Friday, May 8, 2009

[G] Run better experiments with the Mom test

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Official Google Website Optimizer Blog: Run better experiments with the Mom test

In Made to Stick, the authors warn us about the curse of knowledge. Simply stated, once we know something it's hard to imagine us not knowing something.

When looking at our websites, we know how they work. We know where to find the Add to Cart button. We know that we'll pick shipping options after we enter billing information. We know the answers to questions that visitors have on their minds, and it's very hard for us to put ourselves in their shoes.

So I'd like to introduce to you, the Mom Tests:

All mothers want what's best for their children, which is, of course, why we love our mothers. While some moms have taken to the Internet with fervor, not all of our mothers are blogging, facebooking, tweeting machines. Moms are always willing to lend a helping hand and give their advice. Here are two ways your mom can help you improve your website.

The Mom Usability Test
Ask Mom to complete a task on your page. You'll want to have her start like an actual visitor would. So, think about how visitors arrive to your page. You could look in Google Analytics at Top Entrance Pages and see how people get to them, or start with a Google search and go from there. Ask your mom to try to buy something on your page or sign up for more information. Ask her to think out loud if she has any questions. Don't try to help or tell her what she should be doing. Just watch and take notes.

The Mom A/B Test
When people test their pages, they often try to test very small changes. Minute changes, like the use of a semicolon or the use of Arial font versus Verdana font (see the difference?), often have no effect on conversions. One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that users make a decision to stay on a page or leave in less than 5 seconds. That means, any change you are testing needs to stand out within 5 seconds.

So where does Mom come in? Show your mom your A page and your B page and ask her what's different. If she struggles to spot the differences, your changes may not be big enough. As for which page will convert better, that's where testing with Website Optimizer comes in.

We hope the Mom Tests help you improve your website and bring you and your mother a little closer this weekend. Happy Mothers' Day to all the Moms out there.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Website Optimizer team

[G] Introducing WebDriver

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Google Open Source Blog: Introducing WebDriver

WebDriver is a clean, fast framework for automated testing of webapps. Why is it needed? And what problems does it solve that existing frameworks don't address?

For example, Selenium, a popular and well established testing framework is a wonderful tool that provides a handy unified interface that works with a large number of browsers, and allows you to write your tests in almost every language you can imagine (from Java or C# through PHP to Erlang!). It was one of the first Open Source projects to bring browser-based testing to the masses, and because it's written in JavaScript it's possible to quickly add support for new browsers that might be released

Like every large project, it's not perfect. Selenium is written in JavaScript which causes a significant weakness: browsers impose a pretty strict security model on any JavaScript that they execute in order to protect a user from malicious scripts. Examples of where this security model makes testing harder are when trying to upload a file (IE prevents JavaScript from changing the value of an INPUT file element) and when trying to navigate between domains (because of the single host origin policy problem).

Additionally, being a mature product, the API for Selenium RC has grown over time, and as it has done so it has become harder to understand how best to use it. For example, it's not immediately obvious whether you should be using "type" instead of "typeKeys" to enter text into a form control. Although it's a question of aesthetics, some find the large API intimidating and difficult to navigate.

WebDriver takes a different approach to solve the same problem as Selenium. Rather than being a JavaScript application running within the browser, it uses whichever mechanism is most appropriate to control the browser. For Firefox, this means that WebDriver is implemented as an extension. For IE, WebDriver makes use of IE's Automation controls. By changing the mechanism used to control the browser, we can circumvent the restrictions placed on the browser by the JavaScript security model. In those cases where automation through the browser isn't enough, WebDriver can make use of facilities offered by the Operating System. For example, on Windows we simulate typing at the OS level, which means we are more closely modeling how the user interacts with the browser, and that we can type into "file" input elements.

With the benefit of hindsight, we have developed a cleaner, Object-based API for WebDriver, rather than follow Selenium's dictionary-based approach. A typical example using WebDriver in Java looks like this:

// Create an instance of WebDriver backed by Firefox
WebDriver driver = new FirefoxDriver();

// Now go to the Google home page

// Find the search box, and (ummm...) search for something
WebElement searchBox = driver.findElement("q"));

// And now display the title of the page
System.out.println("Title: " + driver.getTitle());

Looking at the two frameworks side-by-side, we found that the weaknesses of one are addressed by the strengths of the other. For example, whilst WebDriver's approach to supporting browsers requires a lot of work from the framework developers, Selenium can easily be extended. Conversely, Selenium always requires a real browser, yet WebDriver can make use of an implementation based on HtmlUnit which provides lightweight, super-fast browser emulation. Selenium has good support for many of the common situations you might want to test, but WebDriver's ability to step outside the JavaScript sandbox opens up some interesting possibilities.

These complementary capabilities explain why the two projects are merging: Selenium 2.0 will offer WebDriver's API alongside the traditional Selenium API, and we shall be merging the two implementations to offer a capable, flexible testing framework. One of the benefits of this approach is that there will be an implementation of WebDriver's cleaner APIs backed by the existing Selenium implementation. Although this won't solve the underlying limitations of Selenium's current JavaScript-based approach, it does mean that it becomes easier to test against a broader range of browsers. And the reverse is true; we'll also be emulating the existing Selenium APIs with WebDriver too. This means that teams can make the move to WebDriver's API (and Selenium 2) in a managed and considered way.

If you'd like to give WebDriver a try, it's as easy as downloading the zip files, unpacking them and putting the JARs on your CLASSPATH. For the Pythonistas out there, there's also a version of WebDriver for you, and a C# version is waiting in the wings. The project is hosted at, and, like any project on Google Code, is Open Source (we're using the Apache 2 license) If you need help getting started, the project's wiki contains useful guides, and the WebDriver group is friendly and helpful (something which makes me feel very happy).

So that's WebDriver: a clean, fast framework for automated testing of webapps. We hope you like it as much as we do!

by Simon Stewart, Engineering Productivity Team

[G] A Mom's Day menu

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Official Google Blog: A Mom's Day menu

When I was about three years old, my mom and I had a game. Mom would show me things around the house. "Look, Scotto, this is a picture," she said. "Can you eat it?" I asked. "No, honey," she said. "Look, Scotto, this is a flower." "Can you eat it?" I said.

