HostGator's annual scholarship program aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs pay for their education, while sharing their thoughts and visions for a world shaped by the internet. HostGator itself was founded in a college dorm room back in 2002 (shout out to Florida Atlantic University!), so we’re happy to announce this year's Website Scholarship program for college students!
Having been in the web hosting industry for over 15 years, we know firsthand how the internet has impacted the business world. Now we want to hear from you how it's impacted the world of education.
Three individual students will be selected to receive $1,500 in scholarship funds based on their winning essay responses to the question,“How has the internet impacted your education?”
A $1,500 scholarship will be awarded to three individual students who write the most compelling essays as judged by HostGator staff. Scholarship funds must be used to pay for qualified expenses, including tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Your completed 500-word essay response to the question "How has the internet impacted your education?" (Copied and pasted in the body of the email, or attached as a Word or Google doc)
Your college or university
Your expected year of graduation
Your intended major or area of study
The deadline for submissions is November 30th, 2017, and winners will be notified individually and announced on or about January 14, 2018.
Applicants must be enrolled in an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or graduate level program at an accredited 2-year college or 4-year university during the 2017-2018 academic year. Students of all majors are encouraged to apply.
Employees of or immediate family members of employees of HostGator or Endurance International Group are ineligible for this award.
Digital Rights Agreement:By submitting an entry to this competition, you agree that all essay and content submissions will become the property of HostGator and may be used in marketing materials, reposted or displayed online in whole or partial form without notification.
For more information on HostGator web hosting, please visit our home page.To learn more about last year's program and read the winning essays, click here.
While schools let out for the summer and the weather starts to get hotter, the tech world keeps moving. As usual, this month brings its share of tech company scandals, updates to common tech products, and tech news stories.
To help busy business people like you stay on top of it all, here’s our roundup of tech trends to pay attention to this month.
Zuckerberg Testifies as Facebook Continues to Profit
Facebook was frequently in the news last month – and mostly not in a good way. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg faced hours of questioning in front of Congress about the role the social media platform plays in society and politics. The company potentially faces significant fines and the scandal may be the beginning of government regulations for social media companies.
But even as Zuckerberg was being grilled by politicians, Facebook still finished the first quarter of the year with strong earnings and a growth in daily active users.
Sprint and T-Mobile Looking to Merge
The phone world finished out April with a bang with the news that two of the country’s biggest phone providers will be merging. Sprint and T-Mobile hope that by joining together, they’ll be able to more effectively compete with the two biggest players in the U.S. cell phone carrier space, Verizon and AT&T. And notably, they also hope that the merger will enable them to make the investment in 5G technology that’s required for the U.S. to stay competitive with China.
The companies have announced their intention to join forces, but they still face a considerable hurdle: government approval. If the government determines that the combination of the two companies means they take on too much of the market share, then the merger will be shot down in violation of antitrust laws. The companies seem to be banking on the business friendly politics of the current administration in choosing to attempt the merger at this time, but many experts are still skeptical the merger will happen.
Europe’s GDPR Deadline Has Companies Scrambling
Businesses around the world are struggling to make the changes that are required for them to be in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the European Union. The regulation officially takes effect on May 25, meaning the deadline for businesses looms large going into the month.
The GDPR places restrictions on what businesses can do with the user data they collect and how much data they’re allowed to collect to begin with. It also requires companies to disclose security breaches immediately.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the increasingly common data breaches we all hear about, this change may bring some peace of mind to European citizens. But the costs to businesses to comply with the new regulations is estimated to be up to $1 million per business. And the GDPR doesn’t apply to anyone outside of the E.U., so anyone in the U.S. concerned about data privacy can’t count on seeing any real change.
Gmail Makes Significant Updates
Gmail has just launched a significant update that could change the way you check your email. The new version of Gmail has a cleaner look, along with a number of new features. It puts your main organizational options on the same line as the email subject in your inbox, so it’s faster and more intuitive to move it where you want it to go. It gives a “Snooze” option and provides reminders about old emails that have been sitting in your inbox for a while, so you don’t forget to reply to them. Accessing attachments in a threaded email is easier. And you can choose to view your info from Google’s Calendar, Keep, and Tasks apps alongside your inbox.
