Saturday, November 13, 2010

[G] Why Google Uses AdWords

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Inside AdWords: Why Google Uses AdWords

It probably comes as no surprise that we are huge fans of AdWords. It is such an effective marketing tool for our advertisers that it's no wonder that we'd use it ourselves. In fact, Google uses AdWords for many of the same reasons that our advertisers do - it's a great way to reach users and raise awareness about a product or feature. Type “Chrome” into the search box on Google, and you’ll see an ad with links and a demonstration video.

House ads are a common industry practice. Newspapers show ads in their pages with information on how to subscribe. Television stations show ads to promote different programs that are on the same channel or other channels owned by the same parent company. And search engines commonly use ads to inform and educate users about services they provide.

As we’ve always said, we’ve been using house ads for several years to promote a variety of products. We've run search marketing campaigns on Google for search products such as iGoogle, Google Maps, and mobile products as well as for specific issues in order to provide information to our users. We’ve run ads related to disasters to help users find resources and learn more about disaster relief (for example, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile, Google showed an ad with links to Google’s crisis response website for queries such as “Chile earthquake”).

How do these house ads work?
  • These advertising campaigns are subject to internal marketing budgets, so we are strategic and careful in our implementation of our advertising campaigns.
  • We only allow ads from Google that comply with the same ads policies that apply to any other advertiser. In fact, Google's ads are not guaranteed to appear in any given spot.
  • Indeed, as any other advertiser experiences, only directly relevant and quality ads will show, as the auction is dynamic [see Quality Scores and Ad Auctions].
  • It is the quality scores and the bids of all advertisers entering a specific auction which may determine the cost-per-click, and Google may well be one of these advertisers.
  • For AdSense ads, all AdSense publishers and syndication partners get paid exactly the same way whether the advertiser is Google or another business.
We manage our advertising campaigns according to the same principles that any other advertiser would. We look closely at our budgets, managing our spend against CPC and CPA (cost-per-acquisition). Like more than a million other businesses, we believe in the value of online marketing to connect with web users.

Posted by Lorraine Twohill, Vice President, Global Marketing

[G] AdWords system maintenance on November 13

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Inside AdWords: AdWords system maintenance on November 13

On Saturday, November 13, the AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PDT due to our regularly scheduled system maintenance. While you won't be able to log into your account during this time, your campaigns will continue to run as usual.

AdWords system maintenance typically occurs on the second Saturday of each month during the above times. We'll continue to update you here as we always have, but you may want to take note of our intended dates and times to help you plan for any scheduled downtimes further down the road.

Posted by Gordon Zhu, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Product Listing Ads rolling out to all U.S. advertisers

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Inside AdWords: Product Listing Ads rolling out to all U.S. advertisers

One year ago today we launched the initial beta of Product Listing Ads. With Product Listing Ads, we wanted to introduce a basic ad format that makes it easy for you to promote your entire product inventory while still providing potential customers with high-quality, relevant results. Over the last year we’ve been impressed with the results. In fact, during the beta, advertisers listed hundreds of millions of products and we found that people are twice as likely to click on a Product Listing Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location.

Today we're announcing that Product Listing Ads is coming out of beta. Starting today, and rolling out completely over the next week, all U.S. advertisers can start using Product Listing Ads.

Product Listing Ads, along with Product Extensions, is part of AdWords Product Ads. With Product Ads, users can see the exact products you offer before they even reach your site, which leads to more clicks, higher quality leads, and higher ROI for your search ads.

Like Product Extensions, which lets you add the pictures and prices of relevant products to your keyword-targeted text ads, Product Listing Ads makes it easy to show the most relevant products from your Google Merchant Center account to potential customers searching on

However, unlike Product Extensions, Product Listing Ads don’t require any keywords or ad text. Product Listing Ads are automatically triggered whenever someone’s search matches an item in your Merchant Center account, making it easy to show relevant ads for your entire product inventory.

To learn more about Product Ads and see how to get started with Product Extensions and Listings, you can visit our help center or watch the video below.

