Friday, November 2, 2007

[G] New from AdSense: video units

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Blogger Buzz: New from AdSense: video units

AdSense recently introduced a feature called video units, that lets you include relevant YouTube video on your blog, and make money from ads on it. Here's what they have to say about it:
"We're excited about the launch of video units -- a new way to enrich your blog with quality, relevant video content in an embedded, customizable player. Simply embed a snippet of code and have relevant YouTube partner content streamed to your blog. You can choose categories of video to target to your site, select content from individual YouTube partners, or have video automatically targeted to your blog's content. Companion and text overlay ads are relevant and non-intrusive. To further blend the YouTube player into your blog, you can also customize the color scheme and layout as well as choose from three different player sizes."
AdSense Help has some more information about video units. Once you've created the code for a video unit, you can easily add it to your blog's template using an HTML/JavaScript page element.


[G] Site Search Now Available

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Google Analytics Blog: Site Search Now Available

We recently announced several new features. Beginning today, all Google Analytics accounts have access to the first of these features to be released: Site Search. It's currently only available if your language preference is set to English; it will be available in all languages soon.

Google Analytics has always shown you how people search to find your site. With Site Search, you can now see how people search your site once they are already on it. This is a goldmine of information because every time visitors search, they literally tell you in their own words what they are looking for. You'll not only see their initial searches, but how they attempted to refine searches when they didn't find what they were looking for. You'll see which pages they searched from and where they ended up. And you'll see how site search correlates with conversion and ecommerce activity. As we beta tested this feature, we became even more convinced of the value of having a search box on a site.

If you don't have a search box on your site yet, you might consider using the new Google Custom Search Engine (both free and paid versions are available). If you already have a site search solution, it is highly likely that our new Site Search reports will already work with it (including Google's GSA and Mini products).

The Site Search reports appear within the Content section. You'll need to enable Site Search to see the reports in the navigation.

Perhaps the easiest way to dive into the reports is to click Overview under Site Search and explore the links that appear on the right hand side of the report. (See the screenshot of links, above.)

For those who want to use the report navigation, the reports are broken down as follows. Overview is both a summary of site search activity and a jumping-off point to discover additional site search information. Usage allows you to compare visits that included site search against visits that did not include site search.

Search Terms
shows you what people search for and how they attempt to refine unsuccessful searches. Start Pages and Destination Pages shows you where visitors begin their searches and where they end up. Categories shows you the product groups and areas on your site that visitors search. Trending allows you to track individual search metrics over time. The Segments menu, available in most reports, allows you to cross segment any group of searchers.

We have several new articles in our Help Center to help you get started like How do I set up Site Search for my profile? and How do I identify my search query parameter?.
You can click on the Common Questions link from any report to see Help articles related to Site Search. Finally, you may wish to read Avinash's excellent tutorial on the five things you should do with your site search data.


[G] Right from the resource

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Inside AdSense: Right from the resource

We know it can be tough to keep track of all the official AdSense-related documentation we've put online; that's why we're happy to introduce you to the new Resources tab in your account.

We've compiled links to a number of resources under this tab, including the Help Center, Program Policies, and Help Forum. If you're looking to improve the performance of your ads, you can now easily navigate to our Optimization Tips page or to publisher tools like Analytics.

Need help with implementing your ad code or viewing your ads? Try our Demos & Guides or Troubleshooting Wizards, all available under the Resources tab.

Oh, and if you happen to forget the URL of the Inside AdSense blog, you can always find a link to us under this new tab as well. :)


Thursday, November 1, 2007

[G] OpenSocial makes the web better

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Official Google Blog: OpenSocial makes the web better

As the web goes, so goes Google, and that's why we care about making the web better. Five months ago, we launched Google Gears to make the web better by making it work offline. Now, we want to make the web better by making it more social.

A tremendous amount of activity is occurring on social networks these days. Hundreds of millions of people share photos, rate movies, and throw virtual sheep at one another. All these social networks are looking to give their communities more and more things to do -- and they realize they can't do it on their own. They need to open up and become platforms for developers to extend. So, many social networks have looked at, or launched, their own APIs that typically do the same kinds of things: give access to user profiles and friend networks, and allow an application to post activities so that everyone's circle of friends knows what the others are doing. All of this has been good news, because developers could get their applications onto a social network.