For people who spend a lot of time dealing with email each day (which is probably true of most of you reading this), these changes can make a big difference to your efficiency and effectiveness.
Uber’s Private Arbitration Rule Under Fire
Uber’s been in the news before due to allegations of a culture of sexual harassment for employees. This issue adds further fuel to feminist criticisms of the company.
Zuora Launches, Sonos Files, and Tencent Considers IPO
We are in the midst of a huge few weeks in tech IPOs. In mid-April, Zuora, a company that provides a billing system for SaaS companies, went public and was an immediate success, jumping from $14 at launch to $20 at closing.
Following close on their heals, the smart speaker company, Sonos, has quietly filed paperwork to go public as soon as this coming June.
And inspired by Spotify’s successful IPO, China’s largest music streaming service, Tencent, is also eyeing a public offering – one that experts expect to be one of the biggest IPOs of the year.
This year has already been big for tech on the stock market, but the news this month suggests we’re just getting started.
Amazon’s Massive Profits Continue
In unsurprising news. Amazon had a great first quarter, with over $1 billion in profits. And with a $20 increase in the cost of Amazon Prime, they look poised to keep making even more.
That is, if the government doesn’t make changes that hurt the company’s profitability. Some recent Tweets from the president suggest he’s not a fan of the company and, in particular, the deals they receive from the United States Postal Service. Whether or not his opinion will lead to actions that influence Amazon’s bottom line is hard to predict at this point.
I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!
After a harsh couple of months, Snap finally has something positive for us to report on. They just released version two of the Snap Spectacles camera glasses and so far the response is positive.
The Spectacles can take photo and video, work underwater, and actually look good. They appear to offer the stylish looks and convenience that earlier models of AR glasses (like Google Glass) couldn’t manage. The Spectacles have already gone on sale for $150. Reviewers seem to like them, we’ll know soon enough if consumers agree.
Alexa Getting Smarter
Amazon’s smart assistant is set to gain some new features in the next few weeks. Amazon has announced that Alexa will soon be able to remember any information you tell her to, answer follow up questions using the information you provided in the first question, and pull out Amazon Skills in response to specific questions without you having to load them to the system first.
These features will make Alexa that much more useful to people and may give the product more of an edge in the smart assistant space.
Here's to May
As you can see, the tech world is in the midst of a busy month. We can only guess at how much more is to come in the next few weeks. Check back here next month for an update on the tech trends to be aware of going into June.
How Digital Advertising Works, or Why Your Ad Still Might Appear on Breitbart
Digital advertising is an inexpensive and convenient way to reach the target audience for your business—as long as it's not also undermining your brand image. Some major companies have learned the hard way recently that digital advertising's drawbacks include the possibility of exposure on sites they don't want associated with their brands. For example, Kellogg's, Warby Parker and other high-profile companies faced consumer complaints and bad publicity after the presidential election, when their ads were found on far-right-wing site Breitbart. Verizon, Walmart and other brands pulled their ads off YouTube earlier this year after they learned that the platform's automated ad serving tools were placing their ads on videos advocating violence and hate. If you're wondering (a) why ad networks would place their clients' ads next to controversial or offensive content and (b) whether your business should avoid digital advertising, it helps to understand how these brand missteps happened and what ad networks are doing to resolve the problem.
How does digital advertising work?