Posted by Dan Friedman, Inside AdWords crew

[G] New panoramic photos in Google Earth

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Google LatLong: New panoramic photos in Google Earth

Viewing photos in Google Earth has long been a popular activity for avid virtual globe-trotters. It's one of the best ways to "visit" places all over the world without paying for a plane ticket or getting jet lag. Today, the Google Earth photo viewing experience just got better with the addition of panoramic images.

People using Google Earth will find a new "Photos" layer that includes not only the existing 2D photos from the Panoramio community, but also panoramic photos from around the world contributed by users of These high-resolution panoramic photos are marked in Google Earth as red square icons. When you click on one of these icons, an info bubble containing an image appears, and clicking on the image again will take you into our photo viewing mode. You can then look around in 360-degree views and experience the place as if you’re standing right at the center of it.

new "Photos" layer on Google Earth

info bubble on Google Earth

These panoramic photos are shot by average people just like you and me. To contribute your panoramic photos, visit We invite all users to become part of the community and mark your photo journey in Google Earth.

Check out some of the beautiful images now available right in Google Earth.

Golden Gate Bridge on Google Earth and on

Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh, Indonesia on Google Earth and on

Lion's Head, South Africa on Google Earth and on

Diving New Caledonia Amedee Island on Google Earth and on

Umag Asanas, Istria at sunset on Google Earth and on

Panthéon and Foucault pendulum, Paris on Google Earth and on

Posted by Wei Luo, Senior Geo Data Strategist

[G] Costa Rican-Nicaraguan Country Border Updated on Google Earth

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Google LatLong: Costa Rican-Nicaraguan Country Border Updated on Google Earth

Last week, we were informed of a data error regarding the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in Google Maps. We said we would update our data for this region. We have now updated the border data on Google Earth, and we are working on updating this border on Google Maps as well.

As always, you can report errors about Google Earth through our Data Reporting Page or about Maps through the Report a Problem tool, where available.

Posted by Wei Luo, Senior Geo Data Strategist

[G] This week in search 11/12/10

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 11/12/10

This is one of a regular series of posts on search experience updates. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

We’re always excited by the diversity of the search features and enhancements that we make in any given week. Each week we try to release a diverse set of search feature and enhancement to help you find what you’re looking for, faster. From getting sports information instantly, to making it even easier for you to find the right webpage, this week’s round up includes a slew of new changes.

NHL Live Result
Many of you are sports fans, and we’re always delighted to make improvements that help you find those scores, stats and recaps. We partnered with our friends at to provide rich information in the snippets of the results. These include real-time scores, schedules and team standings. They also include links for quick access to game previews, live streams, recaps and video highlights of completed games making it super-easy to keep up to date on the latest NHL action.

Example searches: [nhl], [rangers]

Help for those who need it
In times of crisis, it's especially important to find the crucial information you're looking for—and find it fast. After receiving positive feedback for poison control and suicide prevention special search features in the U.S., this week we launched one or more emergency search features in 13 countries: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. For certain queries, the feature displays the phone number to call for poison emergencies, suicide prevention or general emergency services.

Instant Previews
This week we were excited to take the speed of Google Instant even further with the launch of Instant Previews in almost all languages and domains. Instant Previews is a new, interactive feature that helps you select the right results by showing you a preview of each page and highlighting the most relevant sections for your query. You can activate the feature with a single click on the magnifying glass next to the result title. The tool is fast and interactive, with the average preview appearing in under a tenth of a second.

Learn more about Instant Previews here.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s updates. You can check out some of the top searches of the week on our latest edition of Google Beat—stay tuned for more!

Posted by Johanna Wright, Director of Search Product Management

[G] Voice Search in underrepresented languages

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Voice Search in underrepresented languages


Today we’re introducing Voice Search support for Zulu and Afrikaans, as well as South African-accented English. The addition of Zulu in particular represents our first effort in building Voice Search for underrepresented languages. We define underrepresented languages as those which, while spoken by millions, have little presence in electronic and physical media, e.g., webpages, newspapers and magazines.

