Friday, September 18, 2009

[G] Visiting Korea with Google Earth

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Google LatLong: Visiting Korea with Google Earth


One of my favorite places in Korea is the Insa-dong art district. Whenever I have guests I take them there to show off Korean traditional goods and galleries, but now I can show all my overseas friends and coworkers Insa-dong as well as many other tourist highlights around the country.

If you've dreamt of traveling to beautiful Korea, you can now turn on the "Korea Tourism" layer under the Travel and Tourism folder in the Google Earth Gallery to make a virtual visit or get a jump-start on planning your trip. The Korea Tourism Organization has worked to develop this Korea Tourism layer, which allows you to discover rich information about landmarks and attractions all over the country. You will see some of the country's highlights, which include temples, palaces, amusement parks, springs, shopping places, and much more. You can also enjoy virtual tours, create an itinerary, or turn on other interesting travel-related layers such as Panoramio, Wiki, or 360cities to help plan your trip. Be sure you don't miss out on Dongdaemun gate, 63 City, and Namsan Hanok Village.


Posted by Sun-Gi Hong, Google Korea
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/visiting-korea-with-google-earth.html

[G] New Analytics API Features including Event Tracking!

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Google Analytics Blog: New Analytics API Features including Event Tracking!

We are excited to be releasing new features -- features that have been prioritized based on feedback from you.

Event Tracking

Get Excited! Event Tracking, our number-one feature request, is available through the API. You can use event tracking to measure the number of user interactions with a website. For example, you can track:
  • the total number of times a white paper is downloaded
  • the length of time it takes to load a video
  • the number of validation errors users get when filling out a form
If you already have an integration with Google Analytics, Event Tracking is even more exciting. To illustrate, let's look at Sprout. Sprout's integration with Google Analytics helps customers track user interaction within their Sprout content. However, users currently must log into the Sprout interface to see billing and account management data, and then also log into Google Analytics to see how their own sprouts are performing. Now that event tracking is available through the API, companies like Sprout can pull the interaction metrics tracked by Google Analytics events and present them directly in clients' performance dashboards--effectively leveraging Google Analytics as a platform to power their analysis reports.

Ready to try out Event Tracking yourself? Check out the event tracking API docs, or fire up the Query Explorer tool.

Navigational data


The Google Analytics web interface provides a navigation report. Analysts use it to infer which links visitors click on, from one particular page to the next. Now that this data is available through the API, you can create new visualizations, such as custom site overlays, to see which links get the most clicks.

Increased filter length

The length of filter expressions has been increased to 128 characters. This enables developers to perform more complex queries with fewer requests to the API, saving bandwidth and quota.

There is a detailed list of all these changes in our public change log. We hope you find these features useful to your development and look forward to your comments and continued feedback. If you haven't done so already, please join our public Google group and let us know how you've been using the API.


Posted by Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-analytics-api-features-including.html

[G] This week in @googlemaps

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Google LatLong: This week in @googlemaps


Are you not (yet) one of the 19,000 people following @GoogleMaps on Twitter? Well, you won't have to miss out on all the fun -- although we do still hope you'll follow us if you're a fellow Twitterer! We're starting out a weekly recap of our 5 most popular tweets (based on re-tweets and link clicks) so you can catch up on some of the interesting tips, stories, updates and announcements that we've shared during the week, 140 characters at a time. To make things a little more fun, we'll also throw in a "wild card" that gives you a glimpse into life here on the Google Maps team or gives an idea of the types of things that entertain & interest us. Without further ado, here are this past week's top tweets:

  • Save your most recent 100 searches in Google Maps & take 'em wherever you like http://bit.ly/3SBsX

  • Details not quite right? In most countries, you can edit a location in Google Maps directly. Find out how http://bit.ly/mapedits

  • Some of our favorite Google Maps mashups to display your GPS tracks and discover trails in your area: http://bit.ly/w1zAK



  • Wild card: Friday Fun: Takin' over our lobbies (w creative use of ladders) one 12-foot maps poster at a time http://twitpic.com/hbdyj

Posted by Julie Zhou, Chief Maps Twitterer
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/this-week-in-googlemaps.html

[G] Discover Books and Magazines using Search Options

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Inside Google Books: Discover Books and Magazines using Search Options

Posted by Matthew Gray, Grant Dasher, and Garrett Rooney, Google Books Software Engineers

Earlier this year, we introduced the Search Options panel in web search, making it easier to perform queries that limit results to a particular type of content- such as videos, forums, and reviews. We are now making it even easier to find books and magazines by making all of the content on Google Books searchable using the Search Options panel.

This will provide easier access to books and magazines by letting you slice and dice your results with certain characteristics. For example, you can now search for only books or magazines or for only content that you can preview in Google Books.



Try this yourself when you search the web using Google by clicking "Show options..." and selecting "Books".

Please note that this is currently only available in the United States, but we look forward to making this available elsewhere in the future.
URL: http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/09/discover-books-and-magazines-using.html

[G] Our complete letter to the FCC regarding Google Voice for iPhone

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Google Public Policy Blog: Our complete letter to the FCC regarding Google Voice for iPhone

Posted by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel

Back in July, the FCC sent letters to Apple, AT&T, and Google asking about the rejection of the Google Voice for iPhone app.

When we submitted our letter on August 21, we asked the FCC to redact certain portions that involved sensitive commercial conversations between two companies -- namely, a description of e-mails, telephone conversations, and in-person meetings between executives at Google and Apple.

Shortly afterward, several individuals and organizations submitted Freedom of Information Act requests with the FCC seeking access to this information. While we could have asked the FCC to oppose those requests, in light of Apple's decision to make its own letter fully public and in the interest of transparency, we decided to drop our request for confidentiality. Today the FCC posted the full content of our letter to their website (PDF).