But there's a problem: it wasn't one or two social networks doing this, but ten or fifteen. Now, to get on all the social networks a developer has had to customize their application for each one. When your "development team" is just one or two people, the proliferation of APIs forces you to make tough choices, because you can't do that much one-off work. Not only is this situation bad for developers, it's bad for consumers too: When developers can't afford to do the work to make their applications work on a certain social network, the people using those networks lose out.

That's why today we're excited to introduce OpenSocial, a set of common APIs that make it easy to create and host social applications on the web. OpenSocial allows developers to write an application once that will run anywhere that supports the OpenSocial APIs.

It's good for developers because it makes it easier for them to focus on making their web apps better; they get lots of distribution with a lot less work. It's good for websites, because they can tap into the creativity of the largest possible developer community (and no longer have to compete with one another for developer attention). And finally, it's good for users, because they get more applications in more places. Global members of the OpenSocial community include MySpace,, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo,, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING.

We were thrilled to see so many partners turn out for our very first CampFire One event, a small gathering of developers at the Googleplex. They do the best job of explaining why they support this vision of an open, programmable web. And so in the spirit of being social, we want to share the video from tonight's event.


[G] Your town in 3D

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Google LatLong: Your town in 3D

We've all heard that big things come in small packages. Well, in the small town of McMinnville, Tennessee, a group of visionary folks are planning something pretty big: a community-wide effort to develop a 3D model of their town in Google Earth -- the first of its kind in the state. The project, dubbed 3D Downtown, is being led by a non-profit organization called Main Street McMinnville and includes volunteers from the State Department of Economic and Community Development, the City Planning
office, the Chamber of Commerce, the local

College and Technology Center, and a host of local businesses.

This coming Friday at 9 a.m. sharp, Main Street McMinnville will host a modeling training session to officially kick off the project. Local volunteer modelers have signed on to participate; participants from Google will also be on-site to lead the training of the Google SketchUp Pro and Google Earth Pro software that we've donated to help the effort.
We hope this local endeavor will inspire members of other communities to coordinate 3D modeling projects of their own. Like McMinnville, many towns are faced with the challenge of balancing the need for growth with historic preservation, while seeking more effective ways to engage the community in a dialogue. The introduction of realistic yet virtual representations of towns could help facilitate solving these issues. From design professionals and urban planners to city agencies and people responsible for economic development, anyone and everyone can access and use our tools.

If you'd like to develop a 3D model of your town own, you can use our free, downloadable modeling tools via the Google SketchUp website. For larger modeling projects, we offer SketchUp Pro and Google Earth Pro software. We encourage communities that are limited by funds or resources to apply for SketchUp Pro licenses. We look forward to seeing your town in a whole new dimension!


[G] New languages & new features for international users

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Google Photos Blog: New languages & new features for international users

Photography has always helped people see more of the world we live in, and exploring the photos in our 'Community Search' gets more interesting every time we add support for a new language. Today, we're happy to announce that Picasa and Picasa Web Albums are now available in 38 language interfaces. Our newest arrivals include Bulgarian, Catalan, Hindi, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Filipino, Thai and Vietnamese. Additionally, we've just added international support for Picasa Web Albums for mobile devices, as well as for our 'Map My Photos' feature, which lets you show people exactly where you took your favorite snapshots.

We're looking forward to seeing even more great pictures from across the globe -- so have fun!


[G] Introducing the MGD Monitor

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Google LatLong: Introducing the MGD Monitor

As this space doesn't have guest bloggers very frequently, you are probably wondering why they have given it to someone at the UN, an organization not normally associated with cutting-edge tech savvy. The reason is that we have partnered with Google and Cisco on an innovative resource called MDG Monitor. MDG stands for Millennium Development Goals, which are targets that the international community set to decrease extreme global poverty by 2015. Because we work with UN colleagues and partner governments in more than 130 countries across the globe, we needed to have this valuable information accessible from one easy place.

And that's where the MDG Monitor layer in Google Earth comes in. It enables people to virtually fly around the globe to chart our progress in the fight against poverty. And this information can be easily shared with anyone who needs it. At a glance, we can assess how the world is doing, redouble our efforts in areas that need work, and make more informed decisions about how to help those who need it most.