We believe that the speech research community needs to start working on many of these underrepresented languages to advance progress and build speech recognition, translation and other Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. The development of NLP technologies in these languages is critical for enabling information access for everybody. Indeed, these technologies have the potential to break language barriers.

Check out the Google Research Blog for more details.

Salani kahle!**

* “Welcome” in Afrikaans
** “Stay well” in Zulu

Posted by Pedro J. Moreno, Staff Research Scientist and Johan Schalkwyk, Senior Staff Engineer

Friday, November 12, 2010

[G] Migrating from Lotus Notes® just got easier

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Migrating from Lotus Notes® just got easier

Earlier this week, we released improved versions of Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes and Google Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes. The migration tool has more than 40 new features to make moving from your Lotus Notes environment to Google's cloud even easier. Here are our favorites:
  • Support for OAuth, so you don't need to store administrator and user passwords to migrate mail, calendar and contacts
  • User provisioning can be run as a separate module prior to user migration, so you can verify users have been provisioned as you like before migrating data
  • Enhanced logging capabilities so you can see what migration actions were taken
  • Support for assigning group owners from migrated Domino Directory groups
  • Improved support for migrated calendar events and push synchronization for BlackBerry® devices
  • Simpler migration tool interface
Head over to the download page to read more about the new migration functionality and get the update. Please also visit our user forums if you have any questions or comments!

Posted by Colin Neale, Technical Solutions Engineer

[G] Going Google across the 50 States: Two California-based companies find a common solution with Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Going Google across the 50 States: Two California-based companies find a common solution with Google Apps

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from and Medialcoate, two companies based in California. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

San Francisco moms and career women, Allison Howard and Laurel Kellam, are making it easier for Bay Area families to find events targeted at children under the age of five through Both Laurel and Allison work from home and meet up once or twice a week so the ability to be productive and access files remotely is critical. The two founders communicate throughout the day via Gmail and chat, and rely heavily on Google Docs to store, track and collaborate on just about everything.

According to Laurel, “As soon as we learned about the functionality and cost of Google Apps it was a no-brainer. Neither of us are ‘tech guys’ and we didn’t want to spend our money on any expensive equipment like servers. We’re big Google fans in general - we both use Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Voice for personal reasons. Also, as business owners who are responsible for every aspect of our start-up we knew we wouldn’t have the time or patience to troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook.”

Like Laurel and Allison, other companies have found that the cost benefits and collaboration tools offered through Google Apps can’t be beat. To learn more, we move south to Pacific Grove where we meet Marcelo Rizzo, Technical Manager for Medialocate, a translation services company helping Fortune 500 companies bring their products and content to global audiences. Marcelo tells us about why Medialocate chose Google Apps.

“Four years ago, Medialocate outsourced its Microsoft Exchange server to a hosting service. Everything went well for about two years. Then, all of the sudden, we were getting 75% uptime and a lot of user complaints. We pondered bringing Exchange back in-house. At $136 per user/year, it was not cost effective. We looked at other e-mail hosting services, but they were also not cost effective.

Finally we looked at Google Apps — $50 per user/year including support, document sharing and centralized management was unbeatable. It has become an integral part of our core assets and has helped boost our profitability by 30% over last year.”

Posted by Michelle Lisowski, Google Apps team

[G] Google Site Search is polishing its pricing structure

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Site Search is polishing its pricing structure

A good product is like your favorite pair of shoes – it sees quite a bit of use, takes a few scuffs, and sooner or later is due for a shine. Google Site Search is used by thousands of companies across the globe, and based on product use, customer feedback, and a general desire to make things easier, we recently decided that we’re due for our polishing. So we’re shining Site Search up by simplifying the way we charge for our service.

