Friday, January 25, 2013

[G] Digital Analytics Association Awards Are Back

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Analytics Blog: Digital Analytics Association Awards Are Back

It’s that time of year again - award season. No, not Hollywood awards, Digital Analytics awards! 

The Digital Analytics Association has announced its list of nominees for the DAA Awards of Excellence. These awards celebrate the outstanding contribution to our profession of individuals, agencies, vendors and practitioners.

This year we’re honored to be nominated for two awards.


Google Tag Manager has been nominated for New Technology of the Year. Launched in October 2012, Google Tag Manager has helped many companies simplify the tag management process.

Google, as an organization, has been nominated in the category Agency/Vendor of the year. 

We’re incredibly humbled by these nominations - thank you. Our goal is to provide all businesses with the ability to improve their performance using data. We’re excited to be part of this community and we look forward to an even more amazing future.

In addition, a few Googlers have been nominated for individual awards:

Eduardo Cereto Carvalho and Krista Seiden have been nominated for Digital Analytics Rising Star.

Our Analytics Advocate, Justin Cutroni and our Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, who travel the world sharing Analytics love have each been nominated as Most Influential Industry Contributor (individual).

If you’re a DAA member make sure you vote by February 6. Winners will be announced at the 2013 DAA Gala in San Francisco on April 16. Tickets are available now.

Posted by the Google Analytics Team

URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2013/01/digital-analytics-association-awards.html

[G] Quixote Studios helps Hollywood visions come alive with Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Quixote Studios helps Hollywood visions come alive with Google Apps

Posted by Bill Schechtman, IT Director at Quixote Studios

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Bill Schechtman, IT Director at Quixote Studios, a Los Angeles-based company that rents stages, vehicles and production supplies for photo shoots and movie and TV productions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Quixote Studios, we work with the bleeding edge of American pop culture. We’ve hosted pop legends like Madonna, brought Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” to life, and stood in for countless precinct offices, crime scenes and killers’ hideouts on the CBS show “Criminal Minds.” We have more than 200 employees at six locations giving studios what they need to make movies, helping photographers and fashion houses make their clothes look stunning, and playing a part in bringing the television shows you love to the small screen every week.

We work in a forward-leaning industry, but until we moved to Google Apps for Business, we worked with painfully outdated technology. Our server was unreliable and our employees couldn’t access email from their smartphones. Fixing these and a host of other problems was my first priority when I joined Quixote Studios as IT Director two years ago. We considered Microsoft Exchange, but the storage, licensing and support costs were more than we bargained for. We also looked at Office 365, but it didn’t offer the full suite of tools we needed or the simple pricing structure Google Apps has. So, with the help of our reseller, Dito, we switched to Apps.

We started with the fundamentals: moving everyone to Gmail and setting up device syncing so people could access email from their phones and tablets. Before we knew it, we started seeing employees picking up more advanced product features on their own: shared calendars became a company standard and Docs became the norm for team meeting notes.

But Google Drive has been the real revelation. Every important document in our company is stored in Drive, from onboarding and exit forms to organizational charts, permits and checklists. It's a far cry from our old system, a complicated file server that was stuffed full of different versions of Microsoft Word and Excel files, all with their own cryptic names for versions or dates.

Drive has also dramatically improved the way we collaborate. Creating our company all-hands presentations, for example, is a team effort that involves up to ten stakeholders working together on a single document at the same time. It's powerful to see that many employees collaborating so seamlessly and efficiently. It's even more exciting to think about how much time we save by eliminating the need to send attachments back and forth or check that we're working on the most up-to-date version.

Google Apps has helped turn technology into an incredible resource for our employees – smooth, hassle-free email and an easy collaboration hub. Now we can put all of our energy into helping our clients do great things. As someone in charge of IT, it’s comforting to know those systems will grow right alongside Quixote Studios as we continue to help make Hollywood’s big ideas come to life. And Scene!
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/01/quixote-studios-helps-hollywood-visions.html

[G] lastminute.com finds that traditional conversion tracking significantly undervalues non-brand search

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Analytics Blog: lastminute.com finds that traditional conversion tracking significantly undervalues non-brand search

The following post originally appeared on the Inside AdWords Blog.

Understanding the true impact of advertising

Advertisers have a fundamental need to understand the effectiveness of their advertising. Unfortunately, determining the true impact of advertising on consumer behavior is deceptively difficult. This difficulty in measurement is especially applicable to advertising on non-brand (i.e. generic) search terms, where ROI may be driven indirectly over multiple interactions that include downstream brand search activities. Advertising effectiveness is often estimated using standard tracking processes that rely upon ‘Last Click’ attribution. However, ‘Last Click’ based tracking can significantly underestimate the true value of non-brand search advertising. This fact was recently demonstrated by lastminute.com, a leading travel brand, using a randomized experiment - the most rigorous method of measurement.


Experimental Approach

lastminute.com recently conducted an online geo-experiment to measure the effectiveness of their non-brand search advertising on Google AdWords.  The study included offline and online conversions.  The analysis used a mathematical model to account for seasonality and city-level differences in sales.  Cities were randomly assigned to either a test or a control group. The test group received non-brand search advertising during the 12 week test period, while the control group did not receive such advertising during the same period. The benefit of this approach is that it allows statements to be made regarding the causal relationship between non-brand search advertising and the volume of conversions - the real impact of the marketing spend.

Download the full lastminute.com case study

Findings

The results of the experiment indicate that the overall effectiveness of the non-brand search advertising is 43% greater1 than the estimate generated by lastminute.com’s standard online tracking system.

The true impact of the non-brand search advertising is significantly larger than the ‘Last Click’ estimate because it accounts for
  • upper funnel changes in user behavior that are not visible to a ‘Last Click’ tracking system, and
  • the impact of non-brand search on sales from online and offline channels.
This improved understanding of the true value of non-brand search advertising has given lastminute.com the opportunity to revise their marketing strategy and make better budgeting decisions.