It's easier to understand digital ads if you compare them to old-fashioned pre-internet advertising. Back then, advertisers spent money to place their ads in specific magazines and newspapers or to air during particular radio and TV shows. These outlets had limited reach, but advertisers knew exactly what content they were supporting and which audiences they were reaching. Now, of course, there are millions of sites where businesses can display ads, and it's simply impossible to know them all.Digital advertising networks like Google AdSense, which includes YouTube, allow sites to join if they meet the network's criteria for appropriate content, audience, location, and more. Then the networks use machine learning, keyword algorithms, and consumer data to run “programmatic” ad placements on their network of sites. For example, a snowshoe company's ads might run on sites with content on alpine trekking and winter sports – but maybe also on sites dedicated to yeti sightings. Machine learning isn't perfect so it sometimes includes sites that aren't a good fit (yetis) or which cause brand damage by association (offensive content). Another digital advertising practice, ad retargeting, means that your prospects and customers may see your ads on many sites they visit, not because your brand has bought ad space on each of those sites in particular, but because those customers' browser cookies are set to display your ads on other sites they visit. If those cookies cause your company's ads to appear on sites with offensive content, the customer may think your company chose to place them there, and the brand damage is done.
Where, exactly, do your ads show up?
The short answer to the question of where your ads display is, it's hard to know. Huge digital ad networks, programmatic ad placement, and ad retargeting give companies with even small ad budgets the ability to reach lots of prospective customers across a wide geographic area. That's something that simply wasn't possible in the days before the digital transformation, when print, radio and television ads reached fewer consumers at a higher cost. This change has made it possible for small businesses and startups to build customer bases quickly and reach new customers inexpensively. Even better, from an audience-reach perspective, most digital advertising networks add new sites continuously, and sites like YouTube are inundated with fresh content to advertise on every day.The downside of a far-reaching, constantly expanding network that can display your ads anywhere is that your ads can turn up just about anywhere, and you may never know which sites your ads display on unless someone notifies you. Even when ad networks are vigilant about blacklisting known problem sites, new ones may fly under their radar until someone complains. If that someone is an angry customer or offended prospect, you have to respond quickly and appropriately to control the damage to your brand.
What are ad networks doing to fix the problem?
Some industry veterans say the real solution is for advertisers to demand more transparency about ad placement and better screening of participating sites by ad networks. This sort of pressure can work quickly. For example, Google gets 90% of its revenue from ads, so losing companies like Walmart and Verizon was a major motivator to improve their ad serving tools. As of this writing, the company's AdSense network is broadening its rules barring content that incites hate, promotes violence or advocates discrimination. AdSense could previously block an entire site for violating its rules, but now the network can block individual pages, which makes it easier to keep ads off hateful user-generated content in—for example—comments sections.About a month after several major brands pulled their ads off YouTube, the video platform announced new audit tools. Companies can use these tools to see exactly where their ads have been placed on the site. Ad networks can also supplement their machine-learning algorithms with human reviews of content, as YouTube is doing. Human input can make ad-serving algorithms less error-prone over time, but it's grueling work that requires screening a constant stream of new sites and videos quickly.
How can you protect your brand and still reach your target audience?
Because the number of sites in most ad networks is always changing, and because machine learning will always need human input to keep up with new sites and new controversies, it's up to you to protect your brand's image. Here are some best practices for your business's online ad program.
Talk to prospective ad networks about your concerns before you sign up and find out what their requirements are for publishers to participate in their networks.
Know your “lines in the sand” before you launch your digital ad campaigns. This can save response time if there are complaints later on.
Use your ad network's opt-out lists to pinpoint specific sites or categories you don't want to associate with your brand. For example, YouTube advertisers can opt out of up to 5 categories, including hot-button social issues, tragedies, profanity, sexually suggestive content, and “sensational and shocking” videos.
Respond quickly to any ad complaints from customers and ad-advocacy groups, and follow up to let them know how you've resolved their complaints. Thoughtful, timely responses can mitigate the damage to your company's reputation.
Immediately report any consumer complaints about your ads to your ad network and have your ads blocked from sites your customers have complained about.
Consider using an ad auditing service to evaluate the quality of impressions your ads earn on the networks you participate in. Startups like DoubleVerify offer audits across multiple ad networks.
With digital advertising, the positive still outweighs the negative for brands
Ultimately, you shouldn't let the prospect of misplaced ads discourage you from using digital advertising to promote your business. In most cases, digital ads appear where they're supposed to, and the tools that ad networks use to screen sites are increasingly effective. The problem of inappropriate content will probably never go away entirely, but ad networks know their business model depends on helping advertisers protect their brands.
