Friday, February 15, 2013

[G] 2013 YouTube Ad Blitz Winners Revealed

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YouTube Blog: 2013 YouTube Ad Blitz Winners Revealed

This year’s game day was was full of action--both on and off the field. After Baltimore and San Francisco battled it out during the game, you went online to vote for your favorite game day commercial in our annual YouTube Ad Blitz contest. After a week of intense competition, we’ve tallied the final votes and you chose Ram Truck brand’s "Farmer" commercial as your favorite ad of the big game!

Rounding out the top five commercials of the big game are spots from Budweiser, Samsung, Jeep and Hyundai:

2. Budweiser "The Clydesdales"

3. Samsung "The Next Big Thing"

4. Jeep "Whole Again"

5. Hyundai "Team"

From celebrity cameos to poetic images, these commercials represent the game day ads that resonated most with viewers online. In addition to being the highest voted ads on Ad Blitz, the five spots combined generated more than 61 million views on YouTube in two weeks--making up more than 30 percent of all total views of game day ads and teasers on YouTube (as of February 14). And the Ad Blitz channel had more than 46 million interactions with this year’s new features such as "Call the Coach" and "Paper Football."

In a new addition to our yearly celebration of advertising excellence, we welcome you to join us Saturday, February 16, at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT as we host a Google+ Hangout with the creative heavyweights behind these winning ads, along with ADWEEK editors James Cooper and Tim Nudd. 

Tune into the YouTube homepage today to check out the top five spots!

Sue McCauley, Ad Blitz Program Manager, recently watched DeStorm’s "1 Pinky Pull Up."


[G] Some small talk with ESUG

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Google Open Source Blog: Some small talk with ESUG

ESUG (the European Smalltalk User Group), had an exciting and challenging Google Summer of Code with 10 students who successfully completed their projects. The students worked on many kinds of projects using different implementations of Smalltalk like Pharo, Squeak or Amber, ranging from end-user applications to VM improvements. This year's Google Summer of Code has indeed been a big boost for our open source community, besides all the new projects and contributions (and contributors!) to our project, this year we also mentored twice the number of students than ever before.

We also started to improve the visibility of the new projects to the community and the integration of the students with the rest of the developers, asking them to write blogs on their work and publish screencasts and news about their projects in the mailing lists. It's been a good experience compared to our last Google Summer of Code in 2010, but we hope to improve this even more in a future instance of the program.

We would like to invite you to take a look at our passing students' projects this year:

Interactive and Social Smalltalk Tutorial (by Facundo Mainere)
When the summer started, the Smalltalk community didn't have a place to promote their language to new coders in social networks. SmalltalkTutorial offers a game-like way of learning the language basics by integrating the user achievements in social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Besides a cool tool for newcomers, it's a nice project to illustrate what can be done with Smalltalk web technologies such as Amber (a Smalltalk implementation written in Javascript).

TestSurgeon (by Pablo Estefo)
TestSurgeon is a tool for the Pharo environment which monitors the execution of unit tests and collects data on what is being tested and how it is tested. The TestSurgeon's screencast shows how it provides a test similarity metric and a visualisation for refactoring and restructuring tests.

Esse (by Paul Kuzovkin)
Simply put, this is a framework for building presentations of a new generation. The emphasis is on brainstorming, presenting and sharing ideas. The demo screencast of Esse might remind you of a Prezi presentation, but with the possibility of editing and evaluating Smalltalk code while the presentation is running.

Improving Nautilus (by Benjamin Van Ryseghem)
This project was about improving the new System Browser for Pharo. Nautilus' demo shows the capabilities of the new browser, such as accessing a project's code repository from the packages list in one click, changing between different views of the classes in the system and interacting with a browsing history.

Hazelnut (by Guillermo Polito)
Pharo has an image-based development environment, as we can read in Guillermo's blog. The current image that is being used has been inherited from much older implementations of Smalltalk, and it's time to deconstruct it in order to build a new and better one. Hazelnut is a project for bootstrapping Pharo's image, that means that it's able to generate smaller subsets of that system that may be used to reproduce the complete one, and therefore it will help to understand the current image architecture, how it can be improved, and help to build a new one from scratch. Hazelnut won 2nd place in the 9th Innovation Technology Awards at the conference ESUG 2012. Take a look at the demo.