How can you benefit?

As proven by this study, ‘Last Click’ measurement can significantly understate the true effectiveness of search advertising. Advertisers should look to assess the performance of non-brand terms using additional metrics beyond ‘Last Click’ conversions. For example, advertisers should review the new first click conversions and assist metrics available in AdWords and Google Analytics. Ideally, advertisers will design and carry out experiments of their own to understand how non-brand search works to drive sales.

Read more about AdWords Search Funnels
Read more about Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels

Anish Acharya, Industry Analyst, Google
Stefan F. Schnabl, Product Manager, Google
Gabriel Hughes, Head of Attribution, Google
Jon Vaver, Senior Quantitative Analyst, Google

1 This result has a 95% Bayesian confidence interval of [1.17, 1.66].
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2013/01/lastminutecom-finds-that-traditional.html

[G] Easily find Google Trusted Store advertisers via new badges in Google Affiliate Network

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Google Affiliate Network: Easily find Google Trusted Store advertisers via new badges in Google Affiliate Network

We're excited to announce an easy way for publishers to identify advertisers within Google Affiliate Network that have earned the Google Trusted Store badge. Starting today in Google Affiliate Network, a badge will appear next to Google Trusted Store merchants in the U.S. that are also Google Affiliate Network advertisers.

About Google Trusted Stores
The Google Trusted Stores program helps shoppers buy online with confidence. The Google Trusted Store badge is only awarded to stores with a proven track record of reliable, on-time shipping and excellent customer service. So when shoppers see the Google Trusted Store badge on e-commerce websites, they know they’re buying from a store that provides a consistently excellent shopping experience. They also know that Google stands behind them when they shop, providing up to $1,000 of purchase protection in the rare event of a problem.




Benefits for publishers
The Google Trusted Store badge is a helpful tool you can use when considering advertiser affiliate programs to join. Look for the Google Trusted Store logo when browsing the Advertisers tab to find advertisers that are validated and certified by Google as providing a great shopping experience for consumers.

Benefits for advertisers
Advertisers have benefited from higher average order sizes and improved conversion rates after becoming a Google Trusted Store. If you’re an advertiser that delivers an excellent shopping experience and would like to learn more about the program, check out the Google Trusted Stores website for more information. If you earn the badge, it will automatically appear within your Product Listing Ads on Google.com and Google Shopping, as well as within the Google Affiliate Network interface.

We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback about this new feature, so don’t hesitate to share feedback via our Google Affiliate Network forum.

Posted by:
Bill Goudie, Systems Engineer

URL: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2013/01/easily-find-google-trusted-store.html

[G] Coming soon: international Learn with Google for Publishers events

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Inside AdSense: Coming soon: international Learn with Google for Publishers events

Edited for accuracy on January 24th, 2013

A little over a month ago we announced that AdSense in Your City events will be evolving into Learn with Google for Publishers. We also published our event schedule for North America. Today we’re excited to announce that the Learn with Google for Publishers event series is international, too!

Below are some international events in the next three months:

Latin America
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil - March 19, 2013
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina - March 13, 2013
Europe
  • Bucharest, Romania - March 4, 2013
  • Dublin, Ireland - February 11, 2013
If you’d like to attend one of our upcoming events, fill out this form and we’ll send out event confirmation details two weeks before the event. Space is limited, so sign up quickly.
   
Be sure to check out our complementary Learn with Google webinar series.  And, if you’re as excited as we are about Learn with Google for Publishers, let us know on our AdSense +page.

Posted by Ian Cohan-Shapiro - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2013/01/coming-soon-international-learn-with.html

Thursday, January 24, 2013

[G] See performance by OS and browser with Platform reports

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Google Affiliate Network: See performance by OS and browser with Platform reports

Today, we’ve released new reports to help you better understand the impact of desktop and mobile platforms in your affiliate program. With Platform reports, you can have full visibility into performance associated with desktop and mobile operating systems and browsers, right from within our interface.

You can review Platform reports to see OS and browser activity associated with clicks, actions, transactions, sales, fees, and more -- all based on the timeframe you specify. The Activity report provides a breakdown of performance based on the OS used. The Activity detail report drills deeper, breaking out performance by OS like Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS and browser type, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Publisher benefits

Publishers can use Platform reports to efficiently identify top performing advertisers by OS, helping them make more informed decisions as to which advertisers to promote through different platforms. Want to see which advertisers perform well in different operating systems? Review the Advertiser report to access performance metrics for advertisers based on platform. 

Advertiser benefits
Advertisers can see conversion performance by browser and operating system through Platform reports, making it easy to gain new insights – like whether or not visitors from mobile browsers convert at a higher rate than desktop browsers, or if the average order value associated with mobile is higher than conversions from desktop. Advertisers can also access Publisher and link reports with platform data, helping them identify the best publishers to partner with and the types of links to make available.



For example, let’s say an advertiser finds that traffic from smartphone or tablet browsers converts at a higher rate or is associated with a higher average order value compared to desktop browsers. In this case, platform data may be useful in helping the advertiser decide whether or not to work with more mobile-focused publishers.

As with all our reports, Platform reports can be easily exported to .txt or .csv for further analysis.

By breaking out visitors by OS and browser, Platform reporting may help provide direction on your mobile strategy. For example, you can use insights from Platform reports to consider whether or not to design a website to accommodate both mobile and desktop traffic, or to design a separate, mobile-friendly website.

If you have feedback or suggestions on these new reporting features, let us know what you think by submitting feedback in the interface or through our Product forum.

Posted by:
Kurt Spoerer, Senior Product Manager
URL: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2013/01/see-performance-by-os-and-browser-with.html

[G] Increasing Your Analytics Productivity With UI Improvements

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Analytics Blog: Increasing Your Analytics Productivity With UI Improvements

We’re always working on making Analytics easier for you to use. Since launching the latest version of Google Analytics (v5), we’ve been collecting qualitative and quantitative feedback from our users in order to improve the experience. Below is a summary of the latest updates. Some you may already be using, but all will be available shortly if you’re not seeing them yet. 