In the minute it will take to download this information, more than two children will have died from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. We can do better with your help! We have a huge task in front of us, but with partnerships like this, our goals get closer to becoming reality.


[G] Clicks, conversions, and Christmas

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Inside AdWords: Clicks, conversions, and Christmas

Online advertisers have noticed that CPCs tend to increase during the holiday season and have asked us why. We turned to Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist, for an explanation:
Many advertisers track their average cost-per-click (CPC), but what really matters for the bottom line is the average cost-per-acquisition (CPA): how much you have to spend on advertising to make a sale. The third factor to watch is the conversion rate, which is defined as conversions (sales) per click.

Note that these numbers are neatly tied together by the convenient formula:

CPA = CPC/Conversion rate = (cost/click)/(conversions/click).

Clicks, cost, and conversions all go up during the holidays. As it happens, conversions increase more than clicks, so conversion rates tend to rise. This makes the clicks more valuable, so advertisers raise their bids to reach more consumers. As a result CPCs get pushed up.

(Click image for full-size version)

The plot above shows the median CPC, the median conversion rate, and the median CPA during the 2006 holiday season for those Google AdWords advertisers who use conversion tracking. The series have been normalized so they all start at the same point on November 1.

Last year, Thanksgiving fell on November 23. Note how the conversion rate (green) and the CPC (blue) both dropped on that day which means CPA (red) went up. Perhaps watching football and eating turkey trumped online shopping on Thanksgiving?

Right after Turkey Day, people started on their Christmas shopping so conversion rates started to rise. During this period, advertisers raised their bids in order to get more prominent positions in the ad auctions so they could attract those shoppers. That increased the median CPC (blue). But the conversion rate rose more than the CPC, which pushed CPA (red) down. Even though the clicks cost more, the conversions -- what really matter -- cost less.

The conversion rate peaked on December 11, somewhat before the peak of overall retail sales, since it takes time to process and ship the online orders. By December 23, things were pretty much back to normal. Once Christmas Day arrived, conversion rates dropped to their lowest point of the year -- people were just too busy opening presents to think about buying more things… at least for the next few days.

The bottom line is that is that the cost of clicks does tend to rise during the holidays. But since those clicks are more likely to turn into sales, the CPA goes down, making those seemingly expensive clicks quite a bargain. If you are interested in tracking how your own conversion rates and CPAs change during the holiday season, you can set up AdWords Conversion Tracking on your ads and see how these metrics work for you.

Thanks to Hal for his explanation on how the holiday season can affect the ROI for an AdWords campaign. And remember, you can always visit the AdWords Help Center year-round to read up on tips on how to improve your ad performance.


[G] An update on channel reports

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Inside AdSense: An update on channel reports

We'd like to provide you with an update on the recent channels issue -- our engineers have been working to provide publishers with their missing data, and you should see this data in your account by early next week. Thanks again for your patience!


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

[G] IMAP access now available for all users

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Official Gmail Blog: IMAP access now available for all users

Last week we announced we were providing you with free IMAP access and said we would roll out the feature over time as fast as we could. I'm happy to say that all Gmail users can now enable IMAP and sync their inbox across devices. Right now you'll only see IMAP settings in Gmail if you're using the English (US) interface, but IMAP will appear for all languages in the coming weeks. Check out our Help Center to learn more about IMAP, or watch our video to learn how to quickly set it up on the iPhone.


[G] More languages in 3D Warehouse

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Google LatLong: More languages in 3D Warehouse

If you've had a chance to stop by the Google SketchUp Blog today, you most likely saw my post heralding the release of 3D Warehouse in eight new languages. Now Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Korean, Arabic, Czech, and Traditional Chinese join our list of available translations. Already included are English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

We're hoping the release of Google 3D Warehouse in these additional languages will encourage folks across the globe to contribute sketches. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing all of your work!

For more information about getting started, take a look at this 3D Warehouse overview.


[G] The FTC's advertising town hall, and our new privacy channel

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Google Public Policy Blog: The FTC's advertising town hall, and our new privacy channel

The rapid growth of the Internet -- and the promise of future growth -- has been driven primarily by online advertising. Web sites and search engines are able to provide valuable services to consumers for free due in large part to advertiser funding. Like commercials on television and ads in newspapers and magazines, online ads have become staples of the Internet medium. Without them, many web sites would either have to charge subscription fees or would simply cease to exist.