We continue to work with Apple and others to bring users the best mobile Google experience possible.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/our-complete-letter-to-fcc-regarding.html

[G] Announcing our Small Business Toolkit

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Google Public Policy Blog: Announcing our Small Business Toolkit

Posted by Seth Webb, Senior Policy Manager

It's no secret that Google started out as a small business operating out of a Silicon Valley garage. We've consistently supported small business growth because we understand that our success depends on the success of our small business partners. With that in mind, earlier this year we launched the Small Business Network to help small businesses track legislation that might affect their growth.

Today, we're pleased to announce that we've redesigned our Small Business Network website to serve as a product toolkit in addition to a policy monitor. Entrepreneurs will be able to learn about products that help them run their businesses more efficiently and exchange ideas and best practices with other entrepreneurs, all while keeping up with legislation pending in federal and state governments that could affect their bottom line.

Over the next few months, we'll also be traveling the country, bringing free interactive workshops -- or as we call them, "Small Business 101s" -- to local businesses across America. These workshops are intended to help entrepreneurs become more familiar with online tools proven to help them succeed. Our next event is on September 22, 2009 at our Pittsburgh office. If you're in the area and would like to join us, please sign up here.

We're working to come up with products, services and programs that will help small businesses start up, stay up, and grow, because it's obvious that small business is the backbone of the economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses have generated more then 64 percent of the new jobs created over the last 15 years. Today, small businesses also pay 44 percent of the total payroll in the United States and hire 40 percent of the high-tech workers in this country -- like scientists, engineers and computer programmers.

As our country recovers from the recession, it's important to remember that many Americans will continue to face a long and difficult road as they struggle to pay bills or find work over the next several months. Enabling and promoting small business growth is a vital part of the solution.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/announcing-our-small-business-toolkit.html

Thursday, September 17, 2009

[G] Bringing more buyers to AdSense through the DoubleClick Ad Exchange

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Inside AdSense: Bringing more buyers to AdSense through the DoubleClick Ad Exchange

We recently announced that AdSense would start allowing Google-certified ad networks to bid for your display ad space in order to help you find new ways to generate revenue. You may have seen today's post by Neal Mohan on the Official Google Blog announcing the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and we'd like to take a moment to let you know how these two announcements fit together.

The Google-certified ad network capability is powered by the DoubleClick Ad Exchange that we announced today. Certified ad networks are Ad Exchange participants who have gone through an additional certification process in order to be able to to bid for your ad space through AdSense. We call this feature "yield management", because it offers you the most revenue for each ad that shows on your site in real time, regardless of whether it's Google or another certified party who can offer you the highest bid.

You don't need to change any of your account settings to start allowing these ads to compete. Also, you can continue to use the Ad Review Center to control which certified ad networks can appear on your site.

Opening AdSense to certified Ad Exchange participants means that more advertisers will be able to bid on your ad space. We believe this will ultimately help you earn more revenue for your sites.

Posted by Sean Harvey, Business Product Manager, and Scott Spencer, Group Product Manager
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/09/bringing-more-buyers-to-adsense-through.html

[G] The DoubleClick Ad Exchange: growing the display advertising pie for everyone

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Official Google Blog: The DoubleClick Ad Exchange: growing the display advertising pie for everyone

Hundreds of thousands of advertisers use search advertising — short, highly relevant text ads alongside search results on Google and other search engines — to grow their businesses. Thanks to a decade of innovation, search advertising is an open platform that allows businesses to easily connect with customers.

As you browse the web today, you'll also see "display advertising," such as videos, images and interactive ads. Like search ads, these connect users with products, services and ideas that interest them. For advertisers, display ads are vital in boosting awareness and sales. For websites and online publishers, they help fund investments in online content and the web services that we all use.

But with a multitude of display ad formats, and thousands of websites, it often takes thousands of hours for advertisers to plan and manage their display ad campaigns. With this complexity, lots of advertisers today just don't bother, or don't invest as much as they would like.

On the other side of the equation, some publishers are left with up to 80% of their ad space unsold. It’s like airlines flying with their planes mostly empty. And for the ad space that they do sell, publishers also have to deal with the complexity of managing thousands of advertisers and campaigns.

We believe that a better system built on better technology can help grow the display advertising pie and benefit everyone.

Three principles underpin our approach to the display advertising field:

1. Simplify the system for buying and selling display ads: For example, our DoubleClick ad serving products help advertisers and publishers manage campaigns and ad formats across thousands of websites and from thousands of advertisers.

2. Deliver better performance that advertisers and agencies can measure: We're building a host of new features to help advertisers to run display ad campaigns across the Google Content Network (comprising hundreds of thousands of AdSense partner sites) and on YouTube. We're also developing better measurement and reporting technology so they can figure out what's working and what's not.

3. Open up the ecosystem: We want to democratize access to display advertising and make it accessible and open, like search advertising. We recently launched the Display Ad Builder to help businesses easily set up and run display ad campaigns. 80% of advertisers who use that product have never run a display ad campaign before.

We've been working hard to put these principles into practice, and today we're excited to announce the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange, a step towards creating a more open display advertising ecosystem for everyone. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that helps large online publishers on one side; and ad networks and agency networks on the other, buy and sell display advertising space.

These publishers and ad networks manage and represent large volumes of ads and ad space from lots of advertisers and websites. By bringing them together in an open marketplace in which prices are set in a real-time auction, the Ad Exchange enables display ads and ad space to be allocated much more efficiently. This improves returns for advertisers and enables publishers to get the most value out of their online content.

An explanation of the Ad Exchange is here (PDF). You can read in more detail about the features of the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange on the DoubleClick blog.

AdWords advertisers will be able to run ads on sites in the Ad Exchange, using their existing AdWords interface. This means more high quality sites for AdWords advertisers to run display ads on. Similarly, our AdSense publishers will benefit from more high-quality display advertisers coming through the Ad Exchange. You can read more about these benefits on the AdWords Blog and the AdSense Blog.