Make your dashboards better with new widgets and layout options



Use maps, devices and bar chart widgets in order to create a perfectly tailored dashboard for your audience. Get creative with these and produce, share and export custom dashboards that look exactly how you want with the metrics that matter to you. We have also introduced improvements to customize the layout of your dashboards to better suit individual needs. In addition dashboards now support advanced segments!

Get to your most frequently used reports quicker

You’ll notice we’ve made the sidebar of Google Analytics even more user-friendly, including quick access to your all-important shortcuts:


If you’re not already creating Shortcuts, read more about them and get started today. We have also enabled shortcuts for real-time reports, which allows you to set up a specific region to see its traffic in real-time, for example.

Navigate to recently used reports and profiles quicker with Recent History


Ever browse around Analytics and want to go back to a previous report? Instead of digging for the report, we’ve made it even simpler when you use Recent History.

Improving search functionality



Better Search allows you to search across all reports, shortcuts and dashboards all at once to find what you need.

Keyboard shortcuts

In case you've never seen them, Google Analytics does have some keyboard shortcuts. Be sure you’re using them to move around faster. Here are a few useful ones:

Search: s , / (Access to the quick search list)
Account List: Shift + a (access to the quick account list)
Set date range: d + t (set the date range to today)
On screen guide: Shift + ? (view the complete list of shortcuts)

Easier YoY Date Comparison


The new quick selection option lets you select previous year to prefill date range improving your productivity to conduct year over year analysis.

Export to Excel & Google Docs 

Exporting keeps getting better, and now includes native Excel XSLX support and Google Docs:


We hope you find these improvements useful and always feel free to let us know how we can make Analytics even more usable for you to get the information you need to take action faster.

Posted by Nikhil Roy, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2013/01/analytics-ui-improvements.html

[G] lastminute.com Finds That Traditional Conversion Tracking Significantly Undervalues Non-brand Search

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Inside AdWords: lastminute.com Finds That Traditional Conversion Tracking Significantly Undervalues Non-brand Search

Understanding the true impact of advertising

Advertisers have a fundamental need to understand the effectiveness of their advertising. Unfortunately, determining the true impact of advertising on consumer behavior is deceptively difficult. This difficulty in measurement is especially applicable to advertising on non-brand (i.e. generic) search terms, where ROI may be driven indirectly over multiple interactions that include downstream brand search activities. Advertising effectiveness is often estimated using standard tracking processes that rely upon ‘Last Click’ attribution. However, ‘Last Click’ based tracking can significantly underestimate the true value of non-brand search advertising. This fact was recently demonstrated by lastminute.com, a leading travel brand, using a randomized experiment - the most rigorous method of measurement.



Experimental Approach

lastminute.com recently conducted an online geo-experiment to measure the effectiveness of their non-brand search advertising on Google AdWords.  The study included offline and online conversions.  The analysis used a mathematical model to account for seasonality and city-level differences in sales.  Cities were randomly assigned to either a test or a control group. The test group received non-brand search advertising during the 12 week test period, while the control group did not receive such advertising during the same period. The benefit of this approach is that it allows statements to be made regarding the causal relationship between non-brand search advertising and the volume of conversions - the real impact of the marketing spend.

Full lastminute.com case study

Findings

The results of the experiment indicate that the overall effectiveness of the non-brand search advertising is 43% greater1 than the estimate generated by lastminute.com’s standard online tracking system.

The true impact of the non-brand search advertising is significantly larger than the ‘Last Click’ estimate because it accounts for
  • upper funnel changes in user behavior that are not visible to a ‘Last Click’ tracking system, and
  • the impact of non-brand search on sales from online and offline channels.
This improved understanding of the true value of non-brand search advertising has given lastminute.com the opportunity to revise their marketing strategy and make better budgeting decisions.



How can you benefit?

As proven by this study, ‘Last Click’ measurement can significantly understate the true effectiveness of search advertising. Advertisers should look to assess the performance of non-brand terms using additional metrics beyond ‘Last Click’ conversions. For example, advertisers should review the new first click conversions and assist metrics available in AdWords and Google Analytics. Ideally, advertisers will design and carry out experiments of their own to understand how non-brand search works to drive sales.

Read more on AdWords Search Funnels ...
Read more on Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels ...

Anish Acharya, Industry Analyst, Google
Stefan F. Schnabl, Product Manager, Google

1 This result has a 95% Bayesian confidence interval of [1.17, 1.66].
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2013/01/lastminutecom-finds-that-traditional.html

[G] One-stop shop for help with Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: One-stop shop for help with Google Apps

Posted by Helen Casabona, Google Apps documentation team

Finding information should be as simple as using a great product. That's why we created support.googleapps.com—an easy-to-use website where you and your employees can find everything you need to make the most of Google Apps in your organization. In addition to 24/7 phone support, we now offer a complete collection of documentation, training, and self-help resources available at one convenient location. You can visit the site whether you need to set up a new app, troubleshoot a calendar issue, train your users, or talk to a support rep.


Give your employees tips for the workplace
You and your employees can go to the Using your apps section of the site to find helpful information tailored specifically for using Google Apps in the workplace. Here, you’ll find guides on switching from your old email program to Gmail, calendar tips for administrative assistants, steps for setting up mobile access or a shared inbox, and other essential information for business users.

Get ready for upcoming launches
Visit the What's new? section for a schedule of new Google Apps feature and product launches. You’ll not only learn about important updates like the release of Google Drive or the new Gmail compose experience, but you can get tips and training resources for rolling these changes out to your users.

We believe that good support is a core component of Google Apps and hope that by placing these resources at your fingertips, everyone in your organization can find helpful answers, solve problems, and learn new ways to benefit from Google Apps. Check out the new site now at support.googleapps.com. Enjoy!
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/01/one-stop-shop-for-help-with-google-apps.html

[G] XBMC Rocked the Summer

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Google Open Source Blog: XBMC Rocked the Summer



XBMC is an open source software media player and entertainment hub available on Windows, OSX, Linux, and iOS, and available in beta form on Android and the Raspberry Pi.