At the same time, one of the most powerful aspects of the Internet is its ability to personalize information for each particular user. Personalization allows consumers to receive the information, content, and products they want. The same holds true for online advertising. Targeted online advertising benefits consumers by showing them ads that are useful, relevant, and pertain to their particular interests.

This week, we're joining consumer advocates, technology experts, and academics for the Federal Trade Commission's two-day "town hall" meeting on behavioral advertising. This is the first time since 2000 that the Commission has taken an industry-wide look at online advertising practices, and given the recent acquisitions in the space by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others, it's a good time to explore the privacy implications of new ad technologies, and in an industry-wide way. A few Googlers will be on hand to discuss principles that can guide online advertising in the future:

  • Tim Armstrong, Google's President of North American Advertising and Commerce, will describe Google's core advertising business, and the benefits that our advertising products bring to consumers and to advertisers and publishers — including thousands of small businesses. Tim will also discuss why we purchased DoubleClick, what its business model is, and the great importance that we have placed on privacy in the context of this acquisition. And he'll talk about the importance of user trust to Google and our need to maintain that trust by protecting user privacy in our advertising practices.
  • Nicole Wong, our Deputy General Counsel, will describe Google's efforts to embed privacy awareness into all corners of the company's operations by deploying a broad team of people, including privacy counsels, product counsels, product developers, and security and support teams, to work on privacy as part of their everyday jobs. Nicole will also detail Google's efforts to make sure we protect our users' privacy while making online advertising more relevant and effective. She will explain how Google's advertising offerings target ads to consumers using query-based targeting and contextual targeting.
  • Jane Horvath, Senior Privacy Counsel, will talk about our efforts to innovate in the area of privacy. Jane will describe how we build principles of transparency and choice into Google products and outline the steps we've taken to deliver on our commitment to communicate clearly with users about privacy. Our users are increasingly using blogs and videos to communicate with one another, and we're using these tools to provide more accessible, easy-to-understand explanations of our privacy policies.
In that vein, we're launching a new Google Privacy Channel on YouTube which will feature videos that are designed to keep users informed about our privacy policies and initiatives. Our goal is simple: to empower you, our users, to make more informed choices about how you use our products.


[G] By the pricking of our thumbs...

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Official Google Blog: By the pricking of our thumbs...

... something Googley this way comes.

It's that time of year, when ghouls, goblins, and Zeitghosts roam Google in search of fresh human bandwidth. We hope you enjoy these Halloween photos from several of our offices, and wish you a safe -- but suitably scary -- celebration.

And if you're looking to plot that perfect trick-or-treat route, might we recommend the My Maps feature on Google maps? You can even tag videos and pictures from your spooky night, highlighting your favorite stops. If you like seeing our ghoulish get-ups, you can use Picasa Web Albums to share yours with kindred costumed spirits.

Now get out there and enjoy All Hallow's Eve.


[G] Trick-or-Treat

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Inside AdSense: Trick-or-Treat

Happy Halloween from the AdSense Team!


[G] How our spam filter works

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Official Gmail Blog: How our spam filter works

I got lucky in April 2004, when Gmail had just launched, and I snagged one of the first invitations (I didn't work at Google at the time, but had a few friends who did). One of the first things I noticed was the spam filter. I had used another webmail service for the previous few years and was used to seeing spam in my inbox every day. With Gmail, I almost never did, and what's more, I didn't have legitimate email ending up in the spam folder (I eventually just stopped looking there). This is still true today, even though I've had my email address for 3+ years and use it on many sites around the web.

Now that I work on Gmail, not only do I keep an eye on my personal email, but I also monitor Gmail-wide stats which rigorously measure how our spam filters are doing. And despite an increase in spam targeted at Gmail, we're keeping more unwanted messages out of your inbox than ever before:

Spam Chart

We get mail and read posts all the time from people who've noticed these results:
  • "None of my real emails have slipped into the spam folder and I remember only one spam reaching my inbox in the period I've been using Gmail. Spam is the bane of the Internet and it is refreshing to see Gmail put up such a good fight against it." - Eric, who wrote into our support team

  • "I've been using Gmail as my main email account ever since I started receiving an average of 2,500 emails a day...of which 70 percent are...personal health products, free software, and more! If not for this wonderful spam filter of Gmail, I'd have to spend 48 hours sitting in front of my mail 24/7 just to keep up!" - Nicholas, CNET blogger
To help explain how our spam filter works, we put together a video starring some of our anti-spam engineers. Enjoy!