And so the story went: With everything she pointed out, I asked if you could eat it. Now, I'm a chef here at Google. I feel lucky that I fell in love with food and cooking — if not, who knows what I would be having for lunch!

This Mother's Day, you could get your mom a bouquet of flowers, or new earrings, but, well, you can't eat those things. Plus, making a gift at home is a nice personal gesture that doesn't break the bank. With that in mind, some of the other Google chefs and I put together a brunch menu full of recipes designed to pamper moms on their special day. You can download all of them in this PDF, and I've also copied the most mouthwatering recipe below (sure, it's decadent, but isn't that the point?).

Molten Chocolate Cakes

5 oz chocolate, semisweet
5 oz butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Place chocolate and butter over a double boiler; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. In the meantime, whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large mixer. Slowly add the sugar, then the chocolate mixture and flour. Coat ¾ cup ramekins with butter, then pour the batter into the ramekins up to the rim. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven; run knife along edges of ramekin; invert onto a plate. Serve with vanilla whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. Makes about 6 cakes.

We hope your mom — and you — enjoy brunch this Sunday!

Posted by Scott Giambastiani, Executive Chef

[G] Calling all students: Google Photography Prize

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Google Photos Blog: Calling all students: Google Photography Prize

Posted by Louise Rigby, Associate Product Marketing Manager, iGoogle

We just launched the Google Photography Prize, a global competition for students to create new themes for iGoogle.

The contest aims to find talented student photographers and will give them unprecedented online and offline exposure: Winning submissions will be available for millions of Google users around the world to display on their personalised iGoogle homepages, and will also be part of a special exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The overall winner will also receive £5,000 ($7,500) and an invitation to spend a day with renowned photographer Martin Parr.

It may seem brave to unleash student art on our homepage, but given the amazing talent of student photographers today, our esteemed panel of judges, and the draw of being able to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery, we're expecting to see some great entries!

The Google Photography Prize is open to higher education students around the world, and runs until May 31. You can enter by submitting a series of five photographs at

The thirty-six top entries will be selected for the shortlist and made open to an online public vote on June 11. The top six vote-winners will then be flown to London for the opening night of an exhibition of their work at the Saatchi Gallery, and the ultimate winner will be decided by a panel of art critics and artists, including Idris Khan, Martin Parr, Michael Hoppen, Susanna Brown and Tim Marlow.

Millions of user are already adorning their iGoogle page with images, including original art created by Jeff Koons, Radiohead, Rolf Harris, Stella McCartney and Philippe Starck. We're excited to now be adding more photography to the mix, and we look forward to see how art will continue to develop online.

Good luck!

[G] Google Chrome ads on TV

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Official Google Blog: Google Chrome ads on TV

A couple of months ago, the Google Japan team produced a fun video to demonstrate how clean and simple our Google Chrome user interface is. After releasing this video on the web, we got lots of positive feedback and thoughtful comments. In order to keep that conversation going, we invited some of our creative friends to make a collection of short films celebrating our browser. We released Chrome Shorts last week on our YouTube channel.

At the same time, we talked to our Google TV Ads team to see how we could show the video that our Japan team developed to a wider audience in a measurable way. Using some of the results from our placement-targeted ads on the Google Content Network, we designed a Google TV Ads campaign which we hope will raise awareness of our browser, and also help us better understand how television can supplement our other online media campaigns.

So today, we’re pleased to announce that we're using Google TV Ads to run our Chrome ad on various television networks starting this weekend. We're excited to see how this test goes and what impact television might have on creating more awareness of Google Chrome.

Check out the video below if you haven’t already seen it, or wait and you might see it on TV while you’re channel surfing!

Posted by Mike Steib, Director, Google TV Ads, and Anna-Christina Douglas, Google Chrome team

[G] Clean energy's "Valley of Death"

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Google Public Policy Blog: Clean energy's "Valley of Death"

Posted by Dan Reicher, Director of Climate Change & Energy Initiatives

The so-called "Valley of Death" is a scary place. It's where so many promising clean energy technologies die because they can't attract the significant capital to move from pilot scale (the realm of the venture capital world) to full-scale operating projects (where banks will invest). Failing to bridge this gap has cost us serious progress on clean energy technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal, which in turn has stifled the creation of new green jobs.

Last week the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources discussed ways to bridge the Valley of Death. The Committee held a significant hearing that addressed a proposal to create a new federal agency to help finance higher-risk clean energy projects that will deploy breakthrough technologies. I testified last week and also last summer to the Committee in support of this idea.'s RE<C initiative is focused on creating renewable electricity, at utility-scale, that is cheaper than coal. The only way to achieve this goal is to move technologies from small pilot projects to full-scale commercial plants.

I'm pleased to note that last Friday the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, Senator Bingaman, and the top Republican on the Committee, Senator Murkowski, introduced legislation to assist clean energy technologies in securing sufficient funding to cross the Valley of Death. The bill was also introduced in the House by Congressmen Inslee and Dingell. The legislation would initially provide $10 billion in federal funding, which would leverage many times that in private finance for renewable, efficiency, and other clean energy projects deploying breakthrough technologies. We're throwing our strong support behind this bill, and we'll continue to work with others in clean energy finance, technology, and policy to advance efforts to build sorely-needed clean energy projects.

[G] The power of video

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Official Google Blog: The power of video

We recently announced the winners of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) Power Down for the Planet video contest. In March, we challenged you to create videos to educate, entertain, and inform others about the importance of energy efficient computing and you did not disappoint. The submissions made us laugh (a lot) and almost cry (okay, just a little). Not only are these videos really creative, but also they help promote a smarter, greener computing future.

The global grand prize, $5000 cash and laptops, went to a team from Southern California for their entry "Power Down: One Computer at a Time." Students from the 19 participating colleges and universities were also eligible to win the student grand prize. This award goes to a team from Jackson State University for their "Power Down the Planet" entry. They will take home $5,000, 2009 Specialized Globe Vienna Deluxe 1 bikes powered by Specialized, and software. To all the winners, congratulations!

Check out a playlist of some of our favorite video entries:

Posted by Alice Ryan, Green Rocket Scientist

[G] Who, What, Why... Where 2.0!