Call Graph - Type Inference (by Santiago Bragagnolo)
A popular property of Smalltalk is that it is a dynamically typed language and it does type checking on run-time. When programming, it could be useful to know the type of expressions we write, like when we do code refactors, or browse for senders of a message, or even when documenting. In Santiago's blog we can find a detailed diary of this project that enables concrete type inference in this dynamically typed environment.

Tanker (by Martín Dias)
Tanker is a project that aims to avoid recompiling code each time you import a package. It uses binary serialisation and materialisation of packages to avoid compilation time. You can watch Tanker's demo.

Rizel (by Juan Pablo Sandovar)
The Rizel application is designed to monitor global performance across different versions of a software. This project helps the developer answer questions like "How has performance evolved over time?" and "Which software version is the cause of a drop in performance and why?" You can find examples on Rizel’s website and also view this screencast.

ARM JITter for Squeak VM (by Lars Wassermann)
The Squeak VM is the dynamic virtual machine used for many open source software projects like Scratch, eToys, Pharo, the Newspeak language, the innovative web framework Seaside, and many others. CogVM is a development of the Squeak VM which adds a powerful Intel x86 JITer. The CogVM JIT has significantly improved the performance of the open source Smalltalk projects which have adopted to use it. The goal of this project was to add simple ARM JITing capability to the CogVM to significantly increase the performance of popular Smalltalk software running on ARM platforms, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Beagle Board and the computers of the one-laptop-per-child project. To get to the achieved milestones of this project refer to Lars' review.

HMI (Human-Machine Interface) with Amber (by Rustem Khubbatov)
A framework for building Human-Machine Interfaces with a Pharo back-end providing model, and a presentation front-end in Amber. You can view the screencast here.

We congratulate all of our students for their great contributions, and we also want to thank the mentors who worked with them last summer. We hope you find these projects as interesting as we do, and feel free to check The World of Smalltalk for following our mailing lists and news, as well as our ESUG Google Summer of Code website.  Many thanks to Google for supporting Smalltalk for yet another summer and we look forward to participating again in Google Summer of Code 2013!

By Carla Griggio, ESUG Organization Administrator


[G] ICOM Productions pushes the eLearning envelope with Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: ICOM Productions pushes the eLearning envelope with Google Apps

Posted by Jared Tabler, Vice President of Operations at ICOM Productions

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Jared Tabler, Vice President of Operations at ICOM Productions, a Calgary, Alberta-based eLearning company. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

ICOM Productions is a 100-person company focused on helping companies better engage and develop their employees by freshening up their training programs. We pride ourselves on being progressive, young and vibrant; we encourage our employees to question old habits, push the envelope and change the way we teach and learn every day.

When I joined as VP of Operations less than a year ago, I was shocked by how our progressive mentality clashed with our old, slow and unreliable technology. We were using a piecemeal technology solution built around Microsoft® Exchange that made everyday processes disjointed and inefficient. We wanted employees from each of our three offices to be able to collaborate on projects, but the process of emailing versions back and forth and editing them in silos wasn't quite the collaboration we were looking for. We knew we needed something better, but upgrading to the newest Exchange Server would have cost us a fortune and still leave us three years behind the latest technology.

It turned out that our forward-thinking employees were pushing the envelope with technology on the side, too: they'd started using their personal Google accounts at work. They were sharing files through Google Drive and creating project hubs with Google Sites. Over the next few months, we talked with our employees and Agosto, a Google Apps Reseller, and we came to a clear conclusion: moving ICOM to Google Apps was the best path forward. In the Fall of 2012, Agosto partnered with our technical team to put a migration plan in place, and 30 days later, all 100 employees were on Apps. It was the fastest IT implementation I’ve ever done.