[G] Happy Halloween to our spooktacular webmasters!

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Happy Halloween to our spooktacular webmasters!

With apologizes to Vic Mizzy, we've written short verse to the tune of the "Addams Family" theme (please use your imagination):

We may be hobbyists or just geeky,
Building websites and acting cheeky,
Javascript redirects we won't make sneaky,
Our webmaster fam-i-ly!

Happy Halloween everyone! Feel free to join the discussion and share your Halloween stories and costumes.

Magnum P.I., Punk Rocker, Rubik's Cube, Mr. T., and Rainbow Brite
a.k.a. Several members of our Webmaster Tools team: Dennis Geels, Jonathan Simon, Sean Harding, Nish Thakkar, and Amanda Camp

Panda and Lolcat
Or just Evan Tang and Matt Cutts?

7 Indexing Engineers and 1 Burrito

Cheese Wysz, Internet Repairman, Community Chest, Internet Pirate (don't tell the RIAA)
Helpful members of the Webmaster Help Group: Wysz, MattD, Nathan Johns (nathanj) , and Bergy

Webspam Engineer Shashi Thakur (in the same outfit he wore to Searchnomics)

Hawaiian Surfer Dude and Firefox
Members of Webmaster Central's communications team: Reid Yokoyama and Mariya Moeva

Napolean Dynamite and Raiderfan
Shyam Jayaraman (speaking at SES Chicago and hopefully doing the dance) and me


[G] Earthquake mapping

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Google LatLong: Earthquake mapping

I was working kind of late last night, and around 8:04 pm, I felt the floor underneath my desk shake and move. For a second I thought the Google Halloween party was getting wild, but then I realized I was experiencing my first earthquake!

Equipped with my mapping skills, I went to explore what exactly happened. I found some cool things about the earthquake by using Google Maps, and I thought I would pass this info along to you:

Where did it happen?
A search through user-generated content on Google Maps quickly provided the answer. Many of our My Maps users created maps pointing to the center of the earthquake minutes after it happened. To access this data, search for "Alum Rock Earthquake" scroll down the search results, and click on "see more community maps."

Add earthquakes to your map:
I didn't think our post from the folks at the U.S. Geological Survey would come in handy quite so soon! Their Earthquake Mapplet shows all of the earthquakes that have taken place throughout the world in the last week. Click on the "Save to My Maps" link to customize your My Maps tab and include earthquake data.

Explore earthquakes in Google Earth:
A 3D view of earthquakes is very useful to understand their impact. If you have Google Earth installed, check out this Earthquake KML from USGS. Fly to San Jose, click on the big orange circle, and choose "View ShakeMap" link to see the full impact of the earthquake.


[G] Better geographic choices for webmasters

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Better geographic choices for webmasters

Written by Amanda Camp, Webmaster Tools and Trystan Upstill, International Search Quality Team

Starting today Google Webmaster Tools helps you better control the country association of your content on a per-domain, per-subdomain, or per-directory level. The information you give us will help us determine how your site appears in our country-specific search results, and also improves our search results for geographic queries.

We currently only allow you to associate your site with a single country and location. If your site is relevant to an even more specific area, such as a particular state or region, feel free to tell us that. Or let us know if your site isn't relevant to any particular geographic location at all. If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we'll continue to make geographic associations largely based on the top-level domain (e.g. or .ca) and the IP of the webserver from which the context was served.

For example, if we wanted to associate with Hungary:

But you don't want" associated with any country...

This feature is restricted for sites with a country code top level domain, as we'll always associate that site with the country domain. (For example, will always be the version of Google associated with Russia.)

Note that in the same way that Google may show your business address if you register your brick-and-mortar business with the Google Local Business Center, we may show the information that you give us publicly.