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Google LatLong: Who, What, Why... Where 2.0!

May is finally upon us and that can only mean it's time once again for the Where 2.0 Conference! The event will be held this year in San Jose from May 19-21. The geo team here at Google looks forward to this event each year for the chance it gives us to meet with the people that are helping the geoweb grow and evolve. Our very own Lior Ron and Steve Lee will be speaking about this topic in their keynote, and there are several Googlers running workshops and talks on topics ranging from how companies are using the Google Maps API to indigenous mapping.

We hope you have plans to attend but if you don't, we're hoping we can help get you out to this great geo conference. Where 2.0 organizers have given us 1 free pass for the event, a $1,690 value, and we'd like to pass it along to someone without a ticket that really wants to be there. If you aren't already planning on going, let us know why you'd like to: describe what about the event is intriguing to you and why do you want to attend. Do you have an interesting story that makes this event particularly relevant to you? Please send us your story with this form; we'll take a look at what gets submitted and select one person to receive this complimentary pass.

If you're already planning to be at the conference, be sure to stop by our booth to say hi!

Posted by Mike Pegg, Product Marketing Manager

[G] Google's approach to competition

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google's approach to competition

Posted by Adam Kovacevich, Senior Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs

As Google has grown, the company has naturally faced more scrutiny about our business principles and practices. We believe that Google promotes competition and openness online, but we haven't always done a good job telling our story.

That's why we have recently been meeting with policymakers, think tank representatives, academics, journalists, ad agencies, and trade associations -- in the U.S. and Europe -- explaining Google's six principles of competition and openness:

1. Help other businesses be more competitive.
2. Make it easy for users to change.
3. Open is better than closed.
4. Competition is just one click away.
5. Advertisers pay what a click is worth to them.
6. Advertisers have many choices in a dynamic market.

As part of this effort we recently gave a webinar for ad agencies in which we walked through these principles. Check it out if you have a chance, and let us know what you think.

[G] Seeing Red on YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Seeing Red on YouTube

Today is World Red Cross Day and the commemoration marks over 60 years of the Red Cross preparing communities for emergencies and providing disaster relief to those in need. Over the past few years, the organization has been using YouTube to help achieve these objectives.

For example, the British Red Cross posted this nine-video how-to series about first aid. The videos cover everything from how to perform CPR to how to treat a burn. Not to be outdone, the American Red Cross has just uploaded sixteen very pertinent videos all about swine flu, including information about how it spreads and how to prevent infection.

In addition, today the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will launch an ambitious new campaign, called "Our World. Your Move," which aims to raise awareness of today's most pressing humanitarian challenges and highlight the power of individuals to make a difference. Interested in taking part? This animated short can serve as your introduction:

Ramya Raghavan

YouTube Nonprofits & Activism


Thursday, May 7, 2009

[G] New Interface Thursdays: Meet the Networks tab

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Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursdays: Meet the Networks tab

In this edition of New Interface Thursdays we'll be talking about the Networks tab. The Networks tab replaces the Placements tab from the previous interface, and gives you more insight into where your ads are running. In the Networks tab, you can see your ads' performance across different networks like Google search, Search partners, and the Content Network.

When looking at how your Content Network ads perform, you'll see that the new interface divides Content Network statistics into two groups: automatic placements and managed placements.

Automatic placements are pages in the Content Network where your ads have been contextually targeted. Contextual targeting matches the themes in your keyword list to relevant page content on the sites in our network. For instance, if you have 'ski equipment' as a keyword in your ad group, Google might contextually target your ads to a page talking about the best online ski equipment deals.

Managed placements are sites or specific URLs that you've singled out. With managed placements you can set a specific bid for a site. If a site is performing very well for you and you want to increase your exposure, you might bid higher for that placement. On the other hand, if a site isn't very relevant to your offer, you might lower your bid or exclude the site.

When you add a site to your managed placements, we still use your keywords to find contextually matching pages. You can think of it like a Venn diagram:

Automatic Placements
Jumping back into the account, we can take a closer look at automatic placements. By clicking show details you'll see a table showing the sites on which your ads are running. If you've used the Placement Performance report in the previous interface this should look familiar to you. With the new interface you have this report right in your account.

You can see that each site's performance is broken out. The green "Added" badges appear next to the sites which you've already added to your managed placements.

From this table, you have a few actions you can take. You can add a site to your managed placements with a separate bid for that site. If you want to see a breakdown of your performance on individual URLs where your ads were shown, you can select a site and click Show URL report. Also if a site doesn't meet your advertising goals, you can exclude it from your ad group or campaign.

Managed Placements
Your managed placements are shown in a similar table:

Since you set specific bids for managed placements, this table has a Max CPC column. Like the rest of the new interface, you can make changes directly in the table. For example, if you want to change your bid for a placement, just click on the bid and enter a new one. As with your automatic placements, you can view a URL report to take a deeper look at where your ads are showing.

At the bottom of the Networks tab you'll find Exclusions. This area lists any placements that you've excluded to prevent your ads from running on them. You can exclude a placement at the ad group level or at the campaign level.

That's it for our tour of the Networks tab. You can always find more information in the Help Center and at the New Interface site

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew

[G] O BSDCanada!

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Google Open Source Blog: O BSDCanada!

BSDCan 2009, an annual BSD conference at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada will be held this year on May 8th and 9th, 2009. The Open Source Team's Leslie Hawthorn and Cat Allman will be there to mingle with the Open Source community and present a talk on Getting Started in Free and Open Source on May 8th at 11 AM local time. This talk is a fantastic introduction to the Open Source community for those who are new and want to get involved. In addition, Open Source veterans will discover insights into the concerns of newbies and learn ways to improve retention and make their projects more welcoming. By running projects such as Google Summer of Code™ and the Google Highly Open Participation™ Contest, Leslie and Cat have gathered a huge amount of experience working with Open Source newcomers, and they are excited to share their knowledge with the rest of the community.

This will mark Google's third year at BSDCan, with Brian 'Fitz' Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman speaking there in 2007 and Leslie presenting in 2008. If you are in the area, make sure to attend this year's talk, and feel free to say hello or introduce yourself afterward!