2012 was XBMC's second year participating in Google Summer of Code, having previously been involved back in 2008, and it was enormously successful with all four accepted students completing their projects and adding valuable code to the XBMC base.

Sascha Montellese set out to provide a simpler and more powerful method for filtering the contents of a user's XBMC Media library. While theoretically a simple task, Sascha found himself upgrading virtually every piece of the XBMC library/database, providing vast improvements for the entire user experience, all to ensure that his advanced filter could reliably filter by nearly all popular media categories, including rating, progress, release date, genre, etc.

While Sascha sought to make the data in XBMC's library more easily accessible for users, Tobias Arrskog's goal was to more efficiently and effectively gather that data from the internet using a data-driven approach. After extensive statistical research, Tobias created a data scraper called Heimdall, designed to be both more efficient and "future proof," allowing for the addition of future media types, such as games.

Tobias sought to improve the data inside the XBMC library and Sascha sought to improve the XBMC library itself. Alasdair Campbell, in turn, sought a way to better share the media of the XBMC library with a user's entire media viewing ecosystem. To that end, Alasdair's project was to improve UPnP support on the XBMC UPnP server. By the end of the summer, Alasdair had realized a great deal of his goal, marking the first steps to a truly practical XBMC Server.

Finally, Andres Mejia's project differed somewhat from the other three projects. While the other projects were designed to enhance the XBMC library in various ways, Andres was tasked with creating an XBMC Test Suite so that XBMC developers could more easily test for various bugs before, during, and after the build process. Andres's Test Suite was merged into the XBMC codebase at the end of the summer.

When XBMC applied for Google Summer of Code in 2012, our entry was thought of primarily as a nice community event that could get more developers excited about the project. It has been incredible to discover the extent to which this program has vastly improved the codebase in ways that are reaching our users almost immediately. We will be very excited to apply for future instances of Google Summer of Code.

By Nathan Betzen, XBMC Google Summer of Code Administrator
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2013/01/xbmc-rocked-summer.html

[G] Smarter Cities with City 24/7 and Google Places API

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Smarter Cities with City 24/7 and Google Places API

Posted by Tom Touchet, CEO, City 24/7

(Cross-posted on the Google Geo Developers Blog)

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is from City 24/7, a non-traditional media company with a mission of providing “what you need to know, when and where it helps you most.” See how the company uses Google Places APIs as a way to give the public access to vital local information.

Imagine you are visiting New York City for the very first time. The lights, sounds and endless city blocks are all pretty amazing – yet a little confusing. That’s where City 24/7 comes in.

To give you an easy (and free) way of learning about your surroundings, we’re installing 250 Smart Screens in retrofitted telephone booths across NYC. City 24/7 Smart Screens are large, interactive touch screens that give you a range of information about local businesses and points of interest. And in the case of an emergency you can also access vital safety information, such as safety tips from the police department or updates from the mayor’s office.

We turned to the Google Places API to help us provide you with accurate, reliable information about events and places in any given neighborhood. The Places API includes location info from Google Maps, content from Google+ Local, Zagat-recommended establishments and (as of last week), Place Summaries - which include curated reviews and ratings.


Cities should be easy to live in and fun to visit. And with access to Google+ Local data, everyone can feel like a local, knowing all the best places to eat, shop, play and hang out. With the help of the Google Places API, we look forward to bringing our Smart Screens to bus shelters, train platforms, and major pedestrian streets in cities all around the world, as well as to launch our mobile application.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/01/smarter-cities-with-city-247-and-google.html

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

[G] Fireside Hangouts: Join Vice President Biden in a discussion about gun violence

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Official Google Blog: Fireside Hangouts: Join Vice President Biden in a discussion about gun violence

As President Obama and his cabinet begin their second term in the White House, they’re renewing a series of conversations on Google+ with top administration officials. These “Fireside Hangouts," a 21st-century spin on FDR’s famous radio addresses, bring top Administration officials to Google+ to discuss the most important issues in the country, face-to-face-to-face with fellow citizens in a hangout. The next hangout will take place Thursday, January 24 at 1:45 pm ET with Vice President Joe Biden on a topic that’s on everyone’s mind: reducing gun violence.

During his 30-minute hangout, Vice President Biden will discuss the White House policy recommendations on reducing gun violence with participants including Guy Kawasaki, Phil DeFranco and moderator Hari Sreenivasan from PBS NewsHour. If you'd like to suggest a question, just follow the participants on Google+, and look for posts about tomorrow's Hangout. To view the broadcast live, just tune in to the White House's Google+ page or YouTube channel on Thursday afternoon.

The White House will continue to host Hangouts with key members of the President’s cabinet on a range of second term priorities. Follow the White House on Google+ for more information about how you can join the conversation... or an upcoming Hangout.

Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Google+ Politics
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/fireside-hangouts-join-vice-president.html

[G] Transparency Report: What it takes for governments to access personal information

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Official Google Blog: Transparency Report: What it takes for governments to access personal information

Today we’re releasing new data for the Transparency Report, showing that the steady increase in government requests for our users’ data continued in the second half of 2012, as usage of our services continued to grow. We’ve shared figures like this since 2010 because it’s important for people to understand how government actions affect them.

We’re always looking for ways to make the report even more informative. So for the first time we’re now including a breakdown of the kinds of legal process that government entities in the U.S. use when compelling communications and technology companies to hand over user data. From July through December 2012:
  • 68 percent of the requests Google received from government entities in the U.S. were through subpoenas. These are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.
  • 22 percent were through ECPA search warrants. These are, generally speaking, orders issued by judges under ECPA, based on a demonstration of “probable cause” to believe that certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.
  • The remaining 10 percent were mostly court orders issued under ECPA by judges or other processes that are difficult to categorize.