As a consumer, remember that brands care most about giving you what you want. If you don't want ads of brands you love to appear on sites you hate, the fix could be as simple as not visiting those sites.
HostGator joined our sister company Constant Contact in removing our ads from sites like Breitbart. If you see us our ads on those sites, it is likely a result of retargeting, although we encourage you to let us know in the comments below or by contacting our support team.
Learn more about advertising on Facebook and Instagram from the HostGator blog.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just chocolates and rose petals on the bed. Although many have criticized the holiday as being another excuse to go out and spend wads of cash, it can also be an excellent opportunity to provide your significant other with something both useful and close to the heart.
If you know your SO to be digitally savvy, then surprising them with the right gadget can be far more meaningful than flowers from the grocery store. We’ve hand selected gifts for a variety of budgets that should be able to satisfy anyone with an affinity for cool stuff. Most importantly, they’ll show how creative and thoughtful you are!
Valentine's Tech Gifts Under $50
For those of you with a budget in mind, do not panic! These three gifts under $50 will seem like you splurged, yet they’re incredibly practical.
For those of you with an iPhone, there may have been a time (or two, or three) when you were delighted to find your phone using Apple's Find iPhone feature. If your partner has a reputation for losing other important items, namely their keys, wallet, or dog, then that little fantasy you’ve always had about built in GPS has finally come true.Tile comes in a variety of sizes and quantities, providing a discrete homing device that won’t become detached easily. The Tile app works both ways as well. For instance, if you have your keys but can’t find your phone then you can press the Tile to sound off where your phone was put.We love this gift because saving yourself from moments of stress when you're running late can really have a positive impact on your life.Available on Amazon.
2. 365 Day Custom Tearaway Calendar - Social Print Studio ($40)
Does your Valentine love Instagram? How about photography? Maybe just photos of the two of you, every day of the year?Social Print Studio has developed a web page that easily imports your social media photos and turns then into a tear calendar for the entire year. Several companies have already offered Instagram booklets and keepsakes, but considering most avid social media users have over 365 post-worthy photos, it’s a glorious idea to be able to reflect on all your best moments over the course of a year. What’s more, Social Print Studio uses a thicker paper weight, so if you'd like a more permanent keepsake than a tearaway calendar, you can tear and place the photos on your wall in a mosaic of memories. Available on SocialPrintStudio.com.
3. Google Chromecast ($35)
Technologically speaking, we’ve gone from large bulky devices down to compact smart phones, and now we've found ourselves desiring the capability to watch streaming content on bigger screens again.
Google saw an easy opportunity to bridge the gap between devices large and small. With the Google Chromecast you can stream any content from your smaller devices right to your TV using Bluetooth and an adorable device the size of a fifty cent piece. Available in coral, lemonade, and black.
Available on the Google Store.
Valentine's Tech Gifts Under $100
$100 is stepping into a price range with wide open possibilities, but for the sake of thoughtfulness, we honed in on a couple items we think have a particular relevance to couples and the time of year.
1. Fitbit Fitness Trackers ($79.99)
If there’s one thing tech enthusiasts find sexy, it’s well organized data. Pair that with body sculpting fitness motivation and you have a Valentine’s Day gift beneficial to both partners.Sleek in design and function, Fitbit has a dominant stake in the fitness tracking industry. Some of its popular features include measuring steps, duration and quality of sleep, heart rate, and calories burned. Plus, it pairs with your smart phone to display caller ID, texts, and reminders, so you don’t have to pull your phone out in the middle of exercising.This gift is perfect for the active, or seeking-to-be active, couple. Having just started a new year it can be very easy to lose the fitness motivation by February 14th. Don't be a cliché - keep up with your New Year's resolution for a healthy 2017! Available on Fitbit.