This feature was largely initiated by your feedback, so thanks for the great suggestion. Google is always committed towards helping more sites and users get better and more relevant results. This is a new step as we continue to think about how to improve searches around the world.

We encourage you to tell us what you think in the Webmaster Tools section of our discussion group.


[G] Map of the day: Halloween edition

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Google LatLong: Map of the day: Halloween edition

Happy Halloween from the Google Maps team! If you're looking for local costume parties or haunted houses, here are some Halloween event maps for different cities in the U.S.:

Portland corn mazes and pumpkin patches - A guide to Portland, Oregon metro-area corn mazes, pumpkin patches and fall harvest events, created by the Oregonian News.

Chicago's Haunted Houses - Best places for a scare in the Windy City.

Halloween Happenings in Detroit - Fun events for the entire family throughout the month of October, created by

Where the Scares Are, LA 2007 - A map to month-long haunted attractions throughout greater Los Angeles, created by

OC Halloween Events - The top Halloween attractions, events, and entertainment in Orange County, including Disneyland, Knott's Scary Farm, haunted houses, Halloween balls and more.

Halloween in Tampa Bay - All of Tampa Bay's spooky events.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

[G] Custom Search Results Overlay

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Google Custom Search: Custom Search Results Overlay

The ability to integrate Custom Search with your site is an important feature , and we recently added a new option to the Code tab that makes this integration easier. Using AJAX techniques, you can now get your search results in an overlay that appears on top of the page containing the search box. Here's an example.

Go to the Code tab of your search engine's control panel and select "Host results on a non-Google site" and "overlay" to get this new code.

Behind the scenes, this is powered by the AJAX Search API, which gives you complete control of your search results and is easy to use with Custom Search.


[G] Get Docs in 38 languages

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Official Google Docs Blog: Get Docs in 38 languages

Earlier today we launched Google Docs in 13 more languages, bringing our total number of supported languages to 38. That means 99% of the world's Internet users can collaborate in a version of Docs fully localized to their native language.

The new languages are: Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Filipino, Greek, Hindi, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, and Slovenian.


[G] "Virtual candidates" and web politics in Scandinavia

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Google Public Policy Blog: "Virtual candidates" and web politics in Scandinavia

Elections bring new and interesting uses of the Internet. A case in point is Denmark's snap election in November.

The country is very Internet-savvy and was recently found to have the highest broadband penetration in Europe. So it comes as no surprise that Danish politicians are extremely interested in finding effective ways to use the Net for their campaigns. They are buying keywords, emailing videos with political messages, and blogging. Commentators are arguing that the Net will revolutionize the elections. Some are using their blogs to craft policy reform proposals in collaboration with readers on issues such as VAT reform (a fairly technical issue).

At the same time, political analysts are complaining that political parties need to do a better job of designing websites that rank well in search engines. A study mentioned here tested 100 politically important search terms and checked if political parties came up in the first ten hits. The party that ranked best -- the Socialist People's Party -- had 18 hits in the top ten of the 100 words (that is, their website showed up somewhere in the top ten search results for 18 out of the 100 words tested). And some candidates still treat the Net as a broadcast medium, failing to invite dialogue and interaction.

By contrast, some Danish candidates are going all the way. Bent Soelberg, a candidate for Venstre (the Danish Social Liberal Party), has decided to campaign for a seat in parliament solely on the Internet. No signs, no meetings, no stickers, no printed leaflets -- just the Net. The large Danish daily Berlingske Tidende calls him the "first virtual candidate" and has written an interesting piece on his adventures in Net politics, calling him a "voter-seeking missile" Hmm. Mixed imagery, there. If he gets in he will both have made an interesting point about the importance of the Net in political campaigning and saved a lot of trees.

Any lessons here? Well, as one researcher points out, we have now moved into a new phase of online politics, at least in Scandinavia. It is no longer enough to use the Web to look cool and future-friendly. It is about being where the voters are, and realizing that the Internet is a two-way medium, opening up for citizen participation as well as engaging in passionate discussion with voters. The Net is a great tool for political communication, but perhaps even better for political conversation.


