Saturday, July 28, 2012

[G] How November Will Be Won: By the Numbers

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YouTube Blog: How November Will Be Won: By the Numbers

Did you know that 1/3 of people who see a campaign ad on YouTube have not seen it on TV? We recently shared this on our Politics & Elections Blog. You can read an example of the types of things we talk about on that blog below. For more information about marketing a campaign on YouTube visit our YouTube for politicians website.

Earlier this year, we introduced “Four Screens to Victory”, a framework for political campaigns that outlined how Google can help make the web work for candidates and issues groups up and down the ballot. With these digital platforms, campaigns can build their organizations, define the issues, persuade the electorate and - importantly - get the vote out and win the moment that matters in November on Election Day.

Access to political information no longer comes from one place - or one screen. In just the four years since the last presidential election, the continued growth of the web and the proliferation of mobile devices has radically transformed when, where, and how voters access political information.

The numbers are in, and savvy political campaigns need to take notice. The rules of reaching voters have changed and new approaches are warranted because:

  • More than 80% of eligible voters are online

  • Similarly, 83% of mobile phone owners are registered voters

  • 1 out of every 3 likely voters in November say that they didn’t watch tv in the past week

  • Voters are spending more media time on their mobile devices than newspapers & magazines combined

(Click the infographic below to get a larger version)

If you’re as inspired as we are by some of the data and the implications on your own political campaign, check out the “Four Screens to Victory” site to spark some ideas of your own and see how you can make the web work for your campaign.

David Kaufman, Google Politics & Elections Team, recently watched "i like ike"


Friday, July 27, 2012

[G] New Challenges in Computer Science Research

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Google Research Blog: New Challenges in Computer Science Research

Posted by Jeff Walz, Head of University Relations

Yesterday afternoon at the 2012 Computer Science Faculty Summit, there was a round of lightning talks addressing some of the research problems faced by Google across several domains. The talks pointed out some of the biggest challenges emerging from increasing digital interaction, which is this year’s Faculty Summit theme.

Research Scientist Vivek Kwatra kicked things off with a talk about video stabilization on YouTube. The popularity of mobile devices with cameras has led to an explosion in the amount of video people capture, which can often be shaky. Vivek and his team have found algorithmic approaches to make casual videos look more professional by simulating professional camera moves. Their stabilization technology vastly improves the quality of amateur footage.

Next, Ed Chi (Research Scientist) talked about social media focusing on the experimental circle model that characterizes Google+. Ed is particularly interested in how social interaction on the web can be designed to mimic live communication. Circles on Google+ allow a user to manage their audience and share content in a targeted fashion, which reflects face-to-face interaction. Ed discussed how, from an HCI perspective, the challenge going forward is the need to consider the trinity of social media: context, audience, content.

John Wilkes, Principal Software Engineer, talked about cluster management at Google and the challenges of building a new cluster manager-- that is, an operating system for a fleet of machines. Everything at Google is big and a consequence of operating at such tremendous scale is that machines are bound to fail. John’s team is working to make things easier for internal users enabling our ability to respond to more system requests. There are several hard problems in this domain, such as issues with configuration, making it as easy as possible to run a binary, increasing failure tolerance, and helping internal users understand their own needs as well as the behavior and performance of their system in our complicated distributed environment.

Research Scientist and coffee connoisseur Alon Halevy took to the podium to confirm that he did indeed author an empirical book on coffee, and also talked with attendees about structured data on the web. Structured data is comprised of hundreds of millions of (relatively small) tables of data, and Alon’s work is focused on enabling data enthusiasts to discover and visualize those data sets. Great possibilities open up when people start combining data sets in meaningful ways, which inspired the creation of Fusion Tables. An example is a map made in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, that shows natural disaster data alongside the locations of the world’s nuclear plants. Moving forward, Alon’s team will continue to think about interesting things that can be done with data, and the techniques needed to distinguish good data from bad data.

To wrap up the session, Praveen Paritosh did a brief, but deep dive into the Knowledge Graph, an intelligent model that understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another-- things, not strings-- which launched earlier this year.

The Google Faculty Summit continued today with more talks, and breakout sessions centered on our theme of digital interaction. Check back for additional blog posts in the coming days.


[G] Education in the Cloud

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Google Research Blog: Education in the Cloud

Posted by Andrea Held, University Relations

In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a major transition from stand-alone applications that run on desktop computers to applications running in the cloud. Unfortunately, many computer science students don’t have the opportunity to learn and work in the cloud due to a lack of resources in traditional undergrad programs. Without this access students are limited to the resources their school can provide.

So today, we’re announcing a new award program: the Google App Engine Education Awards.
We are excited because Google App Engine can teach students how to build sophisticated large-scale systems in the cloud without needing access to a large physical network.

Google App Engine can be used to build mobile or social applications, traditional browser-based applications, or stand-alone web services that scale to millions of users with ease. The Google App Engine infrastructure and storage tools are useful for collecting and analyzing educational data, building a learning management system to organize courses, or implementing a teacher forum for exchanging ideas and practices. All of these adaptations of the Google App Engine platform will use the same infrastructure that powers Google.