It's not uncommon for your cell phone to die with regular use over the course of a business day, and what says I love you more than “I want to be able to call you no matter what!”?Portable charging devices have been on the market for some time, yet their popularity has been underwhelming at best. Having just gone through the most brutal January of my life in Lake Tahoe, with an unusual abundance of power outages, I can personally testify to the usefulness of this device.Spare your SO the hassle of being without mobile connectivity and give them some backup power.Available on Amazon.
Valentine's Tech Gifts Over $100
Sometimes it’s fun to buy a gift not just for your partner, but for the "us," if you catch my drift. These gifts are perfect for unique couple experiences, and those who like to travel light.
1. Portable Mobile Projector - RIF6 Cube Mobile Projector ($275)
Nothing says James Bond more than pulling out a mini projector in times when you want to cozy up to your movie buddy. Two inches square and powered by 50 lumens, this projector is capable of screening full 1080p with 90 minutes of battery life.The RIF6 comes with HDMI and MHL connection cables, a USB charger, Remote control, flexible mini tripod, and a comfortable 1-year warranty. Potential uses include movies in the backpacking tent, screening parties in your hostel abroad, or impressive client displays for your business life.Available on Amazon.
2. Portable Photo Printer - HP Sprocket ($129.99)
Nowadays we’re taking more photos than ever before thanks to smart phone cameras, but how often do we print our photos? A portable photo printer makes it easy. Snap a photo on your smart phone, and then print it out immediately for your loved one to put on the fridge.The photos print at 2” x 3” on sticky back paper via Bluetooth. What’s nice is you don’t have to make the extra investment buying a new-age Polaroid. All you need is a smartphone!Available on Amazon.
Bonus Gift: A Brand New Website!
Sure, the gadgets above are neat, but if you want to really impress your valentine, consider getting them a gift that's all digital. How about powerful web hosting that includes a free website builder, one-click script installs, and 24/7 support? We may be biased, but we love the idea!
It’s a new year and we’re excited to see what’s to come with new tech innovations and stories in the next twelve months. To start the year off, we already have an inkling of some of the stories you’ll be hearing about in January.
Here are some of the tech news subjects to keep on your radar this month.
1. The Bitcoin Roller Coaster
You’ve probably been seeing a lot of references to Bitcoin lately, but what you hear can change day to day. The cryptocurrency has been making headlines for big spikes and drops in value over the past few weeks.
In early December all the talk was about how the currency was worth far more than most experts anticipated. As we neared the end of the year, the news shifted to drops in the price. In the New Year, it’s on the rise again (although that may have changed by the time this story goes up).
If this trend continues, we’ll likely be hearing a lot about Bitcoin well into January and possibly for the entire year to come.
2. CES Conference
The Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most important conferences in the tech world, is happening January 9-12 in Las Vegas.
Put on by the Consumer Technology Association, the conference is famous for being the place where many of the biggest tech businesses in the world announce their most exciting new products and updates to the larger public.
Expect to see a steady stream of stories from tech journalists covering innovations in areas like AR, the smart home, and more. And check back here next month if you’re worried about catching it all – some of the news is likely to make our February roundup.
3. Disney and Fox Move Toward Merger
Two media behemoths are about to join forces, as long as the government doesn’t stop the merger as an antitrust violation.
The merger is largely being reported as part of Disney’s larger plan to shift their business model toward the popularity of streaming entertainment. They’ve already announced plans to release their own streaming platforms, and access to all of Fox’s content properties will go a long way to making them more competitive in a space dominated by brands like Netflix and Hulu that got there first.
4. YouTube Makes a Deal with Music Companies
After a long negotiation process, YouTube has signed deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Entertainment to provide payment to artists whose music is shared through the platform.
The deal will help support YouTube’s move to get more sign ups for the relatively new subscription version of the platform.
5. Tech Shakes Up How We Get Groceries
Buying groceries is one of the most common chores that almost everyone has to do, but what the task looks like is changing as tech companies continue to disrupt the market.
Amazon buying Whole Foods last year already suggested a big shift to grocery delivery replacing trips to the store. Getting into the same game, Target bought Shipt, a grocery delivery company, just last month.