Google+ Hangouts have completely revolutionized our recruiting process. Instead of relying on phone screenings, which don’t really convey a candidate’s personality, or flying people to Calgary, which is expensive, we use Hangouts, which cost nothing and bring each prospect’s character to life. We like to do group interviews via Hangouts to see how people think and interact - group collaboration is huge at ICOM, and you get a good sense of that over video conference. Our candidates love that we’re using new technology and we love that we’re still getting the same valuable insight about our candidates.

Google Apps has helped us be more efficient, more forward-thinking and more cost-effective. It’s also helped us strengthen the ICOM culture we pride ourselves on - being creative, asking thought-provoking questions and working as a team. All of this, of course, means that we’re getting better at what we do: helping other companies teach and train their employees more effectively. Just like what Apps has done for us.

[G] It's the first Anniversary for the AdWords Community. Let's celebrate in style!

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Inside AdWords: It's the first Anniversary for the AdWords Community. Let's celebrate in style!

It's our first anniversary and we want to thank you!

A year has passed since we launched the new English AdWords Community website on the February 14th. It’s been exciting and it’s certainly been emotional, but wow…what a year it’s been.

We’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together with you in the past 12 months and we’re even more proud of how the AdWords Community has developed. The AdWords Community became an important place for AdWords customers globally looking for support and guidance they need to grow their ROI, their sales and their overall online businesses.

That’s all down to the AdWords Top Contributors and all members of the AdWords Online Community. So, a personal ‘thank you’ to each one of you for making this past year so exciting.

We have so many exciting things planned for this year to add even more value to our AdWords Community, so please stay tuned!

But now, let’s all raise a glass and say one big “Happy first anniversary to the AdWords Community”. To celebrate in style, we’ve gone a little birthday crazy and prepared a small surprise for you.

Please enjoy it!

If interested, please visit also our global Communities: Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Italian, French, Traditional Chinese, and Polish.

AdWords Community Team

[G] Mobile interaction research at Google

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Google Research Blog: Mobile interaction research at Google

Posted by Xiaojun Bi, Ciprian Chelba, Tom Ouyang, Kurt Partridge and Shumin Zhai

Google takes a hybrid approach to research - research happens across the entire company, and affects everything we do. As one example, we have a group that focuses on mobile interaction research. With research backgrounds in human-computer interaction, machine learning, statistical language modeling, and ubicomp, the group has focused on both foundational work and feature innovations for smart touchscreen keyboards. These innovations help us make things like typing messages on your Android device easier for hundreds of millions of people each day.

We work closely with world-class engineers, designers, product managers, and UX researchers across the company, which enables us to rapidly integrate the fruits of our research into the Android platform. The first major integration was the launch of Gesture Typing in Android 4.2.

Rapidly developed from basic concepts up to product code, and built on years of Android platform groundwork on input method editors (IME) and input method framework (IMF), Gesture Typing uses novel algorithms to dynamically infer and display the user’s intended word right at the fingertip. Often the intended word is displayed even before the user has finished gesturing--creating a magical experience for the user. Seamlessly integrated with touch tapping, Gesture Typing also supports two-thumb use.

It is exciting and rewarding to do research inside a product team that enforces engineering and user experience discipline. At the same time, we as researchers also contribute to the broader research community; publication, whether in the form of papers, code, or data, bind a research community together. The following papers are based on our work over the last year, some with bright and hardworking student interns:

Octopus: Evaluating Touchscreen Keyboard Correction and Recognition Algorithms via “Remulation”

by Xiaojun Bi, Shiri Azenkot (U. of Washington), Kurt Partridge, Shumin Zhai

CHI 2013, in press (link to come)

FFitts Law: Modeling Finger Touch with Fitts’ Law

by Xiaojun Bi, Yang Li, Shumin Zhai

CHI 2013, in press (link to come)

Making Touchscreen Keyboards Adaptive to Keys, Hand Postures, and Individuals - A Hierarchical Spatial Backoff Model Approach

by Ying Yin (MIT), Tom Ouyang, Kurt Partridge, Shumin Zhai

CHI 2013, in press (link to come)

Bimanual gesture keyboard.

by Xiaojun Bi, Ciprian Chelba, Tom Ouyang, Kurt Partridge, and Shumin Zhai

UIST 2012

Touch Behavior with Different Postures on Soft Smart Phone Keyboards

by Shiri Azenkot (U. Washington) and Shumin Zhai

MobileHCI 2012


[G] Through the tunnel and onto the field...see inside the Indianapolis Colts stadium on Google Maps

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Google Lat Long: Through the tunnel and onto the field...see inside the Indianapolis Colts stadium on Google Maps

The Super Bowl is over, the lockers are cleared out and the players have gone home, but passionate football fans across the U.S. are already counting the days (202 to be exact!) until the 2013 kickoff of the National Football League (NFL). What will we do with our Sundays for the next 6 months?!