We invite teachers at universities across the United States to submit a proposal describing how to use Google App Engine for their course development, educational research or tools, or for student projects. Selected proposals will receive $1,000 in App Engine credits.

If you teach at an accredited college, university or community college in the US, we encourage you to apply. You can submit a proposal by filling out this form. The application deadline is midnight PST August 31, 2012.


[G] Simpler, more powerful tools to reconnect with your customers—and reach new ones

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Inside AdWords: Simpler, more powerful tools to reconnect with your customers—and reach new ones

A few years back, we introduced interest based advertising, including remarketing, as a way to reach the right audience with your message and re-engage with customers who have visited your site.

Since then, clients have seen great results - more engagement, better ROI and higher sales. At the same time, remarketing is helping our publishers and is funding content online. And with simple tools like Why this Ad?, the Ads Preferences Manager and Mute This Ad, we’re giving users increased control over the ads they see on Google and across the web.

In response to our clients’ feedback, we’ve been working to make these solutions even better: simplifying the process of getting started with remarketing, giving you more flexibility in managing your remarketing lists and adding new ways to connect with your target audience.

Some specific improvements that are starting to roll out:
  • Smarter, more flexible ways to manage remarketing: Managing your remarketing lists (or getting started with remarketing) is easier and more flexible than ever. We’ve upgraded the AdWords remarketing tag so you only need to place it once across your entire site. You can then define as many lists as you like in AdWords—for example, for pages where the URL contains the word “electronics.” For Google Analytics clients, remarketing today involves multiple tags. We are simplifying this, so that a small edit to your Analytics tag will soon enable you to create remarketing lists right from your Analytics interface. Like lists created with the AdWords remarketing tag, these lists can be used to run campaigns on the Google Display Network. For more details on what’s rolling out in the the coming weeks, check here for the new AdWords remarketing tag and here for Google Analytics.

  • Reaching the right audience: Remarketing delivers great results, but we think there’s even more we can do to help you reach potential customers and connect with a wide audience. For example:
    • Reaching similar audiences: In the coming weeks, we’re gradually adding a new option to enable you to show ads to audiences that are similar to those on your remarketing lists, but who may not have visited your site yet. 
    •  Reaching the right audience with search ads: We’re expanding a test we’ve been running for search ads (described here). This beta allows you to customize your search campaigns, based on your AdWords remarketing lists. It's being made available to clients who have a managed account; reach out to your representative if you're interested.
When online advertising is working at its best, businesses are able to efficiently and effectively connect with their customers, publishers are able to fund their great content, and users see ads that are useful and compelling. We’re committed to investing in the tools—like the ones we’ve discussed today—that can help make this possible.

Posted by Brad Bender, Director, Product Management

[G] Imagery Update: Explore your favorite places in high-resolution

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Google Lat Long: Imagery Update: Explore your favorite places in high-resolution

In our continuing effort to build the most comprehensive and accurate view of the world, the Google Earth and Maps Imagery team just published another extensive catalog of new imagery. This week we have exciting new updates to both our high resolution aerial and satellite imagery and our 45° imagery.

New high resolution aerial and satellite imagery:
This week we published new high resolution aerial and satellite imagery for 25 cities and 72 countries/regions. Our updates are now available in both Google Earth and Maps. We’ve highlighted a couple interesting locations below:

Olympic Park and Village, Stratford, London, United Kingdom

We’ll start in the United Kingdom, where the London 2012 Olympic Games opens this Friday. We’ve released new satellite imagery taken this past May of the Olympic Park and Village. In the image above, you can see the final construction touches being added to the open-air Olympic Stadium (lower right).

Perspective view of Bryce Canyon, Utah

Even if you aren’t a geologist, you’ll enjoy exploring the new imagery for Bryce Canyon, Utah - famous for its text-book example of hoodoos. The image above is a perspective view of aerial imagery taken in June.

New 45° imagery available for 28 cities:
This week our 45° imagery update includes coverage for 21 U.S. cities and 7 international locations. Below are some great examples from Munich, Germany, and Chicago, Illinois:

The Frauenkirche, a symbol of the Bavarian capital city - Munich, Germany

With approximately 1.4 million inhabitants, Munich is the capital of Bavaria and the third largest city in Germany. The image above shows the Frauenkirche, a symbol of the Bavarian capital city.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower - Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a an industrial metropolitan city with an impressive skyline that really stands out with our new 45° imagery. The image above features the Trump International Hotel and Tower, the second-tallest building in the United States and a prominent Chicago landmark.