To date, we’ve charged for Google Site Search based on both the number of submitted search queries and the number of pages indexed. We noticed that many of our users had a difficult time estimating the number of pages included in the scope of their search engine, so we are introducing a new pricing system that factors only the quantity of submitted queries your Google Site Search engine receives each year. Now our pricing is much simpler and scales to accommodate the size of your business. The vast majority of our users will be unaffected and many will even begin paying less when the new prices take effect upon their annual renewal.

Please note: This pricing change applies to all new
subscriptions and renewals as of November 12, 2010.

And to give your website a little extra shine, we are now doubling our on-demand indexing quota for all subscription plans, so new web pages added to your site will be quickly indexed and made searchable. So get out that elbow grease and join us in improving search on your website!

For more information on pricing, please visit the Google Site Search website and Help Center articles.

Posted by Guillaume De Zwirek and Clay Maffett, Google Site Search team

[G] Code Site In Five New Languages

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Google Analytics Blog: Code Site In Five New Languages

Google Analytics is not only a product but also a platform, supporting an ecosystem of developers, tools, users, and partners. The Google Analytics APIs are an important part of this ecosystem and platform. In fact, over 80 new applications have been added to the Google Apps Gallery since we announced it 6 months ago. We love seeing this kind of innovation, and we want to do everything we can to encourage it -- not just in English-speaking regions, but around the world.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’re making an important development tool -- Google Code, the documentation on which developers depend to create these applications -- available in five additional languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. We’ve identified these languages as ones especially useful to users wanting in-language, technically involved documentation about Analytics.

Whether you are a long-time Analytics partner/developer in Brazil, a systems integrator in China, or a applications developer in Japan, you can now use Google Code in your native language.

To view the language of your choice, just go to and click on the language selector to the left of the Sign out link.

Happy reading, analyzing, and developing!

Posted by Patricia Boswell, Google Analytics Team

[G] Optimize And Analyze For Mobile, part 1

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Google Analytics Blog: Optimize And Analyze For Mobile, part 1

This is part 1 of a timely 3 part guest post on mobile analytics strategy and implementation by Feras Alhlou at E-Nor, a Certified Partner in Northern California. A must-read if you're preparing for the mobile revolution that has been going on for a few years. :-) There's still time - use these posts as a starting point.

Only a few years ago, organizations were still trying to figure out the web. Forward thinking marketers contemplated the capacity of the digital medium to implement viable online business strategies and maximize marketing ROI. Over time, marketing managers and business owners saw the writing on the, er, screen. Those who invested in their online presence and established a measurement culture are now reaping great benefits.

Whereas the web’s ROI has proved rewarding, the possibilities in “mobile” have yet to be discovered. Just taking a quick look at the ubiquitous use of smart devices (Google’s Android, iPhone, etc.) should pique your interest. And rest assured, you won’t stumble across any hidden fees and dropped calls in this market. Lucky for you (and me), it's not too early to start taking the mobile market seriously and by following these simple yet key steps, the ability to “rethink possible” is just a few Google Analytics metrics away.

With these posts, I hope to share a few useful tips for marketing managers and business owners to better understand their mobile traffic and improve returns.

Can’t get good reception? (Pun intended). No problem! Just apply these three analytics tips. The first one is here, and the other two will follow in blog posts in the coming weeks:

1. Look for Mobile Trends
The number of visits to your site might not be the most attractive key performance indicator (KPI). Yes, that's exactly what I am saying- more traffic does NOT always translate to more sales! In fact, I’ve seen plenty of sites with traffic through the roof and sales down the toilet. Instead, give your metrics more context and you’ll transform it from boring to sexy at twice the speed of light.

Here is an example: if I tell you that your month-over-month traffic is flat, well, that’s not very exciting (and you might want to have a serious talk with your demand generation manager). But if I tell you that, while your overall traffic was flat your mobile traffic has increased at a rate of 25%, it's a different story altogether. The graph below depicts this upward traffic trend.