To find out more about our overall display advertising vision and the many services and features we've been investing in across the Google Content Network, YouTube and DoubleClick, check out the video below:



We believe that growing the display advertising pie for everyone will greatly enhance the web experience for advertisers, publishers, and ultimately users. The DoubleClick Ad Exchange will help create a more open marketplace and is a major step towards that vision.

Posted by Neal Mohan, Vice President, Product Management
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/doubleclick-ad-exchange-growing-display.html

[G] Announcing the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange

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Inside AdWords: Announcing the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange

You may have seen our post on the Official Google Blog, announcing the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace to buy and sell display advertising space.

The "buyers" in the Ad Exchange are typically ad networks and agency-run networks with their own ad serving and optimization technologies, while the "sellers" are large publishers.

We're excited about what the launch of the Ad Exchange means for you, our advertisers. Ad Exchange sites will now be available for you to advertise on, as part of the Google Content Network, through your AdWords account. These sites are made available to you when Ad Exchange publishers choose to allow AdWords advertisers to compete for their inventory, and as long as that inventory meets all AdSense policy requirements.

So when you advertise on the Google Content Network, your ads will now be eligible to run across additional high-quality placements on those Ad Exchange sites, in addition to the hundreds and thousands of placements your ads can run on in the Google Content Network.

These placements will appear like any other Content Network placement in your AdWords reports. Like all Content Network placements, you can use the Placement Performance Report to see where your ads ran, which placements performed best, and act on that information by increasing or decreasing bids based on each placement's performance. On occasion, an Ad Exchange site may choose to remain anonymous, in which case, the site will appear in your reports with an anonymized label like "123456.anonymous.google." You can choose to exclude this placement, just like you can exclude any placement in the Content Network, if you see it's not meeting your performance goals.

You can still use all the AdWords targeting, bidding, formats, reporting, and controls for the Content Network that you're already familiar with. This just means that there will be more high-quality sites that you can access. As always, sites must meet the same quality requirements that we apply to all sites in the Google Content Network. Also, this change does not affect your search campaigns.

You can learn more about how the DoubleClick Ad Exchange can benefit you in the AdWords Help Center.

If you're not currently using the Google Content Network, you can learn more about how to get started here. If you're using the Content Network but have never tried running display ad formats, you might check out our Display Ad Builder tool, which can help you create new display ads in minutes.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/09/announcing-new-doubleclick-ad-exchange.html

[G] Spreading the word about Local Business Center

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Google LatLong: Spreading the word about Local Business Center


Last week I was in Anaheim, CA as a new partner with Sysco's iCare program, helping restaurant owners claim their Google business listings with Local Business Center. One interaction that really stuck out in my mind was with Geof Gaines who owns Coffee Depot - the self-described largest coffee house in the world - in Riverside, CA.The hours in his unclaimed business listing were incorrect, and he wanted to add videos to show off the musical acts that perform at his shop. After he verified his listing by phone, he got access to Coffee Depot's dashboard and was immediately able to see that in mid-July, the number of people who found his listing jumped dramatically and has been steadily high ever since. He thought back and realized that the spike happened at the same time that a local paper had written about his business. Now he's planning to closely monitor his listing's dashboard to see how various marketing and publicity tactics perform.


We want a lot more businesses to be able to have this "Aha!" moment, getting insights on data that they could never see before. So, building upon our Favorite Places celebration of local businesses back in June, we're launching new efforts to make sure that business owners know about Local Business Center, and that users know how to take full advantage of the statistics in their dashboard.

First, all Local Business Center users in the U.S. who opted into receiving newsletters will now receive a monthly email report on how their business listings performed on Google in the previous month, including how many times the listing was seen, how many people clicked to the business' website, and more.

We'll also provide tips for optimizing business listings, such as advice on adding photos, uploading videos, and creating coupons (coming up in the next newsletter!). We'll also highlight successful businesses of the month and let businesses know about other Google products and offers that can help grow their business. You can find August's newsletter here, but make sure you're on the list to automatically receive future installments by opting in to newsletters in your account. Once you sign up, watch for the latest newsletter with your own customized business stats and all sorts of tips to be arriving soon.


Second, with lots of positive feedback on our Local Business Center introduction video, we decided to make a 30 second version to air in places where business owners are looking. We launched it earlier this week on television with Google TV Ads, and on various websites across Google's content network. In the video, you'll hear an overview of all that the Local Business Center has to offer, directly from Carter Maslan, our Director of Product Management for Local Search. So keep your eye out for the video (and pass it along to any business owners you know!).



Businesses can claim their listing and get started at google.com/lbc. It's been great to get to talk to people like Geof and other business owners, and to hear their feedback. If you have any interesting ideas for other types of outreach or partnerships, let us know.

Posted by Ryan Hayward, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/spreading-word-about-local-business.html

[G] Highlighting the diversity of content in Google News

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Google News Blog: Highlighting the diversity of content in Google News

Posted by Rawan Hakeem, Google News Online Team

As you may know, we've always included some blogs from news organizations in Google News. However, we've heard from some of our users that the way we displayed these blogs in Google News was not very clear. To address this, we're now visibly marking articles published on a news blog with a "(blog)" label attached to the publication's name.

The same sources that were there before will still be available, and nothing will change in our rankings to impact where or how often they appear in Google News. We're making this change to ensure a high quality experience for our users and help them find these types of articles.

Here's an example to illustrate our change: this article from the blog section of the New York Times is now displayed under the name [New York Times (blog)].