[G] Head to Leafy Vermont to Attend the Online Marketing Boot Camp

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Google Analytics Blog: Head to Leafy Vermont to Attend the Online Marketing Boot Camp

There is no better time to visit Vermont than during Autumn. If you grew up in New England as I did, you might agree that this time of year stirs up the most exciting nostalgia, for the beauty of the Fall foliage and the feeling of summer ending. So, I couldn't be happier to recommend the the second Online Marketing Boot Camp in Burlington, Vermont for a few reasons, including promoting learning about web analytics and marketing, and giving you an excuse to visit Vermont this Fall season!

The Boot Camp, from November 12 through November 16, will sharpen analytics skills and help grow businesses with a curriculum intended to give attendees practical insight and techniques on how to more effectively market, analyze and optimize their websites. It is hosted by EpikOne, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, and Champlain College, at the new Courtyard Burlington Harbor, located on the waterfront of Burlington.

Classes will be taught by some pretty experienced folks with whom we love working, including Kristoffer Ewald, a consultant from The Milk in Denmark, whose class received rave reviews at the first Boot Camp. For this Boot Camp, Kristoffer will focus on discovering industry trends, doing competitive analysis and forecasting online growth. Daily 'Ask the Experts' sessions, a new addition to Boot Camp, will also give attendees the chance to interact one-on-one with the instructors.

Other Boot Camp topics and tools will include: Online Business Strategies, Digital Advertising & Google AdWords, Web Metrics & Google Analytics, Usability, Testing & Website Optimizer & Web Tools, Trends & Social Media.

To learn more, visit


[G] Five new API features

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Five new API features

Today we launched an "Advanced Settings" section in the "Integration" tab under settings. This section lets Level 2 integrated merchants opt in to take advantage of new features without affecting any other part of their Checkout integration. Right now there are five specific features that merchants can opt in to use:

* Name Parsing: Provides the first name, last name, and full name of the buyer and order recipient in separate fields new order notifications.
* Google Promo Notification: If an order is placed under a Google promotion, you can require new order notifications, charge amount notifications, and refund amount notifications to include the promotion amount.
* Ship-to Phone: Returns the buyer's ship-to phone number in new order notifications.
* Billing Phone: Returns the buyer's billing phone number in new order notifications.
* Improved Notifications: Prevents a merchant from improperly acknowledging a new order notification by requiring their acknowledgment to specify the serial number of the notification.


Monday, October 29, 2007

[G] Code changes to prepare Gmail for the future

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Official Gmail Blog: Code changes to prepare Gmail for the future

When Gmail launched in 2004, the web was a very different place: people's expectations were different, browser capabilities were less advanced, and certain terms that are now commonplace on software engineer résumés hadn't even been coined yet.

In the past three and a half years we have launched a number of cool features: deep chat integration, voice mail, Google Docs integration, and most recently, free IMAP. During this time we've learned a lot about building large web applications and what happens when you push web browsers to their limits.

So recently the Gmail team has been working on a structural code change that we'll be rolling out to Firefox 2 and IE 7 users over the coming weeks (with other browsers to follow). You won't notice too many differences to start with, but we're using a new model that enables us to iterate faster and share components (we now use the same rich text editor as Groups and Page Creator, and the Contact Manager can be seen in several Google apps). A few other things you will notice are some new keyboard shortcuts and the ability to bookmark specific messages and email searches.

We have also been fanatical about speed. Even on a fast Internet connection, it can take a second to request and render a new web page, and when you read a lot of mail, these seconds can accumulate to hours waiting for email to load. We've spent a lot of time profiling all parts of the application, shaving milliseconds off wherever we can, and figuring out workarounds for some pretty deep-rooted issues with the current browser implementations. Some of the most common actions should be faster now. For instance, we prefetch messages in the current view, so when you open an email your browser doesn't have to talk to Google's server; it just displays the message. These techniques really shine on newer browsers and computers. Using an alpha version of Safari 3 on a MacBook, we're seeing sub-200ms times when opening messages—pretty quick.

One side effect of this change is that if you're using third-party Gmail extensions, they're likely to stop working. We've contacted a number of the developers behind some popular extensions and provided them with an opportunity to create fixes, so check back with them for updates. We're sorry that it may be a bit of a inconvenience, but we're trying to make this change as smooth as possible.

The team has a bunch more things in the works, so stay tuned.


