cost access to high-speed Internet through Connect2Compete. A consortium of hardware and software partners provide low-cost computers and digital literacy training, and Cox Communications provides a two-year commitment of Internet service for $9.95 a month, free installation and a free modem rental.

Cox Communications believes that all kids in Arizona deserve to have the same tools for learning and Connect2Compete is one important way we can do our part. For more information, visit connect2compete.org/cox/.

 

Susan Anable is the vice president of public affairs for Cox Communications Arizona and is the mother of two school-aged children.

There's more to building an Internet presence than just posting a Web site, 2008

Cox Business unveils faster Internet speeds

Cox Business announced that 150Mbps/20Mbps download/upload speeds are available for small- and medium-sized businesses requiring a super-fast connection to the Internet to serve their customers. In Arizona, this level of connectivity is only available from Cox Business.

“Our business clients want faster, secure Internet access that improves office efficiency and reduces administrative costs. We’re providing more choices to meet their needs,” says Hyman Sukiennik, vice president, Cox Business.

Technology-driven businesses utilize data-intensive applications requiring faster data speeds so they can transfer massive files between locations, share work applications and be able to access critical data on remote servers. Retail stores require significant credit card processing ability and high storage capacity. Health care providers, advertising agencies, banks and law offices move huge amounts of data between employees and among clients.

“Cox Business knows that business isn’t static. Our customers’ need for speed expands and contracts and we’re there, constantly evaluating to make sure we are providing the most efficient Internet experience possible for most budgets,” says Sukiennik.

Cox Business offers an array of speed levels for Arizona businesses depending on their needs. Factors that determine which Internet speed for data transfer is right for a particular business depends on the type of business using the Internet, the number of employees online, their job tasks related to the Internet and how customers interact with Web-based services provided by the business. When choosing Internet speeds, businesses need to think about what information they are sharing and how fast they need to send/receive it. Other determining factors are the number of business locations and what percentage of the business operations requires use of the Internet.

Nursing Shortage Still Plagues Arizona’s Health Care Industry

Web can be a blessing and a curse for health advice

Admit it. You’ve had an ache or pain or a sniffle or stiffness and Googled your symptoms to figure out what was wrong. We’ve all done it.

While WebMD may be the quickest way to find and answer, it may not be the healthiest.
“The danger is that many different diseases have similar symptoms and it is difficult for a person without medical training to distinguish between possible causes,” says Dr. Jim Dearing, chief medical officer for John C. Lincoln’s Physician Network. “This becomes more dangerous if the patient decides to self-medicate instead of consulting a physician, because they could easily be treating the wrong thing – and their treatment may make the real cause of their symptoms worse.”

According to a 2011 Pew study, 80 percent of Internet users look for health information online, making medical inquiries the third most popular use of the Web, trailing only email and search engine use. And a recent survey of 1,000 people found that almost one-quarter of 1,000 people surveyed have misdiagnosed and treated themselves wrongly thanks to the information they found online.

“With the abundance of information available on the Internet, sorting fact from fiction can be difficult,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Dirlam, medical director of Samaritan Academic Faculty Practices at Banner Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. “Information on the web may be inaccurate, incomplete, outdated or biased by commercial interests. Misinformation or applying accurate information inappropriately may result in needless worry or false reassurance, causing delay of treatment.”

Some of that needless worry has created a condition called “cyberchondria,” which is fear and preoccupation with medical concerns caused by health research online.

Virginia Kwan, a psychologist at Arizona State University, examined how symptoms presented online can influence people’s reactions to possible medical conditions
“The way gamblers say they have a ‘hot hand,’ cyberchondriacs believe they have ‘hot symptoms,’” Kwan says. “If they hit the first two in a list, they believe they must have the third one as well.”

While issues of misdiagnosis and cyberchondria can result from overzealous online medical research, doctors agree that there is a constructive place for Internet research in healthcare.

“The Internet provides a wealth of information for parents interested in their child’s medical care,” says Dr. Robb Muhm Jr. of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “The amount of information can be overwhelming at times. The biggest danger for parents is choosing the incorrect information from among all the available information on the Internet.  This is an area where the pediatrician can be very helpful. We can help the parents make the right decision for their child based on experience, research, and the most current information.”
Dr. Sanford Silverman of Scottsdale’s Center for Attention Deficit and Learning Disorders and Center for Peak Performance points out that the Internet can be a useful tool to create a common ground to start a diagnostic and treatment discussion with a medical professional.