User data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009, as you can see in our new visualizations of overall trends. In total, we received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users from July through December 2012.


We’ll keep looking for more ways to inform you about government requests and how we handle them. We hope more companies and governments themselves join us in this effort by releasing similar kinds of data.

One last thing: You may have noticed that the latest Transparency Report doesn’t include new data on content removals. That’s because we’ve decided to release those numbers separately going forward. Stay tuned for that data.

Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/transparency-report-what-it-takes-for.html

[G] Transparency Report: What it takes for governments to access personal information

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Google Public Policy Blog: Transparency Report: What it takes for governments to access personal information

Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

Today we’re releasing new data for the Transparency Report, showing that the steady increase in government requests for our users’ data continued in the second half of 2012, as usage of our services continued to grow. We’ve shared figures like this since 2010 because it’s important for people to understand how government actions affect them.

We’re always looking for ways to make the report even more informative. So for the first time we’re now including a breakdown of the kinds of legal process that government entities in the U.S. use when compelling communications and technology companies to hand over user data. From July through December 2012:
  • 68 percent of the requests Google received from government entities in the U.S. were through subpoenas. These are requests for user-identifying information, issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and are the easiest to get because they typically don’t involve judges.
  • 22 percent were through ECPA search warrants. These are, generally speaking, orders issued by judges under ECPA, based on a demonstration of “probable cause” to believe that certain information related to a crime is presently in the place to be searched.
  • The remaining 10 percent were mostly court orders issued under ECPA by judges or other processes that are difficult to categorize.


User data requests of all kinds have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009, as you can see in our new visualizations of overall trends. In total, we received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users from July through December 2012.


We’ll keep looking for more ways to inform you about government requests and how we handle them. We hope more companies and governments themselves join us in this effort by releasing similar kinds of data.

One last thing: You may have noticed that the latest Transparency Report doesn’t include new data on content removals. That’s because we’ve decided to release those numbers separately going forward. Stay tuned for that data.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2013/01/transparency-report-what-it-takes-for.html

[G] Programmatic in the Future: How can advertisers and publishers work better together?

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DoubleClick Publisher Blog: Programmatic in the Future: How can advertisers and publishers work better together?

Join us tomorrow, 1/24 at 1:30ET/10:30PT for the third edition of our 'Programmatic in the future' series, as Joel Aranson, Vice President of Media Operations & Technology and AOD Liaison for Digitas, and David Chiang, Vice President of Monetization at CBS Interactive talk about the ways in which they’re leveraging programmatic channels to buy and sell inventory, the challenges that they face and what excites them about the future. Log into your Google+ account and look for the Hangout on Air in the Think with Google +page stream. Hit the play button to tune in.

In our last edition, Mario Diez, CEO at QuadrantONE spoke with David Hertog, Product Marketing Manager at Google, about the transformative effect programmatic technologies are having on the industry even though they are still in their infancy.

In case you missed it, here’s what he had to say:



Direct sales teams are here to stay
Mario debunked the myth that direct sales teams and media planning teams are going to be replaced by programmatic channels. He emphasized that programmatic channels eliminate some of the procedural inefficiencies of traditional buying channels but reiterated that it’s not “plug and play” and businesses will continue to be driven by human relationships. He encourages publishers to align their organizational structures to take advantage of this new trend and also learn from it.

Advertiser goals will inform how they buy inventory
Programmatic has given publishers tools to work with different buying entities and expand their capability to meet an advertiser’s different goals. For example, publishers can work with advertisers directly, developing custom solutions, to drive impact and engagement for them, or offer exchange based transactions to help them optimize their buys. “It’s not a one size fit all, any more”, says Mario and he encourages publishers to talk to their advertisers to understand their goals and propose solutions, accordingly.

Publishers need to invest in data infrastructure
Today, Mario says, “micro-markets” sit between publishers and advertisers and are monetized by “audience data, verification, and so forth”. Publishers are sitting on a gold mine of audience data that can now serve as another revenue channel for them beyond their media assets. It’s important for publishers to aggregate that data in meaningful ways to drive ROI for buyers and increase the value for their inventory.


Posted by Yamini Gupta, Product Marketing Team
URL: http://doubleclickpublishers.blogspot.com/2013/01/programmatic-in-future-how-can.html

[G] Multi-armed Bandit Experiments

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Analytics Blog: Multi-armed Bandit Experiments

This article describes the statistical engine behind Google Analytics Content Experiments. Google Analytics uses a multi-armed bandit approach to managing online experiments. A multi-armed bandit is a type of experiment where:
  • The goal is to find the best or most profitable action
  • The randomization distribution can be updated as the experiment progresses
The name "multi-armed bandit" describes a hypothetical experiment where you face several slot machines ("one-armed bandits") with potentially different expected payouts. You want to find the slot machine with the best payout rate, but you also want to maximize your winnings. The fundamental tension is between "exploiting" arms that have performed well in the past and "exploring" new or seemingly inferior arms in case they might perform even better. There are highly developed mathematical models for managing the bandit problem, which we use in Google Analytics content experiments.

This document starts with some general background on the use of multi-armed bandits in Analytics. Then it presents two examples of simulated experiments run using our multi-armed bandit algorithm. It then address some frequently asked questions, and concludes with an appendix describing technical computational and theoretical details.

Background

How bandits work

Twice per day, we take a fresh look at your experiment to see how each of the variations has performed, and we adjust the fraction of traffic that each variation will receive going forward. A variation that appears to be doing well gets more traffic, and a variation that is clearly underperforming gets less. The adjustments we make are based on a statistical formula (see the appendix if you want details) that considers sample size and performance metrics together, so we can be confident that we’re adjusting for real performance differences and not just random chance. As the experiment progresses, we learn more and more about the relative payoffs, and so do a better job in choosing good variations.