Cities with new high resolution 45° imagery:
United States: Anderson, CA; Beech Island - New Ellenton, GA; Cape Girardeau, MO; Carthage, MO; Chicago, IL; Clarksville (outskirts), TN; Columbus - Reynoldsburg, OH; Dayton, OH; Everett, WA; Galena, KS; Idaho Falls, ID; Joplin, MO; Lafayette (outskirts), LA; Lancaster, CA; Louisville, KY; Lowell, MA - Nashua, NH; Pittsburgh, PA; Pueblo (outskirts), CO; Redding, CA; Springfield, IL; Yuba City, CA.
International: Birmingham, UK; Catania, Italy; Denia, Spain; London, United Kingdom; Meyrin - Vernier, Switzerland; Munich, Germany; Neuchatel, Switzerland.

Areas with new high resolution aerial imagery:
United States: Antelope Wells NM; Bryce Canyon UT; Green Bay WI; Huron, SD; Hutchinson, KS; Olympia WA; Park Hills, MO; Peach Springs, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Placerville, CA; Riverside, CA; Rosenfeld, TX; Waverly, OH.
International: Wiener Neustadt, Austria; Alicante, Spain; Denia, Spain; Gandia, Spain; Las Rozas, Spain; Lugo, Spain; Santander, Spain; Sueca, Spain; Vitoria, Spain; Bern, Switzerland; Geneva, Switzerland; Nyon, Switzerland.

Countries/regions with new high resolution satellite updates:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Greenland, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

If you’d like to receive an email notification for the latest Google Earth and Maps Imagery team updates for your favorite areas, we’ve got just the tool: our Follow Your World application. Happy exploring!

Posted by Bernd Steinert, Geo Data Specialist

[G] Bringing the Global Games to a New Global Stadium -- YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Bringing the Global Games to a New Global Stadium -- YouTube

In 2008, we began showing clips of the Beijing Games. In 2010, we provided archival content of past Winter Games. This year, we’re taking it one step further by bringing the world’s largest sporting event to the world’s biggest stage and we’re doing it live.

New Places 

For the first time in history, the Summer Games will be live-streamed in HD through YouTube: 

  • United States: YouTube will power NBC’s online video experience on and viewers can watch any event live. You can also access pre-game clips on the NBC Olympics YouTube channel

  • 64 Territories: Millions of Olympic fans from across 64 territories in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will have a chance to watch the games live from London on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) YouTube Channel at

  • Canada: Canadians can check out in-depth coverage of the Games including, highlights, analysis, athlete bios, and more at 

  • Brazil: In partnership with ESPN Brasil, Brazilians can tune in for behind the scenes content on, while watching Olympic footage on

New Perspectives

Just bringing you the Games isn’t enough. We want to immerse you in the action by offering full coverage of the US Team’s experience, including interviews with athletes, tips from coaches and an insider’s look of the success stories from the Games. US viewers can watch all of the behind the scenes footage on

And you don't need to cross the pond to connect with Team USA. Get to know six breakout athletes on Team Chobani. You can even support Team Visa athletes around the world by viewing, liking and cheering for them on Visa’s YouTube channel. Check out their athlete training videos here

Additionally, there will be more than 50 YouTube partners on the ground in London creating content around the Games that fans never get to see. Creators Invade London 2012 starts here! If it were up to us, Dude Perfect would win the gold for trick basketball shots!

New Features 

Catch all the excitement of the Games from the completely redesigned live streaming player with tons of new features:

  • See all the live stream at any time: From the IOC YouTube channel, live recording lets you see any part of the event you missed. For United States viewers, NBC’s YouTube channel also offers chapter markers to let you jump to key moments, and an instant replay button that shows the last 10 seconds again. 

  • More video and audio to choose from: Select from multiple camera angles within a livestream, as well as English or Spanish audio on NBC’s live stream. 

  • Watch how you want: See all these features and more on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet, with a livestream that adapts to your connection speed to show the best experience possible.

  • Keep track of your favorite games: Get reminders of your favorite games with the NBC Olympics Scheduler app on the Chrome web store. 

For those of you that can’t wait, get into the spirit and begin this year’s journey early with past footage, key moments and a sneak peak into the 2012 Games here

Let the games begin! 

Tommy O’Hare, sports content partnerships manager, recently watched “Olympics Trick Shots - DudePerfect


[G] A simpler way to re-connect with your website visitors

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Google Analytics Blog: A simpler way to re-connect with your website visitors

Google Analytics has always provided powerful tools to help you better understand your website visitors and improve their experience. Some of you have also started using insights from your website to optimize your remarketing campaigns and re-engage customers who have visited your site. But this has traditionally required you to add a second tag to your site for remarketing, in addition to your existing Google Analytics tag. To simplify the process, we’re rolling out Remarketing with Google Analytics in beta, to help you make the most of those valuable insights.

Remarketing with Google Analytics helps you create remarketing lists based on certain audiences who visit your website and show interest in your products, without having to tag your site twice. This can help you more easily create remarketing campaigns to show ads across the Google Display Network (GDN). 

We’ll be rolling this beta feature out in waves by the end of the summer to all Google Analytics users who are account administrators with at least one linked Google AdWords account. Once the feature is available to you, you can learn about the steps to enable it in your account by clicking on the "Admin" tab in the upper right corner of Google Analytics, then look for the tab for "Remarketing Lists.”