If we crawl a blog-formatted site, all of the blog's articles should be assigned the "(blog)" tag. If you notice sites that are labeled incorrectly, please let us know.
URL: http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/highlighting-diversity-of-content-in.html

[G] Release Notes: 9/17/09

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YouTube Blog: Release Notes: 9/17/09

We're back with a rundown of the new features and changes that went live recently:

Friend suggestions: As mentioned in a previous post, we've started the first phase of the "find your friends" project with a module on the homepage that makes friend suggestions based on the email addresses of people with whom you've shared videos on YouTube in the past. (Suggestions based on your Gmail address book will come soon.) Recommendations will be limited to people who have the "let someone find my channel if they have my email address" flag set.

Activity subscriptions: To this point, subscribing to someone meant never missing any of their uploads. But now, any new subscription you make will notify you of all public actions that user performs (uploads, favorites, ratings, comments, etc) in your Recent Activity module on the homepage. This should make it a lot easier to find cool videos: just see which videos your friends and other curators choose to interact with. (We've been calling this project "subtivity" internally.)

Trending Topics:
When there is a spike in searches on a given topic, we are beginning to tease that out on our browse pages to help you see what the world is watching on any given day. You might see the queries appear in a "Trending Topic" spotlight on that category's browse page or at the bottom of the page. We're testing how this performs and if it does well, we'll find a permanent home for it on the browse page and potentially more broadly on YouTube.

Sticky HQ:
When you switch to view a video in high quality and lean back to enjoy the wide player experience, having to lean forward again to switch the experience back on, video after video, can be a real chore. Moving forward, your choice is "sticky," meaning that when you "go wide" it will persist across your session. We're looking to make more of your video quality choices simpler and persistent so we'll be watching this one closely.

Effortless "More Comments":
Replacing the page-based system, we will now have a "Show More Comments" link at the bottom of comments that, when clicked, quickly appends 10 more comments to the end of the list.

New Discovery Features in Insight:
We've released three new features in our analytics tool that should give you more sophisticated ways of using Insight so you can better serve and understand your audience. Now you can access a "discovery over time" graph that combines data about your views with where those views came from; a "views from mobile" section where you can see which of your video's views came from mobile phones or platforms that use our APIs; and "views from subscribers" where you can more deeply understand how the homepage subscriptions module, the subscriptions page, and subscription email drive views of your videos. Full post in the Biz Blog.

Resume where you left off:
Let's say you're watching an epic (read: longer than 20 minutes) video, and you get distracted and click away. The next time you return to the video, it will resume where you left off watching, assuming you've watched more than one minute of the video and there are more than three minutes left.

Subscriptions comes to Shows, Movie Trailers:
Subscribe to your favorite shows on YouTube to never miss a new episode. Find the show you want to watch, go to its About page, click Subscribe, and episodes that hit your inbox will indicate the name of the show (as opposed to the name of the channel or provider). In addition, you can also subscribe to our movie trailers page to never miss any of these film promos.

Poster art in Movies:
Move over, thumbnails! Films in our movies section can now display vertical poster art if the partner provides it.

Best, The YouTube Team


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/5_vflC_Eifg/release-notes-91709.html

[G] Show your face!

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Blogger Buzz: Show your face!

by Lu Chen, Blogger Summer Intern (Philadelphia, PA)

Last October we launched a comments feature that let you embed comments and the commenting form below your blog posts.

Today we have extended embedded comments to display profile images next to the comments that your visitors write. Though profile images have been available with the other commenting options, we are happy to bring them to embedded comments as part of the Blogger Birthday feature series.



We've also made it much easier to upload a profile photo when you leave a comment on a Blogger blog. From the comment preview, click "Add photo" to upload a photo to your Blogger profile. The next time you comment on a Blogger blog, your profile photo will be displayed next to your comment.



To enable or disable profile images in your blog's comments, go to Settings | Comments.

Cheers to photo-filled comments!

This is one of many features announced as part of Blogger's 10th birthday. Happy Birthday!
URL: http://buzz.blogger.com/2009/09/show-your-face.html

[G] Endless Summer in Atlanta

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Google Open Source Blog: Endless Summer in Atlanta

Celebrating Software Free Day at Atlanta Linux Fest? Should you happen to find yourself in Georgia's capital this Saturday, please stop in hear our very own Ellen Ko deliver a talk on Endless Summer: Create Your Own Program Based on Google Summer of Code™. Ellen will be covering topics from marketing to motivating a developer community, with a special emphasis on lessons she's personally learned during her first year as the program's coordinator. You can also get your questions about the program answered and meet up with fellow Google Summer of Code participants during an evening Birds of a Feather Session. We hope to see you there!

By Leslie Hawthorn, Open Source Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/09/endless-summer-in-atlanta.html

[G] New Video: What is the Analytics API?

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Google Analytics Blog: New Video: What is the Analytics API?



I spent a day in Irvine, California interviewing some of the software engineers who built the Google Analytics API, starting with Jacob Matthews, the tech lead behind the API. If you haven't read any of our API documentation yet but you have been wondering what the Google Analytics API is all about, we put together a couple of videos where we hear about the API from the people who built it. Here is the first one where we keep it high level and ask Jason, "What is the Google Analytics API?"

Enjoy!

Posted by Nick Mihailovski, The Google Analytics API Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-video-what-is-analytics-api.html

[G] Australian and New Zealand publishers: Register for an upcoming webinar

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Inside AdSense: Australian and New Zealand publishers: Register for an upcoming webinar

If you've ever argued over where the pavlova was first invented and are currently enjoying the first signs of spring, the Australia and New Zealand AdSense team is holding a webinar specifically for you! We'll be presenting our techniques for improving your AdSense for content performance, as well as handy tips on making your AdSense implementation more user-friendly.

We'll be running two free sessions that you can choose between; both are exactly the same and will run for approximately one hour. Register for the one you'd like to attend by visiting one of the links below -- even if you're not located in Australia or New Zealand, you're still welcome to register!
Once you've registered, you'll receive an email from messenger@webex.com to confirm your time and give you instructions on how to attend the webinar. We recommend that you register in advance.