Benefits

Experiments based on multi-armed bandits are typically much more efficient than "classical" A-B experiments based on statistical-hypothesis testing. They’re just as statistically valid, and in many circumstances they can produce answers far more quickly. They’re more efficient because they move traffic towards winning variations gradually, instead of forcing you to wait for a "final answer" at the end of an experiment. They’re faster because samples that would have gone to obviously inferior variations can be assigned to potential winners. The extra data collected on the high-performing variations can help separate the "good" arms from the "best" ones more quickly.
Basically, bandits make experiments more efficient, so you can try more of them. You can also allocate a larger fraction of your traffic to your experiments, because traffic will be automatically steered to better performing pages.

Examples

A simple A/B test

Suppose you’ve got a conversion rate of 4% on your site. You experiment with a new version of the site that actually generates conversions 5% of the time. You don’t know the true conversion rates of course, which is why you’re experimenting, but let’s suppose you’d like your experiment to be able to detect a 5% conversion rate as statistically significant with 95% probability. A standard power calculation1 tells you that you need 22,330 observations (11,165 in each arm) to have a 95% chance of detecting a .04 to .05 shift in conversion rates. Suppose you get 100 visits per day to the experiment, so the experiment will take 223 days to complete. In a standard experiment you wait 223 days, run the hypothesis test, and get your answer.

Now let’s manage the 100 visits each day through the multi-armed bandit. On the first day about 50 visits are assigned to each arm, and we look at the results. We use Bayes' theorem to compute the probability that the variation is better than the original2. One minus this number is the probability that the original is better. Let’s suppose the original got really lucky on the first day, and it appears to have a 70% chance of being superior. Then we assign it 70% of the traffic on the second day, and the variation gets 30%. At the end of the second day we accumulate all the traffic we’ve seen so far (over both days), and recompute the probability that each arm is best. That gives us the serving weights for day 3. We repeat this process until a set of stopping rules has been satisfied (we’ll say more about stopping rules below).

Figure 1 shows a simulation of what can happen with this setup. In it, you can see the serving weights for the original (the black line) and the variation (the red dotted line), essentially alternating back and forth until the variation eventually crosses the line of 95% confidence. (The two percentages must add to 100%, so when one goes up the other goes down). The experiment finished in 66 days, so it saved you 157 days of testing.



Figure 1. A simulation of the optimal arm probabilities for a simple two-armed experiment. These weights give the fraction of the traffic allocated to each arm on each day.
Of course this is just one example. We re-ran the simulation 500 times to see how well the bandit fares in repeated sampling. The distribution of results is shown in Figure 2. On average the test ended 175 days sooner than the classical test based on the power calculation. The average savings was 97.5 conversions.




Figure 2. The distributions of the amount of time saved and the number of conversions saved vs. a classical experiment planned by a power calculation. Assumes an original with 4% CvR and a variation with 5% CvR.
But what about statistical validity? If we’re using less data, doesn’t that mean we’re increasing the error rate? Not really. Out of the 500 experiments shown above, the bandit found the correct arm in 482 of them. That’s 96.4%, which is about the same error rate as the classical test. There were a few experiments where the bandit actually took longer than the power analysis suggested, but only in about 1% of the cases (5 out of 500).

We also ran the opposite experiment, where the original had a 5% success rate and the the variation had 4%. The results were essentially symmetric. Again the bandit found the correct arm 482 times out of 500. The average time saved relative to the classical experiment was 171.8 days, and the average number of conversions saved was 98.7.

Stopping the experiment

By default, we force the bandit to run for at least two weeks. After that, we keep track of two metrics.
The first is the probability that each variation beats the original. If we’re 95% sure that a variation beats the original then Google Analytics declares that a winner has been found. Both the two-week minimum duration and the 95% confidence level can be adjusted by the user.

The second metric that we monitor is is the "potential value remaining in the experiment", which is particularly useful when there are multiple arms. At any point in the experiment there is a "champion" arm believed to be the best. If the experiment ended "now", the champion is the arm you would choose. The "value remaining" in an experiment is the amount of increased conversion rate you could get by switching away from the champion. The whole point of experimenting is to search for this value. If you’re 100% sure that the champion is the best arm, then there is no value remaining in the experiment, and thus no point in experimenting. But if you’re only 70% sure that an arm is optimal, then there is a 30% chance that another arm is better, and we can use Bayes’ rule to work out the distribution of how much better it is. (See the appendix for computational details).

Google Analytics ends the experiment when there’s at least a 95% probability that the value remaining in the experiment is less than 1% of the champion’s conversion rate. That’s a 1% improvement, not a one percentage point improvement. So if the best arm has a conversion rate of 4%, then we end the experiment if the value remaining in the experiment is less than .04 percentage points of CvR.

Ending an experiment based on the potential value remaining is nice because it handles ties well. For example, in an experiment with many arms, it can happen that two or more arms perform about the same, so it does not matter which is chosen. You wouldn’t want to run the experiment until you found the optimal arm (because there are two optimal arms). You just want to run the experiment until you’re sure that switching arms won’t help you very much.

More complex experiments

The multi-armed bandit’s edge over classical experiments increases as the experiments get more complicated. You probably have more than one idea for how to improve your web page, so you probably have more than one variation that you’d like to test. Let’s assume you have 5 variations plus the original. You’re going to do a calculation where you compare the original to the largest variation, so we need to do some sort of adjustment to account for multiple comparisons. The Bonferroni correction is an easy (if somewhat conservative) adjustment, which can be implemented by dividing the significance level of the hypothesis test by the number of arms. Thus we do the standard power calculation with a significance level of .05 / (6 - 1), and find that we need 15,307 observations in each arm of the experiment. With 6 arms that’s a total of 91,842 observations. At 100 visits per day the experiment would have to run for 919 days (over two and a half years). In real life it usually wouldn’t make sense to run an experiment for that long, but we can still do the thought experiment as a simulation.