By Ellen Ko, Open Source Team

[G] Senator Dorgan Addresses Your Ideas About Solar Energy and "Vampire Devices"

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YouTube Blog: Senator Dorgan Addresses Your Ideas About Solar Energy and "Vampire Devices"

Last week on the Senate Hub, Senator of the Week Byron Dorgan (D-ND) asked for your ideas on energy policy, noting the fact that the Senate is currently in the process of drafting new energy legislation.

Using Google Moderator, you submitted a number of specific suggestions including installing solar panels on government buildings and addressing those terrifying "vampire devices" (appliances that sit idle continuously wasting electricity). In this video, Senator Dorgan responds to your top-rated suggestions:

If you'd like to continue the conversation with Senator Dorgan about energy policy, you can visit his YouTube channel and post a comment or a video response.


Ramya Raghavan

YouTube News & Politics

[G] Strengthening a worldwide community with Google Friend Connect

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Official Google Blog: Strengthening a worldwide community with Google Friend Connect

Site owners often tell us that to build strong communities on the web, they have to be a jack-of-all-trades. With Google Friend Connect, we want to empower any website to awaken their community, even if the site owner doesn't have the technical background or the time to build social features from scratch.

Today we're launching an enhanced comments gadget. With this gadget, visitors from all over the world can leave messages in their native tongue, and other viewers will be able to instantly translate these comments into the language of their choice. For websites like Earth Hour, where people from many countries are working together to conserve energy, this comments gadget offers users a new way to engage in more meaningful discussions, regardless of what language they speak. Watch the video below to learn more:

The comments gadget is just one way Friend Connect can help webmasters foster deeper interactions between site members. You may have seen that over the past few weeks we have added several new gadgets to the Friend Connect gallery, all with the goal of helping people interact with one another on the sites they enjoy. These gadgets include the event gadget for promoting an upcoming event and letting members indicate if they're attending, as well as two gadgets built by OpenSocial developers: the Polls gadget, which gives opinion polls a social twist, and the Get Answers gadget, which lets members ask questions to the community and answer questions posted by others.

To learn more about these gadgets, or to keep your eye out for future gadgets we will be rolling out for Friend Connect, please visit the Social Web Blog.

Posted by Mussie Shore, Product Manager, Google Friend Connect

[G] How to Use Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: How to Use Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics

Last year, Justin Cutroni of EpikOne published a four-part tutorial on how to use Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics. We've seen a lot of interest in this topic, so we thought we'd republish the first part of the series here on the Analytics blog.

Ecommerce Tracking Part 1: How it Works

This post is the first in a series of e-commerce transaction tracking with Google Analytics. Why is e-commerce tracking important? Well, transaction data is a vital piece of information when analyzing online business performance.

Sure, it’s great to measure things like conversion rate, but revenue is much more tangible to many business owners. Having the e-commerce data in your web analytics application makes it easier to perform analysis. Do you need to set up e-commerce tracking? No, but it sure helps. :)

The Big Pictures

E-commerce tracking is based on the same principal as standard pageview tracking. JavaScript code sends the data to a Google Analytic servers by requesting an invisible gif file. The big difference is that e-commerce data is sent rather than pageview data.

But how does Google Analytics get the e-commerce data? That’s the tricky part. You, the site owner, must create some type of code that inserts the transaction data into the GA JavaScript. Sounds tricky, huh? Well, its not that bad.

Step by Step: How it Works

Let’s break it down and walk through what actually happens.

  1. The visitor submits their transaction to your server.
  2. Your server receives the transaction data and processes the transaction. This may include a number of steps at the server level, such as sending a confirmation email, checking a credit card number, etc.
  3. After processing the transaction the server prepares to send the receipt page back to the visitor. While preparing the receipt page your server must extract some the transaction data and insert it into the Google Analytics JavaScript. This is the code that you must create.
  4. The receipt page is sent to the visitor’s browser.
  5. While the receipt page renders in the visitor’s browser the e-commerce data is sent to Google Analytics via special GA JavaScript.
  6. Here’s a basic diagram of the process. Again, the biggest challenge during implementation is adding code to your web server that inserts the transaction data, in the appropriate format, into the receipt page. I’ll cover the setup in part 2 of this series.

What Data can be Tracked?

Google Analytics collect two types of e-commerce data: transaction data and item data. Transaction data describes the overall transaction (transaction ID, total sale, tax, shipping, etc.) while item data describes the items purchased in the transaction (sku, description, category, etc.). All of this data eventually ends up in GA reports. Here’s a complete list of the data:

Transaction Data

  • Transaction ID: your internal transaction ID [required]
  • Affiliate or store name
  • Total
  • Tax
  • Shipping
  • City
  • State or region
  • Country

Item Data

  • Transaction ID: same as in transaction data [required]
  • SKU
  • Product name
  • Product category or product variation
  • Unit price [required]
  • Quantity [required]

A few notes about the data. First, the geo-location data is no longer used by Google Analytics. The new version of GA tries to identify where the buyer is located using an IP address lookup.

Also, you should avoid using any non-alpha numeric characters in the data. Especially in the numeric fields. Do not add a currency identifier (i.e. dollar sign) in the total, tax or shipping fields. this can cause problems with the data.

Continue reading parts 2-4 of this series on EpikOne's Blog, Analytics Talk

Posted by Sebastian Tonkin, Google Analytics

[G] Leave a comment, comentário, ou commentaire

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Social Web Blog: Leave a comment, comentário, ou commentaire

As you're browsing through the comments that others have left on your favorite sites, have you ever come across a comment written in a language you don't understand? (We've seen a few of them here on the Social Web Blog.) Today we're introducing a new feature for the Google Friend Connect comments gadget that will help to address this problem: translations.

Now, if you see a comment in a foreign language, click on "Translate" in the lower left corner of the gadget and select your language. All comments that aren't written in your language of choice will be translated and highlighted in yellow. If you want to revert back to the original text, simply select "No Translation" from the same menu.

For the World Wide Fund For Nature, this is a great addition to their Earth Hour website. This global campaign, supported by 4,000 cities in 88 different countries, involves millions of people from around the world helping to conserve energy. Now visitors to the website can leave comments in their native language and use the translation feature to engage in meaningful discussions with the rest of the community.