So show some love to this KPI and monitor mobile traffic to your website. This can be easily done with Google Analytics by clicking on the “Mobile” reports under the “Visitors” Tab. Then, follow these action items to realize your true mobile trends, in context:

1.1 Set up an auto report to be sent to your inbox (daily, weekly or monthly)

1.2 If you are interested in monitoring specific thresholds, you can create a profile for mobile traffic and then create a custom alert that is emailed to you when these thresholds are met

1.3 Or, for the Ninja analyst, using the Google Analytics Data Export API & plug-in (e.g. shuffle point), pull this data automatically into your marketing dashboard

Note: You can still add more context to your metrics to determine how engaged your mobile visitors are. You can even trend it over time. This can be easily done by creating an advanced segment for the engagement metrics that are relative to your business (e.g. non-bouncing visits, visits with more than X minutes and viewed Y key pages, etc.)

(note: while the case study we're using is specific to an e-commerce business, the approach and analysis are applicable to all businesses, be it lead-generation or content or other business models. Also, for technical accuracy, the reports and analysis in these posts reflect users accessing your website from a high-end mobile device. Please see the technical note at the end of the posts on mobile sites as well as non-smart mobile devices).

Stay tuned for Part 2: Give Your Reports More Dollar Power, coming soon.

Posted by Jeff Gillis, Google Analytics Team and Feras Alhlou, E-Nor

[G] Take Advantage Of The Help Forum

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Google Analytics Blog: Take Advantage Of The Help Forum

Do you need answers to your Google Analytics questions? Do you want advice on customizing the tracking code? Eager to share your knowledge with other Google Analytics users?

The Google Analytics Help Forum is a community of people like you, who enjoy helping each other figure out the best ways to use Google Analytics. You can share your expertise or seek out answers in this user powered community. Also, there are active Googlers such as myself who are monitoring the forum and chiming in as often as we can. It's probably the quickest way to get help - usually you don't have to wait 24 hours for a response.

Our Top Contributors are highly knowledgeable and will point you to the right resources that'll help you troubleshoot your issue. We love giving them a shout out here - maybe next month it'll be you or someone who helped you.

Top Contributors for October
  • PPC_Guru (Phil Pearce)
  • Bronwyn Vourtis (Whims)
Thanks you two! Maybe we'll send you a little fun Google Analytics swag (or already have :-). And to everyone else writing responses and jumping in and helping out - thanks. And to those posting questions - thanks as well. It helps us figure out what's puzzling our users, or causing problems, so we can improve the product. This community never ceases to amaze us - you have driven improvements and refinements that make this product great. We're listening and evolving.

So, why wait when you have a question or a tip about GA? If you can't find the answer in our other resources such as the do-it-yourself resources under "Learning Center" over on the right hand side of this page, then go social and post them here in the forum.

Posted by Arunodaya Jayanti, Google Analytics Team

[G] Google Earth: a window to greater learning

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Google LatLong: Google Earth: a window to greater learning

We love hearing stories about how people all over the world use Google Earth. Richard Allaway, a teacher at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations, recently shared his thoughts on the importance of Google Earth in his classroom. With Google Earth, Richard is able to create a unique experience in which he and his students can travel the world, exploring everywhere from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to the peaks of the Smoky Mountains. We loved his story so much, we want to share it with you too!

Here's what Richard had to say:
There are two windows in my classroom. One window looks past the buildings of the International Labour Organization, Geneva's Jet d'Eau, and onwards to the Alps.

Google Earth’s representation of the view from Richard’s classroom window

Through the other window we can see Mount Etna, the meanders of the Mississippi, all the way to the buildings of Ancient Rome and even significant earthquakes that have happened in the last seven days. This “other” window is Google Earth.

I am a humanities teacher at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations working with students ages 11 to 18 years old. But Google Earth is an important tool in any teacher’s toolbox because it provides a free and accessible gateway to far-off places. I use Google Earth to enhance my students’ learning opportunities and help them better understand the places we discuss. From our classroom, we can visit the landscapes that we can’t normally see through the limited viewpoint of a real window.

For example, we’ve taken a tour through the limestone landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales in the United Kingdom. Guided by a Google Earth tour and supporting worksheet, my students explored the unique limestone features and saw for themselves how geological processes shape our environments.