Another big change taking shape is the move toward unmanned stores.
Amazon opened one last year, but one of their biggest competitors in China has plans to open hundreds of people-less convenience stores in the near future. These stores skip the checkout process, letting you simply choose what you like and leave, while tech that recognizes who you are and what products you’ve chosen takes care of the payment process for you.
6. Apple Draws Derision in Battery Controversy
Every year, Apple releases updated iPhones and many customers eagerly switch over to the new model. Those who patiently opt to stick with the phone they have eventually find it working more slowly or failing to stay charged as long until they too choose to upgrade to a new model. Turns out, the slower functioning of older phones is by design.
Apple upset lots of its customers last month by admitting that new iOS updates intentionally slow down older phones.
They claim it’s because the batteries get worn out, so the slower functioning saves the phones from shutting down as quickly, but many customers suspect it’s a ploy to get people to shell out for new phones. Some customers have gone as far as suing, and Apple has responded to the outrage with apologies and an offer to sell new batteries for old phones at a lower rate than previously.
Their competitors have (perhaps smugly) responded with assurances that they would never slow down customers’ phones. Whether or not this will put a dent in the iPhone’s overall popularity remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t make the company look good.
7. Tech IPOs on the Horizon
Experts are predicting that 2018 will be a big year in tech IPOs.
For January, many eyes are on Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone company, which could become one of the biggest tech IPOs ever if or when it comes to fruition. DocuSign’s another possibility this month, as they alerted the media last year of their plans to go public in “early 2018.”
IPOs are notoriously hard to predict, so we’ll see which companies actually take the plunge in the month and year to come.
8. Amazon and Google Rivalry Gets Petty
While a lot of the news this month is about companies merging, there are still plenty of big players in competition with each other. Last month, two of the biggest tech giants of all, Amazon and Google, got petty in their rivalry when Google chose to deactivate its YouTube app on all of Amazon’s Fire TV devices.
Customers who could easily pull up YouTube on their Amazon Fire TV or with the Fire stick now get directed to a browser where they have to type youtube.com in to access the popular video service. Many see this as retaliation for Amazon’s refusal to sell certain Google products like Chromecast and Google Home on the site (if you type in “Google Home” in Amazon, you get Amazon’s smart home products in the results).
The main losers here are the customers who have to deal with compatibility issues between different products and services. But at least in this case, the workaround is pretty simple.
9. Mixed Reality Goggles on the Way
The company Magic Leap has started to share details of its augmented reality system with the public. While they haven’t announced a release date yet, they’ve shown a demo of the product to tech journalists.
Their system includes goggles and a handheld controller that are linked to a small pocket-sized computer. The three pieces all work together to provide an immersive AR experience where you can interact with video game characters that make eye contact and see a fictional world and characters transposed on the world around you.
If the product hits the market in 2018 as intended, it brings us that much closer to the kind of virtual reality experience people have been imagining in sci-fi stories and movies for decades.
10. Amazon Extends Smart Home Business with Blink Acquisition
As if it wasn’t already obvious that Amazon wants to take over our homes with technology, their acquisition of the smart security startup Blink adds to the type of products and technology they now have access to.
Blink’s smart security devices, including cameras and a smart doorbell, offer connectivity between different security devices and your phone at a more affordable rate than many competitors. They’re a natural fit for Amazon, which is already behind many of the most popular smart home products on the market.
11. Britain Makes High-Speed Internet a Legal Right
While the U.S. has been debating the repeal of net neutrality, the UK made a move in the opposite direction last month, declaring that all the country’s residents deserve access to high-speed internet as a legal right.
Internet providers in the country will be required to provide all homes with at least 10 megabits per second of data speed, the amount the government has determined is required for reasonable use by the average family.
The decision puts internet on par with utilities like water and electricity in how the government handles it, showing just how important internet has become to how people live their day-to-day lives.
January promises to be a big month for tech news, and 2018 is sure to bring us loads of surprises and interesting stories. Check back next month to see what’s going on in the tech world In February.