Watch the video below to learn more about the comments gadget:

If you already have the comments gadget on your site, you don't need to do anything. This feature will automatically be added to your gadget. If you want to add a comments gadget on your site, go to to get started. You can also learn more about this gadget and other Friend Connect features in the features gallery.

Post by Tony Scelfo, Software Engineer

[G] Creating YouTube Videos With Android Phones

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YouTube Blog: Creating YouTube Videos With Android Phones

Creating YouTube videos with your phone is simpler and faster than ever before. If you have a camera phone with video capture, post your video by sending an email or MMS to your unique YouTube email address (more details at And with the Android 1.5 release, it's even easier to create YouTube videos on Android-powered phones -- you can send them straight to your YouTube account by tapping the 'share' button and selecting YouTube. With the Android YouTube application you can also view your favorites and playlists, access your subscriptions, and share videos.

Sharing videos on YouTube is just one of many new features on Android 1.5. Check out our video to learn more:


David Stewart

Product Marketing

The YouTube Team

[G] The 2008 Founders' Letter

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Official Google Blog: The 2008 Founders' Letter

Posted by Sergey Brin, Co-founder & President, Technology

Every year our founders take turns writing a letter that is included in our annual report. We originally published the 2008 Founders' Letter on our Investor Relations site. Since today is the annual Stockholders' Meeting at our Mountain View headquarters, we wanted to make it more widely available. We welcome you to have a read, and you can also check out the webcast of the Stockholders' Meeting, beginning at 2 p.m. PT today. – Ed.


Since 2004, when Google began to have annual reports, Larry and I have taken turns writing an annual letter. I never imagined I would be writing one in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we have seen in decades. As I write this, search queries are reflecting economic hardship, the major market indexes are one half of what they were less than 18 months ago, and unemployment is at record levels.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about the future, because I believe scarcity breeds clarity: it focuses minds, forcing people to think creatively and rise to the challenge. While much smaller in scale than today's global collapse, the dot-com bust of 2000-2002 pushed Google and others in the industry to take some tough decisions — and we all emerged stronger as a result.

This new crisis punctuates the end of our first decade as a company, a decade that has brought great change to Google, the web and the Internet as a whole. As I reflect on this short time period, our accomplishments and our shortcomings, I am very excited about what the next ten years may bring.

But let me start a little farther back — in 1990, the very first web page was created at By late 1992, there were only 26 websites in the world so there was not much need for a search engine. When NCSA Mosaic (the first widely used web browser) came out in 1993, every new website that was created would get posted to its "What's New" page at a rate of about one a day: Just five years later, in 1998, web pages numbered in the tens of millions, and search became crucial. At this point, Google was a small research project at Stanford; later that year it became a tiny startup. The search index sat on a small number of disk drives enclosed within Lego-like blocks. Perhaps a few thousand people, mostly academics, used the service.

Fast-forward to today, the changes in scale are striking. The web itself has grown by about a factor of 10,000, as has our search index. The number of people who use Google's services every day is now in the hundreds of millions. More importantly, billions of people now have access to the Internet via computers and mobile phones. Like many other web companies, the vast majority of our services are available worldwide and free to users because they are supported by ads. So a child in an Internet cafe in a developing nation can use the same online tools as the wealthiest person in the world. I am proud of the small role Google has played in the democratization of information, but there is much more left to do.


Search remains at the very core of what we do at Google, just as it has been from our earliest days. As the scale has changed dramatically over the years, the presentation and quality of our search results have also undergone many changes since 1998. In the past year alone we have made 359 changes to our web search — nearly one per day. Some are not easy to spot, such as changes in ranking based on personalization (launched broadly in 2005) but they are important in getting the most relevant search results. Others are very easy to see and improve search efficiency in a very clear way, such as spelling correction, annotations, and suggestions.

While I am proud of what has been accomplished in search over the past decade, there are important areas in which I wish we had made more progress. Perfect search requires human-level artificial intelligence, which many of us believe is still quite distant. However, I think it will soon be possible to have a search engine that "understands" more of the queries and documents than we do today. Others claim to have accomplished this, and Google's systems have more smarts behind the curtains than may be apparent from the outside, but the field as a whole is still shy of where I would have expected it to be. Part of the reason is the dramatic growth of the web — for any particular query, it is likely there are many documents on the topic using the exact same vocabulary. And as the web grows, so does the breadth and depth of the curiosity of those searching. I expect our search engine to become much "smarter" in the coming decade.

So too will the interfaces by which users look for and receive information. While many things have changed, the basic structure of Google search results today is fairly similar to how it was ten years ago. This is partly because of the benefits of simplicity; in fact, the Google homepage has become increasingly simple over the years: But we are starting to see more significant changes in search interfaces. Today you can search from your cell phone by just speaking into it and Google Reader can suggest interesting blogs without any query at all. It is my expectation that in the next decade our searches and results will look very different than they do today.

One of the most striking changes that has happened in the past few years is that search results are no longer just web pages. They include images, videos, books, maps, and more. From the outset, we realized that to have comprehensive search we would have to venture beyond web pages. In 2001, we launched Google Image Search and via Google Groups we made available and searchable the most comprehensive archive of Usenet postings ever assembled (800 million messages dating back to 1981).

Just this past fall we expanded Image Search to include the LIFE Magazine photo archive. This is a collection of 10 million photos, more than 95 percent of which have never been seen before, and includes historical pictures such as the Skylab space station orbiting above Earth and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. Integrating images into search remains a challenge, primarily because we are so reliant on the surrounding text to gauge a picture's relevance. In the future, using enhanced computer vision technology, we hope to be able to understand what's depicted in the image itself.


Video is often thought of as an entertainment medium, but it is also a very important source of high-quality information. Some queries seem like natural choices to show video results, such as for sports and travel destinations. Yet videos are also great resources for topics such as computer hardware and software (I bought my last RAID based on a video review), scientific experiments, and education such as courses on quantum mechanics.

Google Video was first launched in 2005 as a search service for television content because TV close-captioning made search possible and user-generated video had yet to take off. But it subsequently evolved to a site where individuals and corporations alike could post their own videos. Today Google Video searches many different video hosting sites, the largest of which is YouTube, which we acquired in 2006.