If you're new to webinars (or web seminars), they're online meetings that you can attend using any computer with an internet connection and speakers or a headset. This Help Center entry will provide further details about what you'll need to participate. You'll also have the chance to ask questions based on the presentation through the interactive chat panel. Here are a few more details about next week's webinars.
  • Presenters:
    • Victoria, Mel, and Disha from the Sydney-based AdSense Team
  • Content:
    • Introduction - The Google Australia & New Zealand AdSense Team
    • Google AdSense – AdSense for content optimisation
    • Ad Formats – Opting in to image and text
    • Placement – Position and size
    • Design – Colours and borders
    • Google Custom Search Engine - Best practices
    • Working with Google - AdSense account essentials
  • We'll also be showcasing some real-life examples of how other publishers have optimised their AdSense implementation.
We hope you can make one of the sessions, and we look forward to sharing our best AdSense optimisation techniques with you.

Posted by Mel-Ann Chan - AdSense Optimisation Team, Australia & New Zealand
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/09/australian-and-new-zealand-publishers.html

[G] Discover new places with related maps

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Google LatLong: Discover new places with related maps


Now that I've lived in San Francisco for almost a year, I've hit most of the big tourist attractions, but still don't quite feel like a local. There are still plenty of neighborhoods I've yet to explore, a list of restaurants I'm still dying to try out, and a whole lot of scenic views I haven't discovered. I've been using Google Maps from the day I moved here to get the lay of the land, find my way around, and master public transportation. Now that I'm a little better oriented, I've started figuring out different ways that Google Maps can help me explore.

I've found that searching for user-created maps can be a great way to get local flavor. When I do a regular search for "ice cream," I'll get a list of ice cream places in the city. But, when I click Show search options and then select "Related maps," I can find user-created maps showcasing their own favorite ice cream spots, complete with reviews and flavor recommendations. Doing a "Related maps" search for "scenic views" returned maps showing city spots with awesome views that I never knew existed. It's a great way to create your own customized city tour, taking advantage of local knowledge and user recommendations.

And, if a user has created a map that you particularly like, click their username to check out their Maps profile. There, you can find out if they've created any other maps you might be interested in. You can also share your recommended places with the world by creating a public My Map, that will show up in other users' search results. To learn more about My Maps, visit the Google Maps User Guide.

Posted by Sarah Gordon, Tips Guru
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/discover-new-places-with-related-maps.html

[G] Transaction fee information now available in the Google Checkout API

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Transaction fee information now available in the Google Checkout API

Many merchants have requested a way to receive information about transaction fees through Google Checkout API notifications, and we're pleased to announce that this feature is now available. Merchants who have implemented the Notification API, Notification History API, or Polling API can now indicate that they would like to receive information about transaction fees in Google Checkout notifications.

To enable this feature in your Google Checkout merchant account, go to the Settings tab, select 'Integration', and expand the 'Advanced settings' section. Then, check the box next to 'Notifications must include information about transaction fees' and then click the Save button. You will then begin receiving information about transaction fees for your orders in any charge-amount-notification, refund-amount-notification, and chargeback-amount-notification messages that are sent to your notification handler.

Please post any questions or feedback you have about this new feature in our Merchant Forum.

Posted by Jan Kleinert, Developer Relations
URL: http://googlecheckout.blogspot.com/2009/09/transaction-fee-information-now.html

[G] Explaining top result and date biasing in Google Site Search

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Explaining top result and date biasing in Google Site Search

We know that businesses want website search solutions that are easy to implement, require little maintenance, and consistently return the best search results, without requiring time-consuming manual refinements. We also know that there can be times when businesses want additional control over the search they offer on their websites. That's when two important features in Google Site Search come in handy: "top result" and "date biasing." We want to highlight those today.

Google Site Search lets you customize search results in several ways to make sure items you want featured reach the top of the results list. With top result biasing, you can target the top search results from specific sections of your website (such as your product catalog or newsletter sign up page) to make sure visitors can find the most relevant pages within your site.



Site admins can also choose to organize search results based on the age of the documents with something we call date biasing. If you want to make sure that, say, a new PDF makes it to the top of the results rather than an outdated version, you can switch on date biasing and decide the level of influence (low, medium, high or maximum) so visitors can easily find the most recent version.

These are only two of the suite of customization features that are available with Google Site Search. To learn more, visit google.com/sitesearch.

Posted by Anna Bishop, Google Enterprise Search team
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/09/explaining-top-result-and-date-biasing.html

[G] Gov 2.0 Summit videos

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Google Public Policy Blog: Gov 2.0 Summit videos

Posted by Ginny Hunt, Public Sector Product Manager

(Cross-posted from the Google Public Sector Blog.)

If you weren't able to make the Gov 2.0 Summit last week in DC, you're in luck - videos of most presentations are now online.

A few Googlers had the chance to participate as speakers.

John Markoff of the New York Times led a discussion about developing an effective platform with TCP/IP creator and Googler Vint Cerf, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook's Tim Sparapani.



And as we mentioned on a previous post, Tim O'Reilly interviewed Google's Chief Economist Hal Varian about how government can take advantage of real time data and economic indicators.



We'll post an update when Ola Rosling's presentation on public data search and visualization is online.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/gov-20-summit-videos.html

[G] Books Digitized by Google Available via the Espresso Book Machine

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Inside Google Books: Books Digitized by Google Available via the Espresso Book Machine

Posted by Brandon Badger, Product Manager

I'm a sucker for a cool piece of technology. The Espresso Book Machine, which can print a book in minutes before your eyes, fits the bill. If sentient robots ever succeed in taking over the world, this is how they will print their books.