Now let’s run the 6-arm experiment through the bandit simulator. Again, we will assume an original arm with a 4% conversion rate, and an optimal arm with a 5% conversion rate. The other 4 arms include one suboptimal arm that beats the original with conversion rate of 4.5%, and three inferior arms with rates of 3%, 2%, and 3.5%. Figure 3 shows the distribution of results. The average experiment duration is 88 days (vs. 919 days for the classical experiment), and the average number of saved conversions is 1,173. There is a long tail to the distribution of experiment durations (they don’t always end quickly), but even in the worst cases, running the experiment as a bandit saved over 800 conversions relative to the classical experiment.




Figure 3. Savings from a six-armed experiment, relative to a Bonferroni adjusted power calculation for a classical experiment. The left panel shows the number of days required to end the experiment, with the vertical line showing the time required by the classical power calculation. The right panel shows the number of conversions that were saved by the bandit.
The cost savings are partially attributable to ending the experiment more quickly, and partly attributable to the experiment being less wasteful while it is running. Figure 4 shows the history of the serving weights for all the arms in the first of our 500 simulation runs. There is some early confusion as the bandit sorts out which arms perform well and which do not, but the very poorly performing arms are heavily downweighted very quickly. In this case, the original arm has a "lucky run" to begin the experiment, so it survives longer than some other competing arms. But after about 50 days, things have settled down into a two-horse race between the original and the ultimate winner. Once the other arms are effectively eliminated, the original and the ultimate winner split the 100 observations per day between them. Notice how the bandit is allocating observations efficiently from an economic standpoint (they’re flowing to the arms most likely to give a good return), as well as from a statistical standpoint (they’re flowing to the arms that we most want to learn about).




Figure 4. History of the serving weights for one of the 6-armed experiments.
Figure 5 shows the daily cost of running the multi-armed bandit relative to an "oracle" strategy of always playing arm 2, the optimal arm. (Of course this is unfair because in real life we don’t know which arm is optimal, but it is a useful baseline.) On average, each observation allocated to the original costs us .01 of a conversion, because the conversion rate for the original is .01 less than arm 2. Likewise, each observation allocated to arm 5 (for example) costs us .03 conversions because its conversion rate is .03 less than arm 2. If we multiply the number of observations assigned to each arm by the arm’s cost, and then sum across arms, we get the cost of running the experiment for that day. In the classical experiment, each arm is allocated 100 / 6 visits per day (on average, depending on how partial observations are allocated). It works out that the classical experiment costs us 1.333 conversions each day it is run. The red line in Figure 5 shows the cost to run the bandit each day. As time moves on, the experiment becomes less wasteful and less wasteful as inferior arms are given less weight.




Figure 5. Cost per day of running the bandit experiment. The constant cost per day of running the classical experiment is shown by the horizontal dashed line.
1The R function power.prop.test performed all the power calculations in this article.
2See the appendix if you really want the details of the calculation. You can skip them if you don’t.

Posted by By Steven L. Scott, PhD, Sr. Economic Analyst
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2013/01/multi-armed-bandit-experiments.html

[G] Create, edit and present with Google Slides offline

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Create, edit and present with Google Slides offline

Posted by Michael Frederick, Software Engineer, Google Slides

(Cross-posted on the Google Drive blog.)

Good news Slides lovers. You can now create, edit, comment and (perhaps most importantly) present without an internet connection -- just like you can with Docs. Any new presentations or changes you make will be automatically updated when you get back online. So you can continue polishing slides on your next flight, and head to your upcoming presentation without worrying about whether there's going to be wifi.

If you already have offline editing for Docs enabled, you don’t have to change anything to work with Slides offline. If not, you can turn it on for Slides (and Docs) by following these instructions. Note that to work offline you’ll need to be using Chrome or ChromeOS. And for those of you who use Google Sheets, we’re working to make offline spreadsheets available as well -- stay tuned.


URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/01/create-edit-and-present-with-google.html

[G] Your optimization checklist, Part 2

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Inside AdSense: Your optimization checklist, Part 2

Last week we covered some oldie-but-goodie optimization tips. Today, we’ll focus on some advanced tips to help you bring your AdSense strategy to the next level. We encourage you to review the full list and check off items as you complete them.
  1. Ensure your site has a positive user experience: User experience (UX) can make or break your site’s success. With many other sites offering similar services, it’s important to differentiate your site in the eyes of your users by providing a better experience. Because a user’s attention is limited, you'll only have a few seconds to provide a good experience and quickly guide the user to what they’re looking for. Read these three blog posts to learn our top five UX tips.
  2. Make your first ad unit count: AdSense loads the highest paying ad on a page first, so to improve your revenue make sure that your best performing ad unit is the first in your HTML code. Make the changes by following these steps.
  3. Fix crawler errors: Ensure that our AdSense crawler can accurately crawl your site so that your ads are as relevant and useful as possible. Visit the Account settings section of your account to see if you have crawler errors and read this blog post for details on the steps to take.
  4. Go mobile: It’s clear that mobile is growing rapidly. Ensure you have a mobile strategy for your site, and use our tips and tools to help you along the way.
  5. Create a Google+ page to connect with your users: Google+ offers a number of tools to help you reach audiences in new ways. On your +page, you can share your articles, photos, YouTube videos, and even host live broadcasts. Your +page will also include a +1 button that users can click to recommend you. Think about your Google+ page as a way to complement your site, allowing you to grow and measure user engagement before directing users back to your pages for more of your great content. Get started today by reading our Social Fridays blog post series. 
  6. Use DoubleClick For Publishers (DFP) Small Business: As your online advertising business continues to grow, you may have started working with other ad networks or doing deals directly with advertisers. DFP Small Business is a free, Google-hosted solution to help streamline how ads are served on your site when you’re working with AdSense alongside other ad partners. With DFP Small Business, you have a vast array of features that give you more control over when, where, and how your ads serve.
That concludes our two-part optimization checklist series. Please visit our AdSense +page to let us know your experience with these optimization tips.