To fill the football void, you can turn to Google Maps. Where, starting today, you can take a VIP, 360-degree interactive photo tour of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. This is the first imagery of inside an NFL stadium in Google Maps, and another example of how we’re working hard (and having fun!) building the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world -- complete with imagery from inside your favorite sporting venues.

The large Colts helmet at mid-field is a key focal point for all Colts fans

With this new interactive, 360 degree imagery, you can march out of the tunnel and down the field towards the end zone, just like Andrew Luck did all season. Or check out the Colts’ locker room where Head Coach Chuck Pagano gave his memorable post-game locker room speech on November 4, after an inspirational win against the Miami Dolphins. You can also explore the stadium’s three concourses and suites, including the Quarterback Suite, a Field Level Suite and Loge-Level Suite.

The official locker room of the Indianapolis Colts

Together with the Colts and Lucas Oil Stadium, we’re thrilled to give you, the fans, a behind-the-scenes look at the home of the Colts, and enable anyone to “visit” the stadium from wherever they may be.

Check out the stadium images by searching for “Lucas Oil Stadium” or “Colts Stadium” in Google Maps on your browser, Android or iPhone app or visit the Street View Gallery. And be sure to check out for more details.

Posted by Evan Rapoport, Product Manager, Google Maps

[G] RISE Awards 2013: A global effort

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Official Google Blog: RISE Awards 2013: A global effort

“I am standing in a partial enclosure made of sticks and plant fronds. This is the school for roughly 35 students, ranging in age from three to about 20 years old. There are no desks. There is only a single shared chalkboard, and it has gaping holes.” — David Rathmann-Bloch from the 21st Century Chalkboard Project, writing from rural Haiti.
These are just some of the many challenges faced by education organizations who applied for this year’s Google RISE Awards. The RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards program funds and supports organizations around the world that provide science and technology education at a grassroots level.

This year we’re delighted to give awards to 30 new organizations from 18 different countries. Combined they will reach more than 90,000 children in 2013, helping inspire and teach the scientists and engineers of the future.

  • Some, such as Haiti’s 21st Century Chalkboard Project and the Uniristii Association (site in Romanian) in Romania, help those from underserved communities gain access to computing resources.
  • Others, like the U.K.’s Code Club and the U.S.’s CodeNow, offer extracurricular activities that help interested children, especially those from underrepresented minority backgrounds, to learn programming.
  • A few, such as the Middle East’s MEET and iLab Liberia, seek to use technology education as a platform to bridge wider social and cultural divides.
  • Some, like Girlstart in the U.S. and New Zealand’s Programming Challenge 4 Girls, aim to empower girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition to receiving funding and support to continue their outreach, RISE Award recipients will be brought together for a global summit this June in London.

To paraphrase an old saying, from small seeds, great things can grow. The recipients of the 2013 RISE Awards have already made a difference. Connecting with other like-minded organizations will help spread valuable and practical expertise, and spark opportunities for global collaboration and expansion.

Posted by Roxana Shirkhoda, Education Outreach Specialist

[G] A perfect match: Blogger and Google+ Pages for Takeout

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Data Liberation: A perfect match: Blogger and Google+ Pages for Takeout

You: A Blogger or Google+ Page owner who dreams of controlling their data.
Us: A band of engineers who will stop at nothing to make your dreams come true.

Meet us at, and together we will export each of your blogs as an Atom Xml file. Or, if you’ve enjoyed exporting data from your Google+ Stream and Google+ Circles through Takeout in the past, but are looking for something more, join us now and download html files with your posts and json files containing the circles for each Google+ Page you own. If you don’t want to rush into things, we can also just export a single blog or page of your choice. Either way, give us a try. Life will never be the same.