[G] Get your news fix on your iGoogle page

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Google News Blog: Get your news fix on your iGoogle page

Lots of people love small, portable, sexy gadgets, and that's exactly what we've just created. We're not talking hardware, of course -- what we're introducing is the iGoogle News gadget.

The iGoogle News gadget shows your favorite Google News in a small-screen format, complete with news headlines, snippets, and thumbnails, grouped by news clusters. If you're really into a particular story, there are links to see the full text and related news in a cluster, or more stories in the same category.

It's easy to add the gadget to iGoogle so you can read daily news alongside your mail and other favorite feeds. It can also be displayed on partner sites, or even added on your own web pages using iGoogle syndication technology.

The iGoogle News gadget uses tabs to display different news sections separately in its own tabs, and you can customize the news sections you want to see. You can also create custom sections by entering query terms in the "edit settings tab" (the "+" tab). The gadget allows you to reorder tabs by dragging and dropping, just as you can do with gadgets on your iGoogle page.

You can also select the news editions you want to see and easily add multiple news gadgets to your iGoogle page. Customize each of them, and enjoy reading Google News from multiple countries at a glance. The new News gadget has been localized to 19 languages and supports 38 News editions (more coming). We've also added it to iGoogle as a default gadget on several domains. Add it to your existing iGoogle page.We hope you enjoy this gadget, and as always, we welcome your feedback.


[G] The story must go on...

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Inside AdSense: The story must go on...

We're excited about the enthusiasm we're seeing for the AdSense Story contest, so we've decided to extend the deadline until November 14th. We've received some great submissions, and we're still looking for more. It doesn't need to be a big Hollywood production, just a simple story from the heart about your own AdSense Story -- how has AdSense helped you? Feel free to review our announcement for more details on what to include in your video.

Oh, and did we mention that winning submissions will get some cool Google schwag? Send us your story today!


[G] It's not about the spam

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Official Google Blog: It's not about the spam

When Gmail's spam filters are working perfectly, no one talks to us anti-spam engineers. But as soon as something goes wrong, our users, our friends, and even our Google colleagues who use Gmail for their corporate mail are sure to tell us. That's just the way we like it. Spam is not something people should grow numb to and accept as a fact of life. We *want* people to complain. That's the only way things get better.

Due in large part to all the great feedback we get, things are better. We're keeping more spam out of your inbox than ever before, so more and more, you can use Gmail for things you enjoy without even realizing that the spam filter is there most of the time. It's not too different from driving a convertible down the freeway with the top down, with the wind blowing through your hair and no traffic jams to destroy the mood. Now, I'm not saying we're perfect, but the really good news is that it seems like spammers are finally starting to get discouraged. Attempts to spam Gmail users have been leveling off over the last year and more recently, even declining slightly. We need your help clicking on the "Report Spam" button, but through continuous improvement we are approaching the world we all want to live in.

As much as we don't want you to even think about spam, people are naturally curious and ask questions such as "where does spam come from?", "who buys the shoddy stuff spammers advertise?" and "how do you catch spam?" We're engineers, though, not forensic experts or economists, so while we can only speculate about the first two questions, we can talk authoritatively about the last one -- spam-catching. To that end, we've put together a video explaining how our spam filters work:

Now if we could only get a "Report Traffic" button in our cars ...


[G] Halloween Gadgets

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Inside Google Desktop: Halloween Gadgets

With October 31st looming, it's time to decorate your desktop with spooky gadgets. Here are three new ones you can try out.

Halloween Pumpkin
By Benjamin Schirmer
Create a custom jack-o'-lantern on your desktop. To change the look of your Halloween pumpkin just click the eyes, nose, or mouth. Beware: sometimes this pumpkin makes spooky noises!
Halloween CountDown Gadget
By Vishnu.S
If you can't wait until Halloween — and you don't have a child reminding you how very long it is until trick-or-treat time — you need this.
Spooky Clock
By Lahiru Lakmal Priyadarshana
Every day is Halloween when this clock is on your desktop. The pendulum swings back and forth, reminding you that the witching hour is never too far away...
You can find these and more at our holiday gadgets page. If you feel inspired to create your own holiday gadgets, visit our Developer Site and be sure to grab the Google Desktop SDK.

Happy Halloween from the Google Desktop Team!