Remarketing can help improve the relevancy of the ads that users see online. We’re also committed to giving users increased control over the ads they see on Google and across the web with tools like Mute This Ad, the Ads Preferences Manager, and the Google Analytics Opt-out.

To learn more about Google’s suite of remarketing tools, please visit the AdWords blog here.

Happy analyzing... and happy remarketing!

Posted by Jesse Savage, Product Manager

[G] Big Pictures with Big Messages

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Google Research Blog: Big Pictures with Big Messages

Posted by Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations

Google’s Eighth Annual Computer Science Faculty Summit opened today in Mountain View with a fascinating talk by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, leaders of the data visualization group at our Cambridge office. They provided insight into their design process in visualizing big data, by highlighting Google+ Ripples and a map of the wind they created.

To preface his explanation of the design process, Martin shared that his team “wants visualization to be ‘G-rated,’ showing the full detail of the data - there’s no need to simplify it, if complexity is done right.” Martin discussed how their wind map started as a personal art project, but has gained interest particularly among groups that are interested in information on the wind (sailors, surfers, firefighters). The map displays surface wind data from the US National Digital Forecast Database and updates hourly. You can zoom around the United States looking for where the winds are fastest - often around lakes or just offshore - or check out the gallery to see snapshots of the wind from days past.

Fernanda discussed the development of Google+ Ripples, a visualization that shows how news spreads on Google+. The visualization shows spheres of influence and different patterns of spread. For example, someone might post a video to their Google+ page and if it goes viral, we’ll see several circles in the visualization. This depicts the influence of different individuals sharing content, both in terms of the number of their followers and the re-shares of the video, and has revealed that individuals are at times more influential than organizations in the social media domain.

Martin and Fernanda closed with two important lessons in data visualization: first, don’t “dumb down” the data. If complexity is handled correctly and in interesting ways, our users find the details appealing and find their own ways to interact with and expand upon the data. Second, users like to see their personal world in a visualization. Being able to see the spread of a Google+ post, or zoom in to see the wind around one’s town is what makes a visualization personal and compelling-- we call this the “I can see my house from here” feature.

The Faculty Summit will continue through Friday, July 27 with talks by Googlers and faculty guests as well as breakout sessions on specific topics related to this year’s theme of digital interactions. We will be looking closely at how computation and bits have permeated our everyday experiences via smart phones, wearable computing, social interactions, and education.

We will be posting here throughout the summit with updates and news as it happens.


[G] Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search

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Official Google Blog: Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search

Unlike searching on a desktop or laptop computer, when you're searching on a touch-screen mobile device it’s often inconvenient to type. So we strive to give you a variety of ways to interact with Google, be it by speaking your queries, getting results before you finish typing, or searching by image. Now there’s a new way for you to interact with Google: Handwrite for web search on mobile phones and tablets.

Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet. Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen—there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.

Getting started is easy: go to in your mobile browser, tap on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen and enable “Handwrite.” Note that after you've saved the setting, you may need to refresh the homepage to see the feature.

On tablets, the Search settings are available as an option behind the gear icon.

Once the feature is enabled, tap the Handwrite icon on the bottom right corner of your screen to activate the writing surface. Write a few letters and you’ll see autocomplete options appear below the search box. If one of the options is what you’re looking for, just tap it to search. For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box. Since you can write anywhere, you don’t have to look back and forth repeatedly from the keyboard to the search box.

For more tips and tricks on how to use Handwrite, see our Help Center article. To make accessing faster, be sure to bookmark it and add it to your home screen.

We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box. Handwrite is experimental, and works better in some browsers than others—on Android devices, it works best in Chrome. For now, we’ve enabled Handwrite for iOS5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0+ tablets—in 27 languages.

Have fun with this new way of searching!

Posted by Rui Ueyama, Software Engineer

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

[G] Super fast fiber for Kansas City

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Official Google Blog: Super fast fiber for Kansas City

Our goal is to build products that will help improve our users’ lives. And when it comes to Internet access, it's clear what provides a better user experience:
  • Fast is better than slow. On the web, nobody wants to wait for a video to buffer or a website to load.
  • Abundance is better than scarcity. There’s a plethora of rich content available online—and it’s increasingly only available to people who have the speeds and means to access it.
  • Choice is better than no choice. Competition and choice help make products better for users.
With that in mind, we embarked on a journey to bring ultra-high speeds to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. And today, we’re excited to announce Google Fiber. Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the web. Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.

When we asked people what they value in their Internet service, the majority of them simply said, “choice.” So we listened. Kansas Citians will choose where we install and when. We’ve divided Kansas City into small communities we call “fiberhoods.” To get service, each fiberhood needs a critical mass of their residents to pre-register. The fiberhoods with the highest pre-registration percentage will get Google Fiber first. Households in Kansas City can pre-register for the next six weeks, and they can rally their neighbors to pre-register, too. Once the pre-registration period is over, residents of the qualified fiberhoods will be able to choose between three different packages (including TV).