Posted by Kári Ragnarsson, The Data Liberation Front

Thursday, February 14, 2013

[G] YouTube NextUp: Collaborators Ahoy!

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YouTube Blog: YouTube NextUp: Collaborators Ahoy!

Back in December last year, we announced our second YouTube NextUp program and called for your most creative ideas of how to collaborate with other talented creators. And you didn’t disappoint! We were overwhelmed with the imaginative and ambitious proposals and those selected represent a spectrum of determined creators who are all taking their channels to the next level. From comedic musicals and adventures of remote-controlled cars to special effects and holistic living, some great “collabs” are coming from these creators soon. Meet all of them in this video and subscribe to their channels today:

Along with grant money and new production equipment, these 30 channels were also invited to come to the YouTube Space LA and get creating. They’ve spent this week attending production workshops, learning about how to build their audiences, and filming new and exciting collaboration videos. We put together a short video showing you what they’ve been up to:

Austin Lau, YouTube Creator Programs Manager, recently watched “25 videos from YouTube NextUp 2011


[G] DoubleClick Search tools to help you remember those three little words this Valentine’s Day: return on investment

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Inside AdWords: DoubleClick Search tools to help you remember those three little words this Valentine’s Day: return on investment

Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Search blog.

Let’s face it: managing your search campaigns can seem a lot like being in a relationship. Both can be fickle, require lots of work and time, and need the right amount of attention to get the best results -- especially during Valentine’s Day. When everything is going smoothly, you’re feeling confident and on top of your game; but, without commitment and focus, your search management romance can quickly fizzle.

Here at DoubleClick Search, we know it's important for you and your campaigns to be getting along well as more consumers turn to search to find the best deals. This is especially true during high-traffic retail holidays; in fact, online sales are up 28% over last 2 years(1), with $210 billion in web-influenced sales expected for this year(2). This means huge opportunities for search marketers to reach shoppers looking for deals -- but it can also mean a lot of extra work.  

So with that, we want to make sure your search management relationship doesn’t fall flat this year. Below are a few DoubleClick Search solutions to put the kick back in your step and help you keep focus on those other three little words this Valentine’s Day: return on investment.

Communication is key
Good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship; after all, being left in the dark can quickly compound problems and stifle new opportunities to grow. Stay connected with a few tools from DoubleClick Search that’ll help you better understand and capture new opportunities:

Chart bid history. Take the guesswork out of the relationship. With the ability to chart your bid history, DoubleClick Search gives you full transparency into bidding decisions to visually represent your keyword bids over time, and help you better manage to your unique goals.
Bi-directional sync. Communication is a two-way street. With bi-directional sync, the changes you make in AdWords or adCenter show up in DoubleClick Search with the click of a button. You can even schedule syncs to automatically occur or repeat. (Now, if only it were this easy in a relationship!)
Display remarketing from search ads. Don’t leave the conversation hanging. Leverage cross-channel opportunities from the DoubleClick integrated platform with display remarketing from search ads, which lets you “follow up” on search ad clicks and remarket to specific audiences across ad exchanges, via DoubleClick Bid Manager or the Google Display Network, based on their interaction with your paid search ads.

Explore together
Being routine with your campaigns can quickly have you falling into a rut. Exciting launches filled with new keyword additions and optimization can quickly turn into the comfortable complacency of ordering in pizza, watching reruns on TV, and running your campaigns on autopilot. Don’t settle for the ho-hum; stay committed to the next chapter of your search campaigns with DoubleClick Search tools, to make sure they pay off:

Landing page testing. Show your search campaign some love by pairing your keywords with the best landing page. With landing page testing in DoubleClick Search, split traffic between several landing pages and then compare the results to help choose the landing page that delivers the best results.
Formula columns. Be creative -- ditch the spreadsheets and explore new surroundings with Formula columns that allow you to create your own customized columns directly in the DoubleClick Search interface. Access a wide variety of different metrics computed from DoubleClick Search data, or rename columns.