Every minute, 15 hours worth of video are uploaded to YouTube — the equivalent of 86,000 new full length movies every week. YouTube channels now include world leaders (the President of the United States and prime ministers of Japan, the UK and Australia), royalty (the Queen of England and Queen Rania of Jordan), religious leaders (the Pope), and those seeking free expression (when Venezuelan broadcaster El Observador was shut down by the government, it started broadcasting on YouTube).

When it began, online video was associated with small fuzzy images. Today, many of our uploads are in HD quality (720 rows and greater) and can be streamed to computers, televisions, and mobile phones with increasing fidelity (thanks to improvements in video compression). In the future, vast libraries of movie-theater-quality video (4000+ columns) will be available instantly on any device.


Books are one of the greatest sources of information in the world and from the earliest days of Google we hoped to eventually incorporate them into our search corpus. Within a couple of years, Larry was experimenting with digitizing books using a jury-rigged contraption in our office. By 2003, we launched Google Print, now called Google Book Search. Today, we are able to search the full text of almost 10 million books. Moreover, in October we reached a landmark agreement with a broad class of authors and publishers, including the Authors' Guild and the Association of American Publishers. If approved by the Court, this deal will make millions of in-copyright, out-of-print books available for U.S. readers to search, preview, and buy online — something that has been simply unavailable to date. Many of these books are difficult, if not impossible, to find because they are not sold through bookstores or held on most library shelves; yet they make up the vast majority of books in existence. The agreement also provides other important public benefits, including increased access to users with disabilities, the creation of a non-profit registry to help others license these books, the creation of a corpus to promote basic research, and free access to full texts at a kiosk in every public library in the United States.


While digitizing all the world's books is an ambitious project, digitizing the world is even more challenging. Beginning with our acquisition of Keyhole (the basis of Google Earth) in October 2004, it has been our goal to provide high-quality information for geographic needs. By offering both Google Earth and Google Maps, we aim to provide a comprehensive world model encompassing all geographic information including imagery, topography, road, buildings, and annotations. Today we stitch together images from satellites, airplanes, cars, and user uploads, as well as collect important data, such as roads, from numerous different sources including governments, companies, and directly from users. After the launch of Google Map Maker in Pakistan, users mapped 25,000 kilometers of uncharted road in just two months.


We always believed that we could have an advertising system that would add value not only to our bottom line but also to the quality of our search result pages. Rather than relying on distracting flashy ads, we developed relevant, clearly marked text-based ads above and to the right of our search results. After a number of early experiments, the first self-service system known as AdWords launched in 2000 starting with 350 advertisers. While these ads yielded small amounts of money compared to banner ads at the time, as the dot-com bubble burst, this system became our life preserver. As we syndicated it to EarthLink and then AOL, it became an important source of revenue for other companies as well.

Today, AdWords has grown beyond just being a feature of Google. It is a vast ecosystem that provides valuable traffic and leads to hundreds of thousands of businesses: indeed in many ways it has helped democratize access to advertising, by creating an open marketplace where small business and start-ups can compete with well-established, well-funded companies. AdWords is also an important source of revenue for websites that create the content that we all search. Last year, AdSense (our publisher-facing program) generated more than $5 billion dollars of revenue for our many publishing partners.

Also in the last year we ventured further into other advertising formats with the acquisition of DoubleClick. This may seem at odds with the value we place on relevant text-based ads. However, we have found that richer ad formats have their place such as video ads within YouTube and dynamic ads on game websites. In fact, we also now serve video ads on television with our AdSense for TV product. Our goal is to match advertisers and publishers using the formats and mediums most appropriate to their goals and audience.

Despite the progress in our advertising systems and the growth of our base of advertisers, I believe there are significant improvements still to be made. While our ad system has powerful features, it is also complex, and can confuse many small and local advertisers whose products and services could be very useful to our users. Furthermore, the presentation formats of our advertisements are not the optimal way to peruse through large numbers of products. In the next decade, I hope we can more effectively incorporate commercial offerings from the tens of millions of businesses worldwide and present them to consumers when and where they are most useful.


Within a couple of years of our founding, a number of colleagues and I were starting to hit the limitations of our traditional email clients. Our mailboxes were too big for them to handle speedily and reliably. It was challenging or impossible to have email available and synchronized when switching between different computers and platforms. Furthermore, email access required VPN (virtual private networks) so everyone was always VPN'ing, thereby creating extra security risks. Searching mail was slow, awkward, and cumbersome.

By the end of 2001 we had a prototype of Gmail that was used internally. Like several existing services at the time, it was web-based. But unlike those services it was designed for power users with high volumes of email. While our initial focus was on internal usage, it soon became clear we had something of value for the whole world. When Gmail was launched externally, in 2004, other top webmail sites offered 2MB and 4MB mailboxes, less than the size of a single attachment I might find in a message today. Gmail offered 1 Gigabyte at launch, included full-text search, and a host of other features not previously found in webmail. Since then Gmail has continued to push the envelope of email systems, including functionality such as instant messaging, video-conferencing, and offline access (launched in Gmail Labs this past January). Today some Googlers have more than 25 gigabytes of email going back nearly 10 years that they can search through in seconds. By the time you read this, you should be able to receive emails written in French and read them in English.

The benefits of web-based services, also known as cloud computing, are clear. There is no installation. All data is stored safely in a data center (no worries if your hard drive crashes). It can be accessed anytime, anywhere there is a working web browser and Internet connection (and sometimes even if there is not one — see below).

Perhaps even more importantly, new forms of communication and collaboration become possible. I am writing this letter using Google Docs. There are several other people helping me edit it simultaneously. Moments ago I stepped away and worked on it on a laptop. Without having to hit save or manage any synchronization all the changes appeared in seconds on the desktop that I am back to using now. In fact, today I have worked on this document using three different operating systems and two different web browsers, all without any special software or complex logistics.

In addition to Gmail and Google Docs, the Google Apps suite of products now includes Spreadsheets, Calendar, Sites, and more. It is also now available to companies, universities, and other organizations. In fact, more than 1 million organizations use Google Apps today, including Genentech, the Washington D.C. city government, the University of Arizona, and Gothenburg University in Sweden.