It’s easy to forget how revolutionary high-speed Internet access was in the 1990s. Not only did broadband kill the screeching sound of dial-up, it also spurred innovation, helping to create amazing new services as well as new job opportunities for many thousands of Americans. But today the Internet is not as fast as it should be. While high speed technology exists, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is still only 5.8 megabits per second (Mbps)—slightly faster than the maximum speed available 16 years ago when residential broadband was first introduced. Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that’s spurred innovation over the last decade, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to work on.

To find out more about the different service packages and the pre-registration process see our Google Fiber Blog, which we’ll regularly update with new information over the coming weeks. This is an exciting new project for Google and we can’t wait to get homes connected to Google Fiber in Kansas City—because we’re pretty certain that what people do with a gig will be awesome.

Posted by Milo Medin, Vice President, Access Services

(Cross-posted from the Google Fiber Blog)

[G] A more accurate starting point in Google Maps

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Google Lat Long: A more accurate starting point in Google Maps

Maps users have told us that when they embark on a journey, they often want to start from their current location. That’s why today we’re making Google Maps more useful by automatically zooming into your city as the starting point for your search. Now you can dive right in and discover the local businesses, restaurants and attractions near you, without having to manually enter your location. Much easier and faster.

We show the details of your starting point in the left panel. And if for some reason your starting point isn’t correct you can easily add your street address, zip code, city and state, or country by clicking on the Correct it link.

Location information displayed on left with option to correct it.

For those of you who’ve already set a Default Location with Google Maps, we hope you’ll appreciate this smart new feature that we hope will make Google Maps easier to use for your next adventure.

Posted by Andrey Salaev, Software Engineer, Google Maps

[G] 3D imagery now available on iPad and iPhone

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Google Lat Long: 3D imagery now available on iPad and iPhone

Today, we’re happy to announce the availability of 3D imagery for Google Earth on the new iPad, iPad 2 and iPhone 4S.

A map must be comprehensive and accurate no matter where you are or what device you use. We also believe maps can be useful in ways you might not have imagined. With today’s release of Google Earth for iOS you can literally fly through breathtaking 3D city landscapes and images and follow virtual tours of places you’ve never been -- all with a simple swipe of your fingertip. It’s a new, and I think magical way to explore the world in which we live.

The growing list of 3D cities include Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Lawrence (Kan.), Long Beach (Ca.), Los Angeles, Portland (Ore.), San Diego, Santa Cruz, Tampa, Tucson, and the San Francisco Bay Area (including the Peninsula and East Bay) as well as Rome, Italy. We’ll keep building and releasing 3D imagery for new locations as fast as we can and by the end of the year we aim to have coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people.

Also new in this release is a “tour guide” to show you interesting places to explore. We’ve put together short tours of thousands of famous places and historical sites across the globe so it’s easier than ever to discover amazing places. Just pull up the tab at the bottom of the screen to open the tour guide. Each image highlights a tours or place of interest in the area you are looking. Click on an item and you will be flown there. As you fly in and around the sites, snippets from Wikipedia provide additional information about the location. It’s like having a local expert right beside you! The tour guide is available for all iOS devices running iOS 4.2 and newer.

To start exploring, download the latest version of Google Earth for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch from the Apple App Store today.

Posted by Peter Birch, Google Earth Product Manager

Thursday, July 26, 2012

[G] Analytics Advocate Justin Cutroni Answers Your Burning Questions (Part 2)

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Analytics Blog: Analytics Advocate Justin Cutroni Answers Your Burning Questions (Part 2)

A version of the following post originally appeared on Justin Cutroni’s Analytics Talk blog.

It’s that time again! Time to take your analytics questions (via Google+) and provide a useful answer.

This edition includes information about such topics as:
  • Tracking across an iFrame
  • A bug with the Ad Content secondary dimension
  • Integrating Google Analytics and Google AdSense
  • Ecommerce reporting based on item category/group
Your Analytics Questions, answered:
Cross-Domain iFrame Question from Michael Walker:

Implementation Question – I have 2x domains lets call them dom1.comand – each have a their own Google Analytics (GA) account.

The problem I am having though is that is as follows – we have a form on that is pulled in from dom2 via an i-frame. the code within the form fires off 2x custom variables to its dom2 GA account. The outer frame on dom1 fires off all the incoming traffic sources and more importantly the campaign data.

Now what I need to do is I need to have the dom2′s GA account filled with the same campaign values – so that I can tie the campaign names to the 2x custom variables. Now I do have some restrictions that forbid me to set the custom variables to dom1′s GA account as even though this would be the simplest way.

So which of the following options should I go down.

1) Set up on the master frame – a second tracker that fires off the campaign data to dom2′s GA account. Leaving dom1′s GA code in place. Also leaving the code in the dom2s frame as is and hope that the custom variables get set as they are ?

2) Attempt when calling the i-frame page to pass all the campaign data in the URL string and hope that the GA code within dom2 recognises it and passes the campaign data?
I have tried using the GA help + forums to no avail and am really stumped on this one.

Please help Justin… even if its the worst set up ever I have to get it working :-(

Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Michael.