“The more informed the patient is, the easier it is to communicate with them,” he says. “In this respect, prospective patients can learn from pertinent Internet sites and then share their thoughts and findings with the doctor. I have worked with many patients who were diagnosed with anxiety and or depression. By using the Internet to research this diagnosis, they found links to Attention Deficit Disorder, which they then believed was a more accurate diagnosis.  They scheduled an appointment to investigate if they have this disorder.  In the majority of my cases, they were accurate and ADD was a contributing or major part of their difficulties.  The Internet helped steer them to appropriate authorities.”

ADVICE FROM EXPERTS

Valley doctors offer insight for those people who have a medical issue or question and are considering turning to the Internet for answers:

Dr. Mary Ellen Dirlam, Banner Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center: Patients searching the internet need to verify the identity and credentials of the online source. Reputable sources include their healthcare provider as well as the Medical Library Association internet site. This website offers an excellent article, “A user’s guide to finding and evaluating health information on the web” as well as a list of good sources for information.

Dr. Robb Muhm Jr., Phoenix Children’s Hospital: We should all be critical media consumers. We always need to be mindful of where the information is coming from.  The American Academy of Pediatrics website (aap.org) is a good starting point. The AAP has another parent-specific website dedicated to providing accurate, current information on a wide variety of topics: healthychildren.org.  When I have a question, I start with these two websites.

Dr. Penny Krich, EVDI Medical Imaging: A patient should be wary of anecdotal medical information often found on the Internet. Each patient’s medical history is different. It should be taken into account that a similar symptom for one person may have very different implications for someone else with a different underlying medical problem.

Jelden Arcilla, chief nursing officer, St. Luke’s Medical Center:  The best sites to visit and reference for individual and basic education on health and medical conditions are non-profit, government and academic web sites.  These are sites are generally unbiased with no individual disclosure or conflicts and have the most updated, evidence-based research to support its information and recommendations.  They also are reputable web sites to provide you referrals to nearest health care provider who can further address your concerns.

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Go Daddy hires tech veteran as CEO

Go Daddy, the world’s largest registrar of Internet domain names, on Tuesday said Microsoft and Yahoo veteran Blake Irving will become its CEO on Jan. 7.

He replaces Scott Wagner, an appointee from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts who has been serving as interim CEO since July. KKR, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures bought Scottsdale-based Go Daddy in 2011, at which time founder Bob Parsons stepped down as CEO.

Irving worked at Microsoft Corp. from 1992 to 2007, ending up as the vice president in charge of the Windows Live online services. He joined Yahoo Inc. in 2010 as chief product officer.

social.media

Home builder uses social media to attract buyers

Lennar Arizona has just surpassed 250,000 “views” on YouTube, has nearly 5500 Facebook “likes”, and 4,000 Twitter followers.  In fact, social media has become such a critical component of the Valley home builder that it has created a new “I Team”, standing for Information, Integrity and Internet. The five member I-Team is a strategic addition to the marketing department and will dedicate themselves to the on-line dialogue with customers.

In any given day, you can watch 30videos of their YouTube that take the viewer through a visual tour of any number of Lennar model homes available in Arizona, provide insights into the company’s innovations such as the new NextGen Home Within a Home® series, or point you in the direction to clear up a troubled credit score.

Lennar has a number of communities in the greater Phoenix area including Montecito in El Mirage, San Tan Heights and Skyline Ranch in San Tan Valley, Lone Mountain in Cave Creek, Evans Ranch and Layton Lakes in Gilbert and Stetson Valley in Phoenix.

In the era of 24-7, second by second streaming information, the communication begins long before that prospective buyer walks into the sales office. For the uninitiated, social media is a group of Internet, web based and mobile applications that have redefined the way many people communicate.  The user-generated content has put the general public in the forefront of defining the conversation, compared to the traditional methods such as newspapers, magazines, broadcast and websites that were controlled by professional journalists and company marketers.

For buyers Linn and Kelly Shaw who purchased a Lennar home at the Layton Lakes community in Gilbert, the social media presence made their search process easy.  “The ability to look at financing options and view new model homes prompted me to look into Lennar as a builder.  I really enjoyed the YouTube videos of the models.  With my wife’s and my busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time to tour model homes or communities, so their social media content streamlined the process for us.  Access to the homes through the videos and online detail description of the homes was a huge benefit to us,” said Linn Shaw.

Mike Lyon of the real estate sales training company Do You Convert says that content is the key in the success of social media.  “If the information a company presents is entertaining or educational, it will spread.”  And that’s the key.  “Social spaces are not about selling; it’s about educating and spreading information naturally, and Lennar was one of the first home builders to really commit to creating and spreading content,” he noted.

A number of the big home builders have embraced social media, but Lennar has taken the communication to a higher level. The company has tremendous visibility online whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, FourSquare, or LinkedIn, Lennar is all over it. The company also has four very active blogs.