To study the possible eruption of Mount Rainier in the American northwest, we used Google Earth to visualize the hazards and the corresponding management strategies. Students were then challenged to use Google Earth or Maps to plan an escape route for what is considered to be a low-probability, but high-consequence event.

Information in Google Earth about Mount Rainier is the website I use to organize and deliver my teaching resources. Students can access it from any location, whether they’re at the library, at home, on their computers and on their smart phones. It’s a continually developing project, but also a service that I welcome my fellow educators to use to help support their own lesson planning.
We love hearing inspirational stories like Richard’s, so if you want to share a cool experience you’ve had using Google Earth, tell us - we’re listening!

Posted by Vaishaly Shah, Google Earth Team

[G] Refining the Google Maps tiles for Japan

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Google LatLong: Refining the Google Maps tiles for Japan

Today the Google Maps team is excited to announce that we are releasing a number of improvements to the look and feel of the map for Japan. This redesign is intended to provide our users with an easier to read and more beautiful map, and to help them find the geographic information they want more quickly.

We’ve given a lot of thought to the visuals used to present the multi-faceted information on the Japanese maps, and have arrived at a refined set of style updates for the typography, iconography, colors and line styles.

A picture speaks a thousand words, so here is an example to show you the new and improved style. Unlike western countries, most Japanese roads do not have names. Instead, the cities are organized with a hierarchical block system. In our new design, the more legible font treatment helps the user to distinguish localities, points of interest and transit stations:

As there are limited street names, landmarks are also an important element for street navigation. The traffic lights, points of interest and prominent local businesses can now be read and found more easily thanks to newly designed icons:

We hope you like the revamped look of Google Maps for Japan, and that it improves your ability to quickly and easily find your way!

Zhou Bailiang, User Experience Designer, Google Maps

[G] Who's the newest Super Modeler? Vote!

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Google LatLong: Who's the newest Super Modeler? Vote!

(Cross-posted from the Official SketchUp Blog)

Today we’re announcing a new approach to bestowing “Super Modeler” status on our geo-modeling rock stars. More on that below—but first a little history.

A new form of 3D modeling began when @Last Software, the maker of SketchUp, was acquired by Google in 2006. Modeling 3D buildings for the purpose of viewing them in Google Earth went from being a quirky activity to a new art form. We refer to it as "geo-modeling.”

Being 3D enthusiasts ourselves, we were always on the lookout for good building models in the 3D Warehouse. When we discovered particularly impressive ones, we would add them to the featured modeler collection.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood by Arrigo Silva

Internally, we used the phrase “super modelers” to describe the people creating these amazing models, but it wasn’t until we started planning the first geo-modeling conference in August of last year that we began to publicly refer to modelers in this way. Following the event, a newsgroup was established, a collection created, and the user community representing some of the most skilled geo-modelers was officially born.

As the geo-modeling community expanded, so did the number of people creating remarkable models. We continued to add new modelers as we discovered them, and earlier this year we introduced badges in the 3D Warehouse—with one designated specifically for Super Modelers.

The coveted Super Modeler badge

With badges comes competition—more and more modelers began to ask how they could earn this honor. As time passed it became evident that we needed a clear set of criteria by which a modeler would be considered. The time had also come to establish greater transparency for how these decisions were being made, and who was making them.

So today we’re announcing a new process to become a Super Modeler—you decide!

It works like this: Each month the Super Modeler community will nominate ten geo-modelers who they believe are, well, super. Votes will be accepted for a three-week period. At the end of that period, the modeler who has received the most votes will become the newest Super Modeler.

In addition to being awarded a Super Modeler badge, the winner’s collection will be prominently featured on the Google 3D Warehouse until the next Super Modeler is selected. They'll also receive a one-of-a-kind “I’m a Google Supermodel(er)” t-shirt from the Google team.

It all starts now: Take a look at November's nominees, then cast your vote for the next Google Super Modeler!