So it sounds like you need to have the campaign data and the custom variable data together, in one account. I’m assuming that the custom variables are visitor level custom variables and are stored in a cookie (which makes it hard to combine them with the other GA data).

The problem with option #1 is that you’ll start to inflate the data in the GA account. You’ll have 2 sets of cookies for dom2, thus doubling your visits and visitors.

You could go with option #2: cross domain tracking through an iFrame. But it can be very hard to do because you need to P3P header.

What about an alternate solution? Kind of a “hybrid” solution. Why not pass some special query parameters in the iFrame URL for dom2 and then tweak the GA tracking code on to use those parameters?

You can create three query parameters that represent the campaign information in Google Analytics. You can name the parameters anything you want, maybe camp, med and source. You’ll have to populate the variables dynamically. You can mine the data from the the __utmz tracking cookie.

This method will help you avoid cross domain tracking via an iFrame and the overcounting issue.
Canonical URL Tracking Question from Alex Rapp:

What is the best method to track canonical URLs through GA? Utilizing the (opt_pageURL) function or _gaq.push(['_trackPageview', canonical_link]);?

I feel as though they may accomplish the same end result, but seem to go about it in a different manner.

Thanks for your help.

Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Alex.

For those that don’t know what a canonical URL is the one true URL for a piece of content. Many times large sites might have multiple versions of a URL for the same content. Sometimes this can be caused by tracking parameters or other query parameters.

Alex, your idea of passing a URI into the _trackPageview method is a very good one. And it’s a solution that people use all the time. One way that I’ve seen it done is that people will include the URI value in a data layer, then pull that value into the _trackPageview call. It’s a scalable solution that normalizes data.

I’ve also seen people use an Advanced Filter to capture the canonical parts of a URL and re-write the data in Google Analytics. For example, if you’ve got a lot of query parameters, and this causes a lot of duplicate URLs, then you can use an advanced filter, like the one in the image below, to normalize your URLs.

Google Analytics Advanced Filter for normalizing a URL
I personally like the data layer/code approach. It’s more scalable and less susceptible to breaking. But ultimately you’ll need to pick the solution that you can implement.
Ecommerce Tracking Question from Alex Rapp:

I’m having an issue with an ecommerce implementation. During the test phase, I am able to pass through values from the “add_trans” portion of the code, such as: order id & total.

However, I am not seeing anything populate from the “add_item” portion, mainly SKU & quantity.

What am I doing wrong?
Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Alex.

The _addItem code should send back gif requests, one for each item. I would first check the actual gif requests using some type of tool, like Charles, or a browser extension, like the developer tools in Chrome.

Look for GIF requests with utmt=item, this is the item data being sent to Google Analytics.

If you’re not seeing the correct GIF requests sent to the Google Analytics servers then check for syntax errors in the JavaScript. I’ve seen code where a missing comma or some other character will break the JavaScript.
Also make sure that you’re not calling the _trackTrans method before the _addItem method.
Content Grouping Question from Christopher Johnson:

We would like to track page views for individual meta tags on the page, for example, we have a index.html page tagged with Corn, Soybeans and Wheat. What’s the best way to run a report showing all page views for pages tagged with Corn?

We have looked at custom variables but might have pages with 5-10 tags per page.
Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Christopher.

One answer would be to take a look at Google Analytics Premium which provides 50 custom variables.

Another way is, if you need to attach more information to a page, and custom variables are not scaling, you could try to use events or you could add more information into the URL.

I like the event option. You’ve got almost a limitless number of events available and you can create a custom hierarchy that will help you segment the data in different ways. Look to use the Category, Action and Label attributes in creative ways to group your data logically.

I also want to mention that this is a very common request. There are a lot of users, some ecommerce, some publishers, that need to ability to group their content together. And while Custom Vars exist you are limited to 5 per page. The 
Google Analytics team is looking at ways to make this type of functionality better in Google Analytics.

Filtering Question from Eric Bryant:

Is there a glitch in the new Analytics that throws that error when you try to filter by Ad Content? It happens especially when the Primary Dimension is a City or Landing Page, I think.

Justin’s Answer:

Thank for the question Eric.

YES, looks like this is be a bug. Hopefully it will be resolved ASAP.

“Resource Not Available” Question from Dean Shaw:

Justin -
We have been seeing increasing incidences of GA not being available. The exact language is “Resource is not available. Please try again later”.

Related, we have also seen that time out messages when we try and pull data for time-lines longer than a few months.
Finally, when we drill-down on reports we will encounter a flat-line.

This is all in the new interface and cannot be replicated in the old interface where we don’t encounter any of these issues.

Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Dean.

Whenever you query a large date range, and you have a very high volume of data, you might see some of the effects that you’ve mentioned. The Resource not Available message, while delightfully vague, usually indicates that you’re requesting a HUGE volume of data and that the query is taking a long time to retrieve that information.

I should note that there are a lot of improvements that are happening at Google Analytics right now, many of them have to do with the processing of the data and report generation. Hopefully Resource Not Found will begin to appear less frequently.