“For several years now, Lennar has aggressively pursued the social media path.  “There is no question that our social media initiatives have created relationships that have led directly to home purchases,” said Mike Dowell, senior vice president of marketing for Lennar’s Arizona operations.

Buyers who have utilized the social media connections often pass along those tools to friends. “I watch real estate closely and haven’t seen another builder do what Lennar does on-line.  It was so easy to share the Lennar YouTube videos with our friends who were also looking for a home,” homebuyer Lin Shaw added.

The cultural shift is well underway. For many people of all ages, social media is becoming a preferred communication method. Social media is an effective way to communicate facts. “The customers seem to appreciate the ability to research the home opportunities on their own, and to review comments from current Lennar home owners via the company’s Facebook page, blog and other social media sites,” noted Dowell.

A home builder with nationwide presence, at the national level Lennar has more than 800,000 YouTube views, over 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Additionally, each of Lennar’s Divisions across the nation has a strong and growing social media presence in their respective markets.

Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information, visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; Facebook.com/LennarTucson; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/Lennar Tucson; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix, Twitter.com/LennarTucson.

Does Your Online Presence Pass the Truth Test?

What’s the fastest-growing marketing trend on the Internet?

I’m sad to say it’s the “fakeosphere.” Yes, fake blogs (called “flogs”), fake web news sites and fake testimonials. They look like the real thing, right down to comments posted by “bloggers” and their supposed readers. Those comments appear to be written by people discussing the pros and cons of a particular product or service, and they even include some naysayers.

“But in the end, the bloggers and their readers always win over the skeptics and persuade them to buy the product from a convenient nearby link,” writes Bob Sullivan in his blog on msnbc.com.

He cites Internet marketing analyst Jay Weintraub, who believes the fakeosphere has become a $500 million-a-year industry.

These fake sites and phony conversations are often more than simply misleading – OK, fraudulent – marketing. For consumers, they can be downright dangerous.

“The end game for most of these sites – no matter what they sell – is to persuade a consumer to sign up for a ‘free’ trial of a product, then make it incredibly difficult to cancel before the trial period ends,” Sullivan writes. “A similar technique … is to offer a free product and charge a web user a token shipping and handling fee, just to get the consumers’ bank account information. Larger charges soon follow.”

Consumers are – and should be – increasingly wary. They’re scrutinizing websites more closely, especially if they’re considering making a purchase there. They’re avoiding social media interactions with anything that smells less than genuine, and they’re more careful about who they share information with online.

What would they say about your online presence? Do you look like the real deal, or a potential cyber threat?

Here are some ways to ensure you pass the reality test — and some missteps that will ensure you don’t.

On social media:

• Real people have real friends and family among their connections. They can’t resist sharing photos of their vacation, the newest baby in the family and their genius dog (not necessarily in that order). They have interests that may have nothing to do with what they’re trying to market, and they comment about them (“I shot a hole in one today!”) or share a photo (“Here I am buying everyone drinks after my hole in one today. That was the most expensive golf shot ever!”) They also respond to all comments, even if it’s just to say, “Thank you.”

• Fake people generate mostly sales copy – “Buy my product! It’s great!” They don’t engage in conversation, they don’t appear to have a personality – or friends or loved ones or hobbies, for that matter.

On your website:

• Real people have text that informs and entertains users while offering them helpful information. The copy is professionally written – no typos or other mistakes – and provides answers to anticipated questions. It’s easy to learn more about you or your business and to find your contact information. Testimonials are from real people whose existence can be verified through a simple Internet search. They write blogs that are updated regularly and/or post articles with helpful information.

• Fake people have websites with lots of pop-up advertising banners and text urging users to “Buy my product!” Testimonials are from untraceable people with vague titles or credentials. The site may be hard to navigate; contact information may be missing or difficult to find; and there’s no link to media about the person or company.

In your newsletter:

• Real people share valuable information in their newsletters (which can be as minimal as a “tip of the week” email). Their newsletter (or tip) includes no overpowering sales pitch or self-promotion – or, at least, includes that only occasionally. It conveys a personality, whether warm and friendly, authoritative, or humorous.

• Fake people blast newsletters and promotional emails that may identify a problem but offer as the only solution hiring them or buying their product. They may seem unprofessionally written (errors, etc.) and lack personality. They offer nothing of value to the reader.

All of these things will help you create an online personality that conveys your authenticity. But the No. 1 thing you can do – what I value above everything else – is to be, actually … genuine.