We founded Google Books on the premise that anyone, anywhere, anytime should have the tools to explore the great works of history and culture. We recently made available over a million free public domain books for viewing and download from our web site. Reading digital books can be an enjoyable experience, but we realize that there are times when readers want a physical copy of a book. To that end, I'm excited to announce that we're partnering with On Demand Books to allow readers to purchase public domain books digitized by Google from any Espresso Book Machine at bookstores and libraries around the world.

Here's some video footage of the Espresso machine in action:




We believe in an open ecosystem where people can access and read books, whether at a computer, on their phone or electronic reader, or from their local library or bookshop. This announcement is yet one more step towards fulfilling that mission: it helps people find and read these books in more ways.
URL: http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/09/books-digitized-by-google-available-via.html

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

[G] New AdWords bidding tutorial

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Official Google Blog: New AdWords bidding tutorial

(Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords Blog)

Last month we launched a new feature of AdWords called Bid Simulator. Bid Simulator takes some of the guess work out of cost per click (CPC) bidding by estimating the number of clicks or impressions you could have received if you had used a different maximum CPC bid. Today, I thought I would take the opportunity to help you make the most of this new feature by explaining how to use the data from Bid Simulator to maximize the profit from your marketing investment.

In general, when you increase your maximum CPC bid for keywords on search you are able to generate more clicks to your site. This may be because your new bid qualifies you to appear higher up in the Sponsored Links on the search results page, or because your higher bid qualifies your ad to appear in new, more expensive auctions. The goal for you as an advertiser is to decide whether or not these additional clicks come at a cost that is still profitable for you.

To make this decision, you need to compare your expected value per click to your incremental cost per click. Your value per click is how much a click for a particular keyword is worth to you, on average. Your incremental cost per click is how much extra you are paying, on average, for the extra clicks you are getting from your higher bid. When your value per click is higher than your incremental cost per click it makes sense to increase your bid. On the other hand, if your value per click is lower than your incremental cost per click, you probably want to decrease your bid.

To learn more, you can watch the tutorial video below. In the video, I'll show you how to calculate these values, how to interpret them and how to use the data to maximize the profit from your marketing investment. My team and I are always looking for ways to help make the AdWords auction easier to understand so if you have other topics that you'd like us to address, please leave a comment on the video and we may be able to make it a topic for a future video.



Watch it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRx7AMb6rZ0

Posted by Hal Varian, Chief Economist
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-adwords-bidding-tutorial.html

[G] Spritify with SpriteMe

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Google Open Source Blog: Spritify with SpriteMe

Using CSS sprites makes web pages faster, but they can take hours to create. Neophytes to this advanced performance optimization technique face the daunting challenge of trying to grasp the logic needed to convert their existing web page's background images into a spritified tribute to web performance. The bar shouldn't be so high.

SpriteMe is an open source project that helps web developers create sprites in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Its main features are:
  • finds background images

  • groups images into sprites

  • generates the sprite image

  • recomputes CSS background-positions

  • injects the sprite into the current page

SpriteMe is a JavaScript bookmarklet, so it runs in all major browsers. It converts the web page to use sprites while you watch, making it easy to verify that the visual layout is preserved. It lets you drag-and-drop to re-arrange the sprite suggestions any way you want. Or, you can adopt all of SpriteMe's suggestions with one click on the "make all" button. When it's done spriting, simply save the sprite image(s) to your server and integrate the modified CSS into your stylesheets. Try the tutorial to see SpriteMe in action.

Happy spriting!



By Steve Souders, Performance Evangelist
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/09/spritify-with-spriteme.html

[G] Teaching computers to read: Google acquires reCAPTCHA

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Official Google Blog: Teaching computers to read: Google acquires reCAPTCHA

The image above is a CAPTCHA — you can read it, but computers have a harder time interpreting the letters. We tried to make it hard for computers to recognize because we wanted to give humans the scoop first, but we're happy to announce to everybody now that Google has acquired reCAPTCHA, a company that provides CAPTCHAs to help protect more than 100,000 websites from spam and fraud.

Since computers have trouble reading squiggly words like these, CAPTCHAs are designed to allow humans in but prevent malicious programs from scalping tickets or obtain millions of email accounts for spamming. But there’s a twist — the words in many of the CAPTCHAs provided by reCAPTCHA come from scanned archival newspapers and old books. Computers find it hard to recognize these words because the ink and paper have degraded over time, but by typing them in as a CAPTCHA, crowds teach computers to read the scanned text.

In this way, reCAPTCHA’s unique technology improves the process that converts scanned images into plain text, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology also powers large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search. Having the text version of documents is important because plain text can be searched, easily rendered on mobile devices and displayed to visually impaired users. So we'll be applying the technology within Google not only to increase fraud and spam protection for Google products but also to improve our books and newspaper scanning process.

That's why we're excited to welcome the reCAPTCHA team to Google, and we're committed to delivering the same high level of performance that websites using reCAPTCHA have come to expect. Improving the availability and accessibility of all the information on the Internet is really important to us, so we're looking forward to advancing this technology with the reCAPTCHA team.

Posted by Luis von Ahn, co-founder of reCAPTCHA, and Will Cathcart, Google Product Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/teaching-computers-to-read-google.html

[G] New AdWords Bidding Tutorial

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Inside AdWords: New AdWords Bidding Tutorial

For today's Inside AdWords post we have a note from our Chief Economist at Google, Hal Varian. Hal and his team spend most of their time studying the AdWords auction and finding ways to make it more efficient. Today he'd like to share a new tutorial he and his team have put together on how to bid for maximum profitability on AdWords:

Last month we launched a new feature of AdWords called Bid Simulator. Bid Simulator takes some of the guess work out of cost per click (CPC) bidding by estimating the number of clicks or impressions you could have received if you had used a different maximum CPC bid. Today, I thought I would take the opportunity to help you make the most of this new feature by explaining how to use the data from Bid Simulator to maximize the profit from your marketing investment.