Because tens of millions of consumers already use our products, it is easy for organizations — from businesses to non-profits — to adopt them. Very little training is required and the passionate Google users already in these organizations are usually excited to help those who need a hand. In many ways, Google Apps are even more powerful in a business or group than they are for individuals because Apps can change the way businesses operate and the speed at which they move. For example, with Google Apps Web Forms we innovated by addressing the key problem of distributed data collection, making it incredibly simple to collect survey data from within the enterprise — a critical feature for collecting internal feedback we use extensively when "dogfooding" all of our products.

There are a number of things we could improve about these web services. For example, since they have arisen from different groups and acquisitions, there is less uniformity across them than there should be. For example, they can have different sharing models and chat capabilities. We are working to shift all of our applications to a common infrastructure. I believe we will achieve this soon, creating greater uniformity and capability across all of them.


We have found the web-based service model to have significant advantages. But it also comes with its own set of challenges, primarily related to web browsers, which can be slow, unreliable, and unable to function offline. Rather than accept these shortcomings, we have sought to remedy them in a number of ways. We have contributed code and generated revenue for several existing web browsers like Mozilla Firefox, enabling them to invest more in their software. We have also developed extensions such as Google Gears, which allows a browser to function offline.

In the past couple of years, however, we decided that we wanted to make some substantial architectural changes to how web browsers work. For example, we felt that different tabs should be segregated into separate sandboxes so that one poorly functioning website does not take down the whole browser. We also felt that for us to continue to build great web services we needed much faster Javascript performance than current browsers offered.

To address these issues we have created a new browser, called Google Chrome. It has a multiprocess model and a very fast JavaScript engine we call V8. There are many other notable features, so I invite you to try it out for yourself. Chrome is not yet available on Mac and Linux so many of us, myself included, are not able to use it on a regular basis. If all goes well, this should be addressed later this year. Of course, this is just the start, and Chrome will continue to evolve. Furthermore, other web browsers have been spurred on by Chrome in areas such as JavaScript performance, making everyone better off.


We first created mobile search for Google back in 2000 and then we started to create progressively more tailored and complex mobile offerings. Today, the phone I carry in my pocket is more powerful than the desktop computer I used in 1998. It is possible that this year, more Internet-capable smartphones will ship than desktop PCs. In fact, your most "personal" computer, the one that you carry with you in your pocket, is the smartphone. Today, almost a third of all Google searches in Japan are coming from mobile devices — a leading indicator of where the rest of the world will soon be.

However, mobile software development has been challenging. There are different mobile platforms, customized differently to each device and carrier combination. Furthermore, deploying mobile applications can require separate business arrangements with individual carriers and manufacturers. While the rise of app stores from Apple, Nokia, RIM, Microsoft, and others as well as the adoption of HTML 5 on mobile platforms have helped, it is still very difficult to provide a service to the largest group of network-connected people in the world.

We acquired the startup Android in 2005 and set about the ambitious goal of creating a new mobile operating system that would allow open interoperation across carriers and manufacturers. Last year, after a lot of hard work, we released Android to the world. As it is open source, anyone is free to use it and modify it. We look forward to seeing how this open platform will spur greater innovation. Furthermore, Android allows for easy creation of applications which can be deployed on any Android device. To date, more than 1000 apps have been uploaded to the Android Market including Shop Savvy (which reads bar codes and then compares prices), our own Latitude, and Guitar Hero World Tour.


The past decade has seen tremendous changes in computing power amplified by the continued growth of Google's data centers. It has enabled the growth and processing of increasingly large data sets such as the web, the world's books, and video. This in turn has allowed problems once considered to be in the fantasy realm of artificial intelligence to come closer to reality.

Google Translate supports automatic machine translation between 1640 language pairs. This is made possible by large computer clusters and vast repositories of monolingual and multilingual texts: This technology also allows us to support translated search where the query gets translated to another language and the results get translated back.

While the earliest Google Voice Search ran as a crude demo in 2001, today our own speech recognition technology powers GOOG411, the voice search feature of the Google Mobile App, and Google Voice. It, too, takes advantage of large training sets and significant computing capability. Last year, PicasaWeb, our photo hosting site, released face recognition, bringing a technology that is on the cutting edge of computer science to a consumer web service.

Just a few months ago we released Google Flu Trends, a service that uses our logs data (without revealing personally identifiable information) to predict flu incidence weeks ahead of estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is amazing how an existing data set typically used for improving search quality can be brought to bear on a seemingly unrelated issue and can help to save lives. I believe this sort of approach can do even more — going beyond monitoring to inferring potential causes and cures of disease. This is just one example of how large data sets such as search logs coupled with powerful data mining can improve the world while safe guarding privacy.


Given the tremendous pace of technology, it is impossible to predict far into the future. However, I think the past decade tells us some things to expect in the next. Computers will be 100 times faster still and storage will be 100 times cheaper. Many of the problems that we call artificial intelligence today will become accepted as standard computational capabilities, including image processing, speech recognition, and natural language processing. New and amazing computational capabilities will be born that we cannot even imagine today.

While about half the people in the world are online today via computers and mobile phones, the Internet will reach billions more in the coming decade. I expect that by using simple yet powerful models of computing such as web services, everyone will be more productive. These tools enable individuals, small groups, and small businesses to accomplish tasks that only large corporations could achieve before, whether it is making and releasing a movie, marketing a product, or reporting on a war.

When I was a child, researching anything involved a long trip to the local library and good deal of luck that one of the books there would be about the subject of interest. I could not have imagined that today anyone would be able to research any topic in seconds. The dark clouds currently looming over the world economy are a hardship for us all, but by the time today's children grow up, this recession will be a footnote in history. Yet the technologies that we create between now and then will define their way of life.

[G] The bar-bet phenomenon: increasing diversity in mobile searches

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Official Google Research Blog: The bar-bet phenomenon: increasing diversity in mobile searches

Posted by Maryam Kamvar, Melanie Kellar, Rajan Patel and Ya Xu, Google Research

Historically, research suggests that web search on mobile phones has been limited when compared to the diverse set of queries which comprise computer-based search. Researchers attribute the homogeneous mobile search behavior in part to the phone's form factor and browsing capabilities. However, our new logs-based study indicates that high-end phones, like the iPhone, are changing the landscape of mobile search. We found that search from these phones has evolved not only to mimic computer web search patterns, but to exceed the expectations set by conventional web search in some cases.