Posted by Bruce Polderman, Product Manager


[G] Changing World, Changing Maps

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Google LatLong: Changing World, Changing Maps

Today, we are excited to let you know that we have updated the base map data in all Google Maps products and services for ten countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland. This follows earlier improvements to our maps in the US and Canada, and will be rolling out over the course of the next day.

Somewhere near you, a new road is being constructed, an existing one is changing names, a new restaurant is opening, or a parking lot is making way for a park. With this update, you can help keep your neighborhood accurate across Google’s geo product suite. Notice that something has changed on your block recently, or that the directions provided could have been better? Report a problem, and we will make the change in Google Maps within a couple of months.

We have worked hard to improve the usefulness of the maps for our users, developers, and business partners. Improvements range from including more address data and building footprints so you find your destinations easily, to adding higher resolution topographic features and detailed university campuses to help you orient yourself faster in a new area. We have also augmented our maps with bike paths and walking trails, and will roll out biking directions soon. We hope our maps help you explore your world better.

Posted by Anup Mantri, Software Engineer

[G] Google Apps highlights – 11/12/2010

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Official Google Blog: Google Apps highlights – 11/12/2010

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

In this installment, we’re bringing you a little more flair for your Gmail inbox and a video introduction to real-time co-editing in Google Docs. We also have some nice improvements for organizations using Google Apps to save money and achieve even bigger productivity gains by collaborating in Google’s cloud.

Five new themes available in Gmail

Some people are happy with the classic white and blue color scheme in Gmail, others like to spice things up and make their inbox feel a little more personal. Last week we added five more themes to choose from in Gmail, bringing the total to over 35 designs. Take a look, maybe you’re in the mood for a floral backdrop or something more playful like this new Marker theme.

Visualizing character-by-character document co-editing
From day one, Google Docs allowed multiple people to work on the same document together at the same time from different computers. But until you experience this for yourself, it’s hard to understand how much time this can save. Imagine being able to work together without the hassles of shuttling attachments back and forth, and reconciling people’s edits each time. If you’re a Google Docs newbie, we think this video we created last week helps bring the possibilities to life.

The business value of faster collaboration
We recently enlisted the help of Forrester Consulting to measure the “Total Economic Impact” of Google Apps that customers can expect over three years by moving from traditional technologies to the cloud. While we encourage you to assess the potential impact for yourself, Forrester’s analysis (PDF) found that with Google Apps, a typical large business of 18,000 employees experiences:
  • Productivity gains even larger than cost savings
  • Ove 300% return on investment
  • Break-even under seven months
  • Total economic impact over $10,000,000 (NPV)
Service activity graphs for administrators
To give administrators a window into how users in their organizations are collaborating in new ways, last Tuesday we added service activity graphs to the Google Apps control panel. These charts make it easy for organizations to quickly spot usage trends that they might not have anticipated and make adjustments accordingly, like scaling back technical support for legacy technologies.

App Tuesday: eight new applications to choose from in the Apps Marketplace
The Google Apps Marketplace is where third-party software developers list their applications that integrate seamlessly with Google Apps—and the number of offerings in the Marketplace continues to grow. On Tuesday, we added eight new applications ranging from personal relationship management and administrative tools to idea management and Google Site management solutions.

Who’s gone Google?
It’s been two weeks since the last update here, which means tens of thousands of businesses, schools and organizations have moved to the cloud with Google Apps. Small businesses around the world like Belle and Rollo and YETI Coolers turn to Google Apps, so they can focus on business instead of managing complex technology. Companies like National Geographic save money in a tough economy with Google Apps, while giving their most demanding mobile workers better tools to work efficiently. And universities like NYU are joining the Google Apps family to give students the modern, web-based tools that allow people to work together in more collaborative ways. To all, a warm welcome!