In general, when you increase your maximum CPC bid for keywords on search you are able to generate more clicks to your site. This may be because your new bid qualifies you to appear higher up in the Sponsored Links on the search results page, or because your higher bid qualifies your ad to appear in new, more expensive, auctions. The goal for you as an advertiser is to decide whether or not these additional clicks come at a cost that is still profitable for you.

To make this decision, you need to compare your expected value per click to your incremental cost per click. Your value per click is how much a click for a particular keyword is worth to you, on average. Your incremental cost per click is how much extra you are paying, on average, for the extra clicks you are getting from your higher bid. When your value per click is higher than your incremental cost per click it makes sense to increase your bid. On the other hand, if your value per click is lower than your incremental cost per click, you probably want to decrease your bid.

In the following video, I'll show you how to calculate these values, how to interpret them, and how to use the data to maximize the profit from your marketing investment. My team and I are always looking for ways to help make the AdWords auction easier to understand so if you have other topics that you'd like us to address, please leave a comment on the video and we may be able to make it a topic for a future video.



Posted by Dan Friedman, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-adwords-bidding-tutorial.html

[G] The Votes Are In: Fall TV's Most Anticipated Show

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YouTube Blog: The Votes Are In: Fall TV's Most Anticipated Show

YouTube users voted on over 100 Fall TV previews, and the most anticipated show of the season is...drumroll, please...Mythbusters. Congratulations to Jamie and Adam, who busted some viral video myths last season and whose popularity with our community is definitely confirmed.

As for your other Fall TV treats, the top five fan favorites include a pair of returning shows and two newcomers. Coming in second place is cranky doctor House, and in third, a strong showing for newcomer The Vampire Diaries, perhaps reflecting how popular vampire books, movies and shows are on YouTube and in our culture at large right now. At four, perky new series Glee delivers musical high school comedy, and at five, the once-hot Heroes could be set to make a comeback.

Voting has closed, but you can still see a huge selection of TV teasers at our Fall TV destination.

Mark Day, YouTube Comedy, has "Caprica" on his Fall TV must-see list.


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/mkg7HMZZaLA/votes-are-in-fall-tvs-most-anticipated.html

[G] What's up with Measurement Lab

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Google Public Policy Blog: What's up with Measurement Lab

Posted by Sascha Meinrath and Robb Topolski, Open Technology Initiative (OTI), and Derek Slater, Policy Analyst, Google

(Editor's note: We're pleased to welcome Sascha Meinrath and Robb Topolski of the Open Technology Initiative (OTI) as guest bloggers. As a part of The New America Foundation, OTI works to support policy and regulatory measures that further open technologies and communications networks.)

Eight months ago, we launched Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools.

We created M-Lab in order to help measure the actual performance of broadband Internet connections. Is your connection as fast as advertised? Where are the bottlenecks that impact VoIP or video performance? Answers to these sorts of questions will help users to make informed decisions in the market, and help governments around the globe to craft sound broadband policy.

So, how's it doing?

To date, more than 150,000 Internet users from around the world have used M-Lab to test the performance of their broadband connection and share information with researchers.

Now M-Lab is hitting the Mediterranean. We're thrilled to announce that the EETT -- Greece's telecommunications regulator -- and the Greek Research and Technology Network (GRnet) have contributed servers and connectivity for a new M-Lab node in Athens, Greece, and will collaborate with M-Lab to help improve the usability of the platform's tools.

EEET has already been working to provide useful information about broadband networks to consumers, through their central Web portal. EETT plans to incorporate data collected through M-Lab into this map, so that users will be able to compare broadband providers' and their Internet connection's performance across several dimensions.

In addition to EETT and GRnet, Voxel also has joined as an M-Lab partner, providing server nodes and connectivity in New York City. Since launch, we've added many new servers, for a total of 38 between the U.S. and Europe.

We've also added two new tools, PathLoad2 and ShaperProbe. PathLoad2 allows users to test their available bandwidth (the maximum bit rate you can send to a network link before it gets congested), and ShaperProbe detects whether the ISP reduces the speed of a download or an upload after it begins.

We're happy about M-Lab's successful beginning, but it's only the beginning. The platform and its tools are still very much in beta, and we continue efforts to improve them.

In the coming months we're aiming to make the collected data publicly available and accessible, improve the user experience and stability of our tools, and expand the availability of the site globally. Stay tuned, and in the meantime we hope you'll run an M-Lab test on your own broadband connection.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/whats-up-with-measurement-lab.html

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

[G] Report from the Gov 2.0 Summit

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Google Open Source Blog: Report from the Gov 2.0 Summit

Clearly designed as a conference to start but certainly not finish the conversation, last week's Gov 2.0 Summit assembled an impressive cast of presenters and interviewers. Key White House decision makers, government innovators and industry enthusiasts took the stage and lined the hallways for three days.

Having spent the last five years focusing on helping government adopt Open Source software and its collaboration model, my radar was tuned for explicit mentions / inclusions / endorsements of Open Source software. It appeared that leveraging Open Source software to solve some of the thornier technology problems challenging government (think healthcare and public safety interoperability) had been more implied than expressed in recent months. For the wider community looking for more signs of game change, the event provided plenty of evidence that Open Source is clearly at play.

Paul Rademacher, Google and AllForGood.org, Brian Behlendorf, White House Consultant and Richard Lin, CodeforAmerica.org

The Google-hosted reception Monday evening packed the public space at their headquarters on New York Avenue. The event was attended by private industry, publicists and social media converts, non-profit and Open Source community leadership and government attendees and offered a nice opportunity to mix it up after a day of the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase I sadly missed. Some of the sessions however are video-archived on the web.