In my book, “Celebritize Yourself,” I write about identifying the passion that led you to start your business, create your product or write your book. Maybe you became a financial adviser because you found it gratifying to solve people’s money problems. Or you developed a product that you know will benefit others. Or you have expertise that can help people live longer, happier, or more productive lives.

Whatever it is that got you going, that’s what makes you genuine. Identify it and make it a part of your message, and no one will ever call you a fake.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.

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Dish Network to launch satellite broadband service

Satellite TV company Dish Network Corp. is launching a broadband Internet service that’s aimed at rural areas that don’t currently get high-speed Internet.

Dish Network said Thursday that the satellite broadband service, dishNet, will start at $40 per month for people who bundle it with certain Dish’s TV programming packages. The new service goes on sale Monday.

The company is targeting about 14.5 million Americans who, according to a Federal Communications Commission report, live in rural areas and don’t have access to high-speed Internet. In all, about 19 million people in the U.S. don’t have high-speed Internet service.

The dishNet service will offer download speeds of up to 10 megabytes per second. Dish said this is fast enough for typical Internet uses such as accessing social networks, music or video streaming and Internet telephone services.

The $40 per month service will offer download speeds of 5 megabytes per second. The faster service will cost $50 per month on top of a Dish TV account. Standalone Internet service without Dish TV will cost $10 more.

This service is available in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Shares of Englewood, Colo.-based Dish rose 29 cents to $30.70 in morning trading Thursday. Its shares are down 14 percent from their 52-week high of $35.64 in mid-March.

internet

Cox Delivers Better Internet To Scottsdale Teachers, Students

Cox Business and the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) have formally agreed to elevate the Internet experience for the District’s 26,000 students and 3,000 employees. Installation is nearly complete on an upgrade that will increase bandwidth and speed to 1G at each of SUSD’s 33 schools through a Cox Metro Ethernet network so that students and teachers can all use their own “smart devices” in the classroom at the same time.

With these Cox Business upgrades, SUSD can complete plans to fully activate its “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) program across all of its schools. The District has embraced the proliferation of mobile technology and wants students to appropriately use their devices at the direction of teachers for research, to engage in class discussions and to stream educational videos. Cox Business is providing a network fast enough and reliable enough to consistently manage this new level of usage.

“Every SUSD school will have wireless access so students and teachers can bring their smartphones, iPods, iPads and Android devices to school and fluidly engage with technology,” explains Tom Clark, chief technology officer for  SUSD.  He adds, “Already, SUSD is offering professional development through a mobile learning lab, eCoach, that travels throughout the District carrying its own portable technology. Now, the eCoach will have seamless wireless access at SUSD campuses to the robust Cox Business network established for the District.”

“Cox Business believes deeply in developing and providing connectivity that allows our partners, like SUSD, to heighten the learning experience,” said Hyman Sukiennik, Cox Business vice president. Cox Business connects 29 school districts in Metro Phoenix with Internet, data networks and telephone networks.

A Day In The Internet

A Day In The Internet

The numbers are in the thousands, millions, even billions range. We all realize that the internet is important. But do you know exactly what happens in only one day? This infographic from MBAOnline.com shares the staggering numbers for just how much we use the internet.

Do these numbers surprise you? Or do you think they should be even larger? Let us know in the comments section.

Created by: MBAOnline.com

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Infographic Credits, courtesy of MBAOnline.com:

Source: MBAOnline.com
Designed by: Unknown

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Cloud Space

CX Claims Its Space In The Cloud

CX Inc. has declared its emergence in Cloud Space.

The company, whose initials stand for “cloud experience,” is a consumer-focused cloud computing company backed by TomorrowVentures and Hanna Capital with offices in Phoenix/Scottsdale; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. TomorrowVentures is the venture capital enterprise of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

“The Cloud” is a term that essentially refers to the Internet as a whole. When users access data on the Internet, Cloud Service data centers, managed by a third party, store and access that data. The data is securely stored and becomes available through the Internet itself, independent of what users have stored in their personal computers’ hard drives.

With CX Inc.’s cloud storage and data file management system, users have access to a safe platform in order to backup, synchronize, share and manage documents, photos, music and videos across various devices – including desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and mobile devices.

Brad Robertson, who has had 20 years of experience with technology startups, is the CEO of CX Inc. He says he hopes to offer users the most comprehensive and intuitive cloud management platform “bar none.”

Robertson says social networks, at the center of the digital universe, have irreversibly changed communication and group social dynamics. He says he believes the current model is imperfect, though, because users and files rely on the “Masters of the Universe.”

“At CX we intend to change all that,” said Robertson. He says he believed the future of social networks will be designed so that users are the “master of their own universe” and will dictate how their files are used and shared, taking control away from a “social hub behemoth.”