Don’t wait until the last minute
...Not with dinner reservations, and certainly not with your search campaigns. Relationships require regular maintenance; read the signs early and understand your campaign needs to make the most informed decisions for the best results. Here are a few DoubleClick Search tools that can help you analyze your campaigns up to the minute, so you can plan accordingly:

Instant conversions. Stop the procrastination blame-game and act on every signal, as it happens. DoubleClick Search now loads instant conversion data from Floodlight in all its reports -- in addition to the engine performance data we already update in near-real time -- to bring you the freshest, most reliable campaign data. Conversion data in DoubleClick Search is updated automatically throughout the day, minutes after a conversion happens.

Happy Valentine’s Day from DoubleClick Search! 

To follow more updates from DoubleClick Search, subscribe to the DoubleClick Search Blog.

(1) Source: ComScore Inc. Press Release, 2011
(2) GroupM research: From intent to in-store: Search’s role in the new retail shopper profile, 2011


[G] AdWords Express is now available through My Client Center

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Inside AdWords: AdWords Express is now available through My Client Center

As AdWords Express continues to grow (now available internationally in 15 countries), our AdWords Premier SMB Partners have asked us to make it easier for them to tap into AdWords Express for their clients. We’re happy to announce that starting today, these partners, along with agencies and other third parties, can create and manage AdWords Express accounts at scale through My Client Center (MCC).

Using AdWords Express via MCC can save agencies and other third parties time and overhead by eliminating day-to-day management for local, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). AdWords Express complements existing AdWords services provided by agencies today by offering them a new option to help SMBs get started quickly with online marketing.

Third parties can now create new accounts by simply selecting ‘AdWords Express’ through the MCC.
Get more details and instructions on using AdWords Express through MCC in the AdWords Express Help Center.

Steve Curry, President and CEO of, a site serving millions of Canadians, has the following to say about AdWords Express:

"We have been using AdWords Express through MCC in a beta trial and have found it to be very simple to set up. Since AdWords Express doesn't need ongoing account optimization, it's a great tool for us to be able to efficiently deliver a valuable advertising solution to our SMB advertisers.” 

For more resources on My Client Center and other tools to effectively manage large accounts at scale, visit the AdWords Help Center.

Posted by Nicholas Boos, Product Manager

[G] Upgrade To The Next Generation Mobile App Analytics Platform

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Google Analytics Blog: Upgrade To The Next Generation Mobile App Analytics Platform

Spring is coming right around the corner and it's never a bad idea to get a head start on your spring cleaning! The same goes for your mobile app analytics solution. Have you switched over to our new Mobile App Analytics Platform (v2) yet? The benefits are numerous:

A more powerful mobile SDK

  • We are providing a new mobile app analytics solution, solving the problem that there is currently no single repository to understand end-to-end value of mobile app users. This is supported by a more powerful mobile SDK (v2.0) that is easy to implement.

“One stop shop” for app measurement

  • Understanding app performance holistically through acquisition, engagement and outcome is critical to improve mobile app results, optimize user engagement and increase revenue generated. Our new reports show the entire lifecycle. 

Improve ROI and engagement

  • App developers and brands can make better, more comprehensive data-driven decisions for mobile investments with better reports. For example, marketers can optimize their mobile programs to improve ROI and app developers can improve in-app engagement.  

Though we call it “Version 2,” the truth is that we didn’t just “upgrade” our original platform. We decided to rebuild the whole thing from scratch. Our team at Google Analytics has reimagined mobile app analytics and have created a brand new experience tailored specifically for mobile app developers, providing reports on the data you care most about, in the language you understand. In addition, we also completely rebuilt our Android and iOS SDKs to be even more lightweight, efficient, and faster.

We’re continuing to build and add features to this platform all the time. So if you haven’t migrated yet, now is the perfect time to do it and find out exactly what you're missing out on. 

To make it easy to migrate, we’ve put together a Migration Guide for Android and iOS to help you make the move.

And if you’re new to Mobile App Analytics, check out the Getting Started Guide for Android or iOS to get your app up and running with Google Analytics in minutes.