Posted by Jamie Firkus - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2013/01/your-optimization-checklist-part-2.html

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

[G] Google + Audi: Enhancing Navigation

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Google Lat Long: Google + Audi: Enhancing Navigation


(Cross posted from the Google Enterprise Blog)

Editors Note: Our guest blogger is Anupam (Pom) Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America. With a company-wide focus on the latest in-car technologies, Pom talks about teaming up with Google to help drivers enhance the driving experience with Audi connect™.

"Progress through technology" is at the core of every Audi vehicle. For a driver, in-car technology brings several benefits, including safety, access to local map content and more efficient ways to reach a destination. When developing Audi connect™, we wanted to present our drivers with something that was functional, yet elegant. We were able to deliver this by enhancing our navigation system with Google Maps and Google Earth.





By integrating Google features, we are creating a familiar user experience for our drivers, who already use Google Maps on their computers, smartphones and tablets. As a result, Audi connect makes it easy for drivers to search for a local point of interest or verify a route from Google Earth or Street View. With real-life images, combined with Google local search and voice search, Audi connect allows drivers and their passengers to safely explore and discover local destinations.

The main thing drivers want to do, of course, is get to their destination. But with Audi connect now enhanced by Google Maps and Earth features, we think our drivers will enjoy the journey a whole lot more.

Posted by Anupam (Pom) Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2013/01/google-audi-enhancing-navigation.html

[G] Google + Audi: Enhancing Navigation

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google + Audi: Enhancing Navigation

Posted by Anupam (Pom) Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America

(Cross-posted on the Google LatLong Blog.)

Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Anupam (Pom) Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America. With a company-wide focus on the latest in-car technologies, Pom talks about teaming up with Google to help drivers enhance the driving experience with Audi connect™.

"Progress through technology" is at the core of every Audi vehicle. For a driver, in-car technology brings several benefits, including safety, access to local map content and more efficient ways to reach a destination. When developing Audi connect™, we wanted to present our drivers with something that was functional, yet elegant. We were able to deliver this by enhancing our navigation system with Google Maps and Google Earth.



By integrating Google features, we are creating a familiar user experience for our drivers, who already use Google Maps on their computers, smartphones and tablets. As a result, Audi connect makes it easy for drivers to search for a local point of interest or verify a route from Google Earth or Street View. With real-life images, combined with Google local search and voice search, Audi connect allows drivers and their passengers to safely explore and discover local destinations.

The main thing drivers want to do, of course, is get to their destination. But with Audi connect now enhanced by Google Maps and Earth features, we think our drivers will enjoy the journey a whole lot more.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/01/google-audi-enhancing-navigation.html

[G] Find sample code and more for Google Cloud Platform, now on GitHub

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Google Open Source Blog: Find sample code and more for Google Cloud Platform, now on GitHub


Today, we’re announcing that you can now find Google Cloud Platform on GitHub! The GitHub organization for the Google Cloud Platform is your destination for samples and tools relating to App Engine, BigQuery, Compute Engine, Cloud SQL, and Cloud Storage. Most Google Cloud Platform existing open source tools will be migrated to the organization over time. You can quickly get your app running by forking any of our repositories and diving into the code.

Currently, the GitHub organization for the Google Cloud Platform has 36 public repositories, some of which are currently undergoing their initial code reviews, which you can follow on the repo. The Google Cloud Platform Developer Relations Team will be using GitHub to maintain our starter projects, which show how to get started with our APIs using different stacks. We will continue to add repositories that illustrate solutions, such as the classic guest book app on Google App Engine. For good measure, you will also see some tools that will make your life easier, such as an OAuth 2.0 helper.

From getting started with Python on Google Cloud Storage to monitoring your Google Compute Engine instances with App Engine, our GitHub organization is home to it all.

Trick of the trade: to find samples relating to a specific platform, try filtering on the name in the “Find a Repository” text field.

We set up this organization not only to give you an easy way to find and follow our samples, but also to give you a way to get involved and start hacking alongside us. We’ll be monitoring our repositories for any reported issues as well as for pull requests. If you’re interested in seeing what a code review looks like for Google’s open source code, you can follow along with the discussion happening right on the commits.

Let us know about your suggestions for samples. We look forward to seeing what you create!

By Julia Ferraioli, Developer Advocate, Google Compute Engine
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2013/01/find-sample-code-and-more-for-google.html

[G] Google Tag Manager: Technical Implementation Deep Dive Webinar

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Google Analytics Blog: Google Tag Manager: Technical Implementation Deep Dive Webinar


Just three months ago we launched Google Tag Manager to make it easier for marketers (or anyone in the organization) to add and update website tags, such as conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing, and more. The tool provides an easy-to-use interface with templates for tags from Google and templates for other vendor’s tags, as well as customizable options for all your tagging needs. This minimizes site-coding requirements and simplifies the often error-prone tagging process.



In November, we held an introductory webinar (watch the recording here, plus read Q&A), and next week we’re holding a second webinar going beyond the basics and diving into the technical details and best practices for how to implement Google Tag Manager. This webinar will be hosted by Rob Murray, our Engineering Manager, and Dean Glasenberg, Sales Lead.



Webinar: Google Tag Manager Technical Implementation

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time: 10 am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT

Register here: http://goo.gl/17OFd

Recommended Audience: IT or webmaster team members



During the webinar we’ll go through a step-by-step process for implementation, and we’ll cover some more advanced topics (i.e. deploying more complex tags). We’ll introduce the role of a Data Layer and use it in conjunction with Events to show how you can set up a site to gather detailed usage metrics, for example, to help you understand why users are dropping off at a specific page.  We’ll also show you how common browser Developer Tools, as well as the Google Tag Manager Debug mode, can be used to help verify that your tags are working correctly (and fix them if they’re not).



Hope to see to see you on Tuesday!



Posted by Dean Glasenberg, Global Sales Lead, Google Tag Manager



URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/tRaA/~3/h6IeDxHxLsY/google-tag-manager-technical.html