(not set) Question from Alaa Batayneh:

I have 2 questions.

1) Why do I very often see (not set) whether in traffic sources or any other sections.

2) Is it true that Google Analytics does not record 40% of traffic coming to a site, since it consists of hackers, comment spammers, page scrapper …etc ?


Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Alaa.

Question #1: The value (not set) indicates that a certain dimension of data, like keyword, city, region, etc. can not be identified. For example, if Google Analytics tries to identify a city based on the visitor’s IP address, but the lookup fails, the report will contain a line item for (not set).

Here’s a quick, partial, list of where you might see (not set) and what it means:
  • Geographic reports: (not set) indicates that Google Analytics could not identify the visitor’s geographic location
  • All Traffic Sources: (not set) may indicate that some link tagging parameters are not present. For example, Feedburner often automatically tags links with a source of Feedburner but often omits a medium, thus causing (not set)
  • Page Titles Report: (not set) indicates that the document.title DOM object is not set. This means that GA can not collect the title for the page
  • Devices: (not set) indicates that there is no User Agent that GA can use to identify the device
In addition to “missing” data, (not set) can also indicate that you are trying to combine two dimensions that don’t have any true relationship.

For example, if you are looking at the All Traffic report, and you try to set a secondary Dimension of Keyword, you’ll get (not set) for all of those rows that are not search related (ie referrals, direct, etc.)

Question #2: No, that is not correct. Google Analytics will track the traffic to your site as long as it executes JavaScript tracking code. There are some sampling limits that are imposed on large sites. For example, you are limited to 10M hits/month in the free version of Google Analytics). But Google Analytics does not “pre-qualify” the traffic and drop 40%.

0 Result Searches Question from José Dávila:

Hi Justin,
I hope you are doing well and enjoying your time at Google. I have a couple of questions:

1) Do you know if GA regular expressions support negative look ahead? I am talking about something such as: ^(?!.*string-here)

When I tested it you get an alert. However some forums mention it is possible.

2) How would you track “zero results” searches when you use Google Site Search, given that the CSE results are loaded on an iframe with content from a different domain, so not accessible by traversing the DOM. I have an idea for a solution, however I wanted to know if there is an easier way to do it.


Justin's Answer:

Thanks for the question Jose.

Question #1: Unfortunately this is not fully supported in the entire Google Analytics interface. And things that are not fully supportedI’d avoid it and look for an alternate solution.

Question #2: This is a hard one. I’m going to assume you’re using a fairly standard implementation of theGoogle Custom Search Engine and that you’re also using the automatic Google Analytics integration.

I believe the Google Custom Search engine uses a dynamically generated DIV, not an iFrame.

When you use the Google CSE and Google Analytics integration the CSE code will generate a virtual pageview for the current page. This virtual pageview will include a query parameter for the search term. You could try to untangle all of the CSE JavaScript code and look for the line that generates the virtual pageview. Unfortunately wading through all the CSE code can be a lot of work!

Another option would be to parse the DOM when a search happens on your site.

When the Google CSE returns zero results there is normally an HTML DIV tag that looks something like this:
No Results

You need to dynamically parse the DOM when someone submits a search and identify the above DIV. You can probably simplify this by using JQuery. If you find the above code then you can send off some data to Google Analytics and record the zero-result search.

In this case, I would probably create an Event rather than use the zero-result tracking technique. The reason is that sending a virtual pageview, with a parameter for the zero-result search, will generate an additional search in the Google Analytics reports. You’ll be double-counting some searches.
Sorry I don’t have the exact code for you. I’d love to hear your solution as well!

Product Reporting Question from Steven Domingue:

I have a question about regular expressions in the Product Performance Report in GA. Is there a character limit in the field where you place the RegEx? I am attempting to do some reporting on product sales associated with emails, banners on my site, etc., and some of the product groupings we feature are basically mini catalogs with 200+ SKUs. I wanted to make sure that if I dump a list of 300 SKUs (between 2500 and 3000 characters) it will capture them all in the report.

Justin’s Answer:

Well, that’s actually a hard question to answer. The standard table filter will not take a regular expression. So you need to use the Advanced filter. This field will take a max of 20 characters. But you can add up to 50 conditions to your filter.
To be honest, creating large, complicated regular expressions in Google Analytics is not scalable. While you can use it for a quick ad-hoc analysis, I would look for a more permanent solution.

What about using the Product Category dimensions rather than the product ID? It obviously depends on if you are setting the product category, but it would totally work.

Google Analytics Product Performance By Category with a Source/Medium secondary Dimension.
Another option might be using a page level custom variable to group your products together into groups? Then use the custom variable in the Product Performance report. It will require some coding, but if you are looking to do this type of analysis a lot it may be worthwhile.

Cross Domain Tracking Question from Rasmus Sellberg:

We’re about to cross-domain track a very short and good domain name with multiple subdomains, e.g. www.xx.yy, forum.xx.yy, and so on.

We use _setDomainName(“xx.yy”), and it works like a charm on all browsers but IE.