Posted by Calvin Lee, Google Analytics Team


[G] Google Apps Prepares Prudential Georgia Realty Agents For The Future

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Apps Prepares Prudential Georgia Realty Agents For The Future

Posted by Tony Floyd, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer at Prudential Georgia Realty

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Tony Floyd, Chief Marketing Officer at Prudential Georgia Realty, metro Atlanta's largest real estate brokerage. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Prudential Georgia Realty, our associates work hard to deliver valuable services to their clients. Their work ethic and great skills have helped us become the largest real estate company in the Greater Metro Atlanta area. We were recently named by REALTrends as one of only 17 real estate companies in the country to increase its sales volume, agent headcount and agent productivity over the last 10 years.

With more than 1,000 agents in 22 offices, spread out over 43 counties around Atlanta, it is critical for our agents and staff to communicate efficiently with current and potential clients. Communication is the backbone of our business - our agents have to manage a lot of contacts, files, photos and other information and they need access on their mobile devices. We had two separate email systems, a hosted Microsoft® Exchange 2007 server for employees and an open source solution for our agents. We wanted to migrate to a single system that allowed us to support the transition to a more virtual working environment and foster better collaboration internally. Another consideration was the ability for our agents to organize and manage their contacts into groups so they could run campaigns and stay in contact using any of their devices. After a careful evaluation, we decided to move to the Google Apps platform.

We migrated the employees to Google Apps in December and have already seen an improvement in our communication. When our agents go live, Google Apps will help them run their business from any location using any device. Google Groups will let agents easily organize and manage their client and contact lists, so with one click they can send more relevant marketing content to a specific group of people. Most importantly, since it’s all in the cloud, these Groups will automatically sync to any device so the agent can follow up with a personal phone call.

Google Drive allows us to share large files and documents and manage the security at the same time. We plan to implement Google Sites, so each branch or division will have a searchable and sharable place to store information like a high resolution photos. Teams can work together on projects more effectively and collaborate on live documents. Agents will now be able to create personalized Google Sites tailored to specialized groups of prospects like first time buyers, baby boomers, or potential luxury home buyers.

Real estate is a very competitive business. Google Apps puts the information at our fingertips, which gives us a leg up. Leveraging the right technology can be game changing for the real estate industry, and we’re excited to be a leader in that effort.

[G] Haters and Celebrators Unite: This Valentine’s Day, There’s Something for Everybody on YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Haters and Celebrators Unite: This Valentine’s Day, There’s Something for Everybody on YouTube

Every year on February 14, we see endless pairings of pink and red, while our reactions remain pretty black and white. This polarizing holiday tends to inspire only one of two passionate responses: Valentine’s Day stinks--or it rocks. Depending on whom you ask, it’s a special day to shower your loved one with sweet nothings and gifts galore, or a saccharine minefield of prix fixe menus and overpriced chocolates.

Whether you’re toasting St. Valentine with champagne and long-stemmed roses, or fighting off nausea at the sight of every teddy bear and heart-shaped cupcake, YouTube is the place to be. This is all rather apropos given YouTube’s roots. A little known fact: we registered our domain on Valentine's Day.

This year, we canoodled with some of our partners and our Trends Manager Kevin Allocca to find the right videos for romantics and eye-rollers alike.

True romantics will swoon over the most-viewed proposals of all time while singing along to our top cheesy love songs.

All the single ladies (and gentlemen) may want to sharpen their A-game by studying our worst pickup lines list and the science of love lessons, which teach the essentials, such as how to stay out of the "friend zone."

And for those who spend today counting the hours ‘til the 15th can play our break-up ballads at full blast and bask in some schadenfreude while taking in marriage proposal fails. On second thought, if you’re pondering the merits of popping The Question today, you might want to check that out, too (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Enjoy hating or celebrating today and check out all of our Valentine’s Day playlists at

Chelsea Maughan, Communications Manager, recently watched "I Swear (Official Music Video) - All 4 One."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

[G] Melange:Tips and Tricks for Users

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Google Open Source Blog: Melange:Tips and Tricks for Users

What happens when you “lock” 4 engineers and 4 program managers in a room together for 5 days? Besides a bunch of coffee cups, empty energy drink bottles, and a variety of healthy and non-healthy snack remnants, you get two books written to help users of Melange, the open source software that administers the Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in programs.