I hope these updates help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager

[G] Quick update on our vulnerability reward program

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Google Online Security Blog: Quick update on our vulnerability reward program

Posted by Matt Moore, Michal Zalewski, Adam Mein, Chris Evans; Google Security Team

About a week and a half ago we launched a new web vulnerability reward program, and the response has been fantastic. We've received many high quality reports from across the globe. Our bug review committee has been working hard, and we’re pleased to say that so far we plan to award over $20,000 to various talented researchers. We'll update our 'Hall of Fame' page with relevant details over the next few days.

Based on what we've received over the past week, we've clarified a few things about the program — in particular, the types of issues and Google services that are in scope for a reward. The review committee has been somewhat generous this first week, and we’ve granted a number of awards for bugs of low severity, or that wouldn’t normally fall under the conditions we originally described. Please be sure to review our original post and clarification thoroughly before reporting a potential issue to us.

[G] Honoring Veterans Day 2010 at Google

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Official Google Blog: Honoring Veterans Day 2010 at Google

Today is Veterans Day, the annual U.S. holiday honoring military veterans and the end of World War I, also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world. As we did last year, we want to recognize and thank these courageous men and women who willingly serve to defend the freedoms and rights of others.

For those of us who haven’t served, it’s also a day when we can seek to understand what it means to serve in the armed forces—in any country—and the burdens that military personnel and their families bear on our behalf.

This year, we celebrate the holiday with a special doodle on—and YouTube is featuring content from veterans sharing their personal stories about life in combat and beyond. You’ll hear from Peter, who was awarded a Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the U.S. armed forces for valor; Justin, a disabled veteran who is advocating for wounded warriors; and other brave men and women.

The Google Veterans Network, our employee group dedicated to veterans’ issues led 11 service projects in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia—bringing employees together with those who have served or are still serving. Nearly 200 Googlers volunteered approximately 500 hours in local communities like Ann Arbor, MI. and Seattle, WA. In Mountain View, we taught 510 students at Monta Loma Elementary School about the historic meaning of November 11 and service to one’s country. We also offered Veterans Day and Remembrance Day menus in our company cafes, including military paraphernalia displays and samples of MREs (meals ready to eat).

Through financial and in-kind support, the Google Veterans Network has worked closely with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Coming Home Project, Fisher House Foundation (Puget Sound), the Ann Arbor VA Hospital, The Royal British Legion and The Returned and Services League of Australia to make this November 11 a special one.

Posted by Carrie Laureno, Audience Evangelist, Creative Lab and Founder, Google VetNet

[G] Helping you find emergency information when you need it

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Official Google Blog: Helping you find emergency information when you need it

(Cross-posted from the blog)

We know that in times of crisis, it's especially important for you to find the crucial information you're looking for—and find it fast. Today, in 13 countries, we’ll begin displaying some combination of special search results for searches around poison control, suicide and common emergency numbers that point to emergency information.

This effort started last year when I received an email from a mother in the U.S. who had trouble finding the phone number for the poison control hotline after her daughter accidentally ingested something potentially poisonous (fortunately, her daughter was fine). As a result, people in the U.S. performing various searches including "poison control" began to see a special result displaying the national phone number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers last fall.

Example of the poison control result in Spain

Soon after we added poison control information to search results, we heard from Googlers whose lives had been affected by suicide and who thought that suicide prevention could be another case for a special search result. In April we began prominently displaying the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the top of the results page for certain search queries in the U.S. Since then, our friends at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have reported a 9 percent increase in legitimate calls to its hotline.

Example of the suicide prevention result in the U.K.

So, following positive feedback from consumers and our hotline partners, we decided to expand the poison control and suicide prevention special search results beyond the U.S. Each of these 13 countries will see one or more of these results: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. We looked for hotlines that are available nationally and 24/7 and we hope to add additional countries in the future.

We're also introducing a new special search result for common emergencies, such as fire, medical and police emergencies. We want to make this information easier to find for residents as well as travelers, especially as some countries have different numbers for different emergencies.

Example of the emergency number result in France

An emergency is stressful enough. We hope this small step helps connect people with the information they need immediately.

Posted by Roni Zeiger, MD, Chief Health Strategist