We see iPhone searches mimicking computer-based search behavior in terms of query length (~3 words per query for computer and iPhone queries, as opposed to 2.5 words per query for conventional mobile queries) and query classification (notably the percentage of Adult and Entertainment searches have decreased on the iPhone relative to conventional mobile phones). But what is most surprising to us is that frequent searchers on iPhone surpass frequent searchers on computers in terms of the diversity of queries they issue. In other words, people are using high-end phones to search for a more diverse set of information needs than computers are used for; we jokingly refer to this as the "bar-bet" phenomenon -- or the "pub-quiz" phenomenon for those of you in the UK.

We devised a metric for quantifying the variability of a user’s search intentions across time. This variability metric, entro-percent, is a normalized entropy metric which compares the number of search tasks issued by a user to the number of categories those search tasks fall under. This user-variability for conventional mobile web search is much lower than for computer-based search, confirming the hypothesis that mobile web users query over a much less diverse set of topics. The surprising news is that iPhone users, on the other hand, had a higher variability than computer based users, indicating their information needs are more diverse! This shows that the challenges posed by a phone's form factor can be outweighed by its "always on, always in your pocket" benefits.

To understand the meaning of the entro-percent equation, read our full paper summarizing the findings of our logs-based study of search patterns on conventional mobile phones, iPhones and conventional computers and get all the juicy details.

[G] Using the stimulus to advance smarter energy use

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Google Public Policy Blog: Using the stimulus to advance smarter energy use

Posted by Michael Terrell, Program Manager,

(Cross-posted from the Official blog)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama in February, includes tens of billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding for clean energy. This investment gives our country an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild our energy system and make it cleaner and more efficient. It's also an opportunity to become "smarter" about the way we all use energy.

Getting smart about energy starts with empowering consumers and businesses with information and tools to make better energy choices. That's why we submitted comments yesterday with the Department of Energy, asking them to put consumers first as they develop one of the more promising elements of the ARRA -- a $4.5 billion grant program for "smart" grid investments. We also asked the DOE to ensure the program contributes to President Obama's goal of funding the installation of 40 million smart electricity meters in American homes. You can read our comments here.

The advent of smart meters, the Internet and a myriad of other information technologies means that our interaction with electricity can be dramatically redefined. Instead of receiving a monthly bill in the mail, for example, we can receive information on electricity use in real time; instead of turning on the furnace or the A/C when once you are home, we can automate these systems or even control them remotely. We can even aggregate energy savings from appliances and electronic equipment from thousands of homes to avoid the need to build new power plants.

Using the stimulus to invest in the electricity grid can help accelerate this transformation, while in the process creating jobs and helping to diversify our energy supply. Most importantly, these investments can help consumers and businesses save energy and money. We feel it's important for the country not to miss this opportunity.

[G] Building perspective and getting voted "Best Mid-Market Solution" at the Mid-sized Enterprise Summit

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Building perspective and getting voted "Best Mid-Market Solution" at the Mid-sized Enterprise Summit

I was among a team of Googlers who recently attended the Mid-sized Enterprise Summit in Miami, Florida. We enjoyed the sunshine, industry speakers, and above all the chance to talk with CIOs and IT leads from companies across a range of industries. Given the economy, the cost savings available through Google Apps gained a lot of interest.

But we probably got the most "oohs" and "aahs" when we demoed our collaboration apps (Google Docs, including data processing and spreadsheets, Google Sites, for easy web publishing, and Google Video, for secure video sharing). We're always satisfied when we see "the light go off" as newcomers to these products realize what they enable that just isn't available with traditional desktop apps.

Geoffrey Moore set the context for the conference, and indeed, for our message with Google Apps. The well-known author of Crossing the Chasm discussed how the internet has changed the way we can do business. He encouraged audience members to rethink work that doesn't provide any strategic business differentiation for companies – email administration, software upgrade management, things like that. Instead, he emphasized that IT's unique opportunity to help their companies fuel innovation and gain productivity by "investing in the core business to amplify differentiation." According to Moore, this differentiation, and the innovation it enables, is a key lever for doing well during a downtown.

In one of our breakout sessions, we shared one example of how a business might invest in its core by showing resource site built by Home Care Assistance (HCA), an internationally-franchised provider of in-home caregivers. Using Google Sites, HCA created a series of pages that help new franchisees come on board with the information they need to become effective representatives of the HCA brand and philosophy.

HCA's online resource center consolidates knowledge
and spreads best practices.

Instead of spending time getting new offices set up on standalone technology – servers, local IT teams, things like that – HCA corporate has leveraged the power of cloud computing, using Google Apps, to focus its effort on sharing business strategies, techniques for recruiting and screening of caregivers, and refining leading-edge online marketing techniques. Home Care Assistance has not only consolidated its knowledge into this secure intranet but also provided the means for its field offices to share best practices with eachother – blogging about how best to optimize an AdWords budget, for example. This type of collaboration would be resource-intensive, or maybe even impossible, with a static-intranet model where IT would push information out to end users. Home Care Assistance hasaccelerated productivity with this approach and has also fostered wider collaboration amongst its field offices. Using Google Apps, Home Care Assistance has grown 15-fold in less than four years, and has recently expanded into Canada (giving the firm even more ways to integrate Google products!).

HCA makes it easy for people to find office locations
by listing them in a Google Docs spreadsheet and inserting a
Google Maps Gadget into a Google Site.

In another session, we asked people to go hands-on to demonstrate the easy productivity available with Google Apps. Using the forms that are built in to Google Spreadsheets, we captured input from the audience in a survey covering things like the how they communicate with users, responses to presentations, and input on topics and content. This let us show easy, visual summaries of information, displaying answers in charts available to audience members as easily as opening up a browser.

Mid-sized Enterprise Summit attendees filled out a form and saw
how the data filled a spreadsheet and displayed in a graph

We had a great time meeting with customers and understanding how Google Apps can help mid-sized businesses achieve their objectives. We were also grateful to conference participants for voting us the "Best Mid-Market Solution" in Services. The event organizers did a great job and we look forward to seeing you in the fall at the west coast version of the Summit.

Posted by Ben Salzman, Enterprise Sales Team

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