Unfortunately, IE does not allow cookies on short domains on the form xx.yy (to avoid security issues on all sites, for instance). No data at all is recorded for IE browsers…

If we use _setDomainName(“www.xx.yy”), the cookies aren’t available on forum.xx.yy, and vice versa.

What should we do, given that neither using _link everywhere nor changing the domain name is an option? Any best practices for really short domain names?


Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Rasmus.

Yes, this is a known issue and unfortunately there is no good solution. It’s a limitation of Internet Explorer…. insert snarky comment here.

Unfortunately you don’t have many options. You can use _link on all of the URLs. And if it’s a big site you may want to use some type of JQuery auto tagging script. Or the other solution is to move the sub-domain content to subdirectories on the main domain. This may be very hard to do, but at least you avoid all the JavaScript coding.

I also want to mention that the Google Analytics team is working on a new solution to cross domain tracking that will solve this problem. It will also make cross-domain tracking better for the entire world :)

AdWords Metrics Question from

When viewing our adwords campaign data in Google analytics our Advertising Cost metric is reporting correctly, but when we try to create a custom keyword level report in GA the cost metric is all zeros? Are we unable to track adwords cost data at the keyword level in GA? 

Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question.

You should be able to use AdWords metrics, like cost, CTR and CPC, in GA custom reports. I’ve done it as recently as today.

BUT, cost metrics can only work with a few dimensions, mostly the AdWords related dimensions. If you are trying to use any dimensions that are NOT AdWords dimensions you might get all zeros.

AdSense Question from Reid Simonton:

I may be a bit late, but have to ask as this is an issue I’ve been struggling with for 2+ years – linking our AdSense account to our Analytics account. I understand the process, however here’s what I actually see:

1. Go to Content > AdSense > Overview in GA, see “This report requires AdSense to be enabled for this profile”. Hmm, I’ve already done that.

2. But I’ll try again – click the link provided there for the instructions. Instructions state, “Open either the Overview or Advanced Reports page, and find the link that invites you to integrate your accounts”, but there is no such link in the AdSense panel (presumably because I’ve previously gone through this step). Instead I see a link in the upper right corner of AdSense stating, ” View performance in Google Analytics”. Would seem to indicate the accounts are linked, right?

3. Click that link, it takes me to my Analytics home page (showing my two profiles). I go into the one I’ve attempted previously tried to link w/ AdSense, and (repeat step 1, above).
Something’s clearly broken. Been trying to resolve this for years, have posted bunches of forum posts, etc., but no luck. Incredibly frustrating! Any assistance would be enormously appreciated.

Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the question Reid.

I’ve seen that problem before. An infinite loop and it can be frustrating!

1. Log into GA. Make sure you log in with the same account that you use to access AdSense.
2. Go to the Admin section
3. Click on the Data Sources tab for your account and look for the AdSense section.
4. Click on the Link Account button. You should get a little window that asks which account and profiles you want to apply your AdSense data to.

Connecting Google AdSense and Google Analytics
The AdSense code and Analytics code MUST be installed on all the same pages. If you do not have the Google Analytics Tracking code on all pages that have the Adsense code, page impressions and clicks cannot be accurately recorded.

AdWords Auto Tagging Question from Steven Nguyen:


I have 2 questions on about Analytics.

1. I have autotagging set up and someone wants to add parameters to the ad as well. Would the new parameters override the autotagging or mess up the reporting in anyway?

2. I want to track lead submissions, sign ups, etc…but it does not redirect you to a “thank you” page after you complete the action, a dialog box pops up. I want to use a destination goal but the dialog box does not change URLs. Is there a way to track it as a goal without adding a “thank you” page?
If you could help, that would be great. Thanks.


Justin’s Answer:

Thanks for the questions Steven.

Question #1. No, AdWords auto-tagging will work with your existing parameters. The Google Analytics auto-tagging parameter, named gclid, will play nice with your existing query parameters :)

Question #2. Yes, there are ways to work around a thank-you page that does not have a unique URL.

I’m going to make the assumption that when someone submits a form the page does change. It’s just the URL that stays the same. In this scenario you have a couple of options. Choose the one that works best for you.

You can use an Event to track this new window, and then set that event up as a goal. An event is a way to track visitor interactions with your site.

You’ll need to add some additional JavaScript to track when the window pops open. It might look something like this:
_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Goals’, ‘Submit Form’, ‘Lead Form’, 100]);

In the above code the value of 100 is the value of the lead form. That’s something that I arbitrarily chose. But if you can do some lead scoring, and enter that data into the code, then you’ll get some AMAZING revenue metrics in Google Analytics.

Once you have the code on your site you can use the Event data to your goal. For the above event, the goal settings would be something like this:
Setting up an Event as a Google Analytics Goal
Thanks everyone! Those were great. What a variety of questions. Stay tuned, we’ll do this again next month -- be sure to circle Google Analytics on Google+ to find out when you can ask a question.

Posted by Google Analytics Advocate Justin Cutroni