Lifting off in a small flurry of debate over the right hash tag for the Gov2.0 Summit, the two day Gov2.0 Summit opened with the and energy and grin of Aneesh Chopra, Federal Chief Technology Officer. Chopra earned a reputation for creative collaboration with industry in his prior role as the Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia and brings the same to the federal scene. Virginia's extensive use of Open Source and open collaboration, as well as that of former D.C. CTO — now Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, is well known.

The conference brought attendees through a whirlwind tour of recent innovation in government IT: data transparency projects like Apps for Democracy and resulting mash-ups and visualization as inexpensive and "dirty" Open Source solutions to real problems. Open Source and its exceptional benefits of open standards and interoperability were highlighted in many presentations.

Conference highlights:
  • Beth Noveck provided the most comprehensive picture of what progress had been made by the new administration and its policy road map.

  • Best of Show for Crowd-Rallying: Carl Malamud discussed the need to make judiciary information — data and hearings — truly public in a day where “public” means “on the Internet.” In his speech designed in part for an audience not in the room, his closing comment asserted government operating systems should be Open Sourced brought the crowd to resounding applause.

  • Favorite Projects: Anything visualized — and most frequently enabled by Open Source.

  • Killer App: All things Geo-spatial.

  • Significant Announcement: The General Services Administration (GSA) will begin experimenting with the use of OpenID to manage identity on government web sites.


David Recordon, OpenID Foundation Board of Directors

For the seasoned government attendees, there was in reality not a great deal of new information to be had. That was, in fact, good news; as one government manager shared with me, social media tools like Twitter and GovLoop have made it much easier to stay in touch with what other agencies are up to, plus the 2009 Federal IT Strategy has been broadly distributed and much discussed internally.

The White House will release its new Open Government Directive in a few weeks and will set federal agency wheels in motion. Implementation will be challenging and require the philosophy of change to shift into gear. Industry and government seem to agree that the next non-trivial challenge to technology innovation will be procurement reform.

By Deb Bryant, Public Sector Communities Manager, Oregon State University Open Source Lab and Producer, Government Open Source Conference
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/09/report-from-gov-20-summit.html

[G] Introducing Google for the Public Sector

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Google Public Policy Blog: Introducing Google for the Public Sector

Posted by Ginny Hunt, Public Sector Project Manager

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

The 2008 elections demonstrated how technology can increase political participation, and now we're beginning to see the power of Web 2.0 come to government.

On the heels of last week's Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C., we're excited to launch Google for the Public Sector, a one-stop shop of tools and tips that local, state and federal government officials can use to help promote transparency and increase citizen participation.

The site helps government agencies:
  • Make your website, and the information it offers, easier to find. For example, in less than 50 technical staff hours, Arizona's Government Information Technology Agency made hundreds of thousands of public records and other webpages "crawlable" to search engines and visible in Google search results.
  • Visualize your information and tell your story in Google Earth & Maps to the hundreds of millions of people who use them. The State Department runs an interactive Google Map of Secretary Clinton's travels, which shows where she has been and includes photos and videos.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, nearly four out of five American Internet users go online to find government information. Technology will help play a key role in making this information accessible, useful and transparent.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/introducing-google-for-public-sector.html

[G] Introducing Google Web Elements

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Inside AdSense: Introducing Google Web Elements

Looking for ways to spice up your website with dynamic content? You may know from our optimization tips that you can help increase your AdSense revenue by incorporating other Google products into your site. We're happy to introduce a new, easy way for you to do just that with Google Web Elements.

Web Elements let you easily add richness and interactivity to your site simply by copying and pasting a snippet of code. Inspired by the convenience of embeddable YouTube videos, each Web Element is built upon existing Google products. For example, the Google News element, introduced on this blog earlier this year, dynamically pulls in content from Google News based on news topics you select and displays within an embed on your site. With the official launch of Web Elements, you can choose to include Web Elements from products like Google Custom Search, Calendar, Docs, Friend Connect, and more.

Need more inspiration on how to integrate Web Elements into your site? Here are a few ideas:
  • If you're using a Custom Search Engine on your site, the Custom Search element can help you integrate search results much more seamlessly with the look and feel of your pages. You can continue to earn revenues from searches while offering a better user experience to your users with better results styling.

    Who's using it: The Mayo Clinic uses the Custom Search Element as their main search function. The look and feel of the search results blends in smoothly with the rest of the site.


  • To enable your visitors to post comments and links on your site, use the Conversation element. The element also lets visitors participate in conversations via Friend Connect.

    Who's using it: St. Simons Blog uses the Conversation element to let users in St. Simons Island and Georgia's Golden Isles connect with each other.


  • The YouTube News element displays the latest YouTube videos from a number of news content partners including the Associated Press, CBS Online, Washington Post, Bloomberg, NY Times, Russia Today, Al-Jazeera English, and more.

    Who's using it: CitizenTube is YouTube's official news and politics blog. They display the YouTube News element on the right-hand side of the homepage labeled as "Latest News Videos".


  • The Spreadsheet element allows you to display a table of information to your users which pulls from any Google Spreadsheet you choose. Whenever you update the Spreadsheet, the element will also update automatically. This is an easy way to keep dynamic content on your site fresh.

    Who's using it: Metal Italia is an Italian heavy metal fan site. The site uses the Spreadsheet element to display album information for heavy metal artists.


To get started, all you need to do is go to http://www.google.com/webelements, select the element you want on your site, and copy and paste the resulting code into your website source code. If you're interested in tinkering further with the Web Elements, you can further customize any of the elements as you please, since they're all powered by Google's developer APIs.

Using a Web Element on your site (or two, or seven)? We'd love to hear what you think and how they've been working for you. Just leave a comment on this blog post!

Posted by Christine Tsai - Google Web Elements Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/09/introducing-google-web-elements.html