AmericaNewsBanner

Where Are Americans Getting Their News?

For the past ten years television has been the most popular source of news for Americans, but according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center internet is quickly gaining ground towards becoming the most popular news source in America. In fact, among 18 to 29 year olds it already is, though for those 50 years and older the internet still ranks below both newspaper and television as their main source of news. The internet is also gaining ground among college graduates, while 75% of those who have a high school education or less turn to television. Where do you get your news?

Where do Americans get their news?

CyberShoppers

Attention Cyber Shoppers: Do Your Homework Before Entering The E-commerce Arena

Here’s advice for any business giving serious consideration to selling goods and services online: Before diving into electronic commerce, make sure to get your feet wet in such critical areas as marketing, networking, branding, fulfillment and customer service.

Novices can hone these skills by selling on eBay or placing products on Amazon Marketplace. But even well-established businesses must realize that an online presence involves venturing into such new territories as the blogosphere and social media.

None of this is any reason to shy away. The upside is too great. In March, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger said his company is on track to generate $1 billion in online revenue this year. Those expectations are too lofty for most, but consider recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau: Total e-commerce sales for 2007 reached about $136.4 billion, a 19 percent increase from the year before.

Amanda Vega is a former AOL employee who now operates Amanda Vega Consulting, an integrated marketing firm currently headquartered in Phoenix. A big part of her business is Web site development and related services. She sees e-commerce as a viable option for two kinds of entrepreneurs.

“People should consider it if they think that there’s a place in the market that isn’t being serviced by someone else or isn’t being serviced adequately,” she says. “Or (it offers) a natural extension to their brick-and-mortar store to help give them a national or international presence instead of just going the traditional route and building store No. 2 and store No. 3, which can cost a lot more than doing it online.”

The nice part about operating an effective e-commerce Web site is there are more ways to make money than just selling your own products or services. One method, according to Vega, is through affiliate deals with complementary companies.

“Even if it’s, let’s say, $300 a month that you’re making somehow behind the scenes for referring to other products or vendors, it’s still more income than the business owner had coming in through the traditional door,” she says.

Mark Sharkey, the owner of Mesa-based PrecisionPros.com Network and such related companies as DynamicPros.com, which provides Web programming services, says there are a variety of opportunities for those with content-rich sites that generate frequent repeat visits.

“If there’s a reason for people to keep coming back all the time,” Sharkey says, “then those types of sites will easily generate money from selling banner advertisements or doing a link-exchange kind of setup where they get paid based on the number of people that see an advertisement on the Web site, click through and go to another Web site.

“The great thing about an e-commerce Web site is that it can make money for you 24 hours a day,” he continues. “You don’t have to be in your office for it to make money for you. You don’t have to restrict your business to the local market. You have a worldwide market that’s available to you now.”

Deciding whether to enter the e-commerce arena won’t be your biggest decision. Deciding how to go about it the right way will be. More times than not, this means involving people like Vega or Sharkey to help with such things as research, development, design and marketing.

There are many crucial elements that contribute to a successful site, and not just from a visual standpoint.

Create a user-friendly site that enhances the customer’s shopping experience. Provide good information and make it easy to navigate. Make sure the customer feels safe when placing an order and providing personal information.

“The Internet is an open forum and if we don’t encrypt that data, it’s easy to see and steal that information,” Sharkey says. “You want to make sure the Web site itself is set up or the Web server is set up to handle secure transactions.”

There’s also the issue of real-time credit card processing. If you go this route, make sure you have a reputable company processing transactions.

You need to be on a server with a fast response time or risk losing impatient visitors. And don’t forget product availability and production times. This is not the old mail-order business. No one’s willing to wait six to eight weeks. Customers expect prompt delivery. If you promise to ship within 24 hours, Vega says, customers start counting from the time of purchase, not from the time you arrive at your office the next day.

“Those are the questions that I think people don’t think about,” she says. It may be less expensive to operate an online business than a brick-and-mortar store, “but there are extra costs associated with the fact that now your business is 24/7.”

Vega points out that if you mess up, online shoppers can quickly spread the word through blogs, forums, message boards and other social-media means.

Also, there are numerous marketing considerations, some costly and others that require hard work and smart decisions. This includes optimizing your Web site for search engines through the proper use of keywords and by generating inbound links from relevant sites. It may mean creating a blog and establishing yourself as an industry expert to help drive customers to your site. You might experiment with online advertising in some of its various forms. There’s also traditional advertising and public relations.

As Vega says, “You can’t just throw the store online and say, ‘OK, go.’ ”