In January, Melange developers and members of the Google Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) collaborated on two books that we hope will help users of Melange understand the many functionalities of the software. The main purpose of this document sprint (by day 4 it was more like a marathon), was to help prospective students and open source organizations use the software efficiently and to its fullest capacity. All of us in OSPO also learned a ton about using the software as Program Administrators.

Our terrific facilitator, Adam Hyde of Floss Manuals, started the week off early Monday morning with a lengthy brainstorming session with well over a hundred post-it notes scattered on whiteboards in various categories. We started to see how the sections of the book would evolve and then we organized the post-its into our potential chapters. Then the writing began, and boy, did we write! The book is designed not only to answer questions, but to be a step-by- step guide for each role a person might encounter when using the Melange software. We created dummy accounts and took screenshots so that we could see everything a person in that particular role (mentor, student, organization administrator or program administrator) would see.

The first couple of days were spent writing, reading over each other’s work and adding to each other’s sections. When you have 8 people writing different parts of a book you end up with considerably different tones and many style questions.  One large whiteboard was covered with style decisions that we all agreed on, from whether to capitalize “Student” every time it was used to when to use italics versus quotes.

Throughout the week we posed questions to each other and filed bugs on software and UI issues. By Wednesday we had a pretty solid book that then needed to have copy edits and some additional screenshots added.  While part of the group worked on the edits and tweaks some of the Melange engineers worked on fixing many of the bugs and UI issues uncovered.

Having Melange engineers and users (OSPO team) in the same room going through the process from the student, mentor, organization administrator and program administrator perspective was enlightening to say the least.  The engineers were able to explain some features that we didn’t realize worked in a certain way, we all talked through bugs and additional ideas for features, and having the engineers working alongside us to fix and implement these ideas was awesome!

The Open Source programs office has hosted 2 other document sprints with the Floss Manuals team in the last 15 months but this was the first time we were the ones heads down with our noses to the grindstone.  The book sprint process is not for the faint of heart but having a solid book on our software that users can refer to (and the writers too!) is extremely satisfying and a great way to start off the new year.

If you are interested in the finished products you can view them online:  Melange - Google Summer of Code and our Melange - Google Code-in manuals. While you’re there, check out the other manuals that Adam and his team have helped create. Your project could be next!

By Google Open Source Programs team


[G] New Google Now: More of the information you need, at just the right time.

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Official Android Blog: New Google Now: More of the information you need, at just the right time.

When computers do the hard work, you can get on with the things that matter in life. Google Now helps you do just that, giving you the information you need, before you even have to ask. Like updating you with flight times, pulling up your boarding pass when you arrive at the airport, or showing you the weather at your next travel destination. Today, we’re making Google Now even more useful by integrating new partners and making all your information even easier to access.

Going to the movies? Movie cards now include the latest ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, so you can pick the right movie. Purchase your tickets through Fandango, and Google Now will remind you when you need to leave for the theater, and pull up your tickets once you arrive.

In the market for a new home? Google Now can provide you with nearby real estate listings from Zillow. Plus, when you are checking out that remodeled kitchen at the open house, Now will automatically pull up more information about the listing.

Of course, all of this information is most helpful when it’s front and center and ready when you are. The new Google Now widget brings all your important Now cards to your home or lock screen, so you don’t even have to open the app.

When Google Now first launched last summer, we promised it was just the beginning, and it would continue to get better at delivering you more of the information you need, before you even ask. This is the fourth update since launch, and we’re just getting started!

To try out these new cards, get the latest version of the Google Search app for Android, available on Google Play for devices running Android 4.1 and above.

Posted by Baris Gultekin, Product Management Director

[G] Multi-Currency E-Commerce Support In Google Analytics

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Analytics Blog: Multi-Currency E-Commerce Support In Google Analytics

We’ve listened to your feedback and have heard the requests loud and clear: E-Commerce should support multiple currencies. We’re pleased to announce the launch of this feature which will be rolling out to all users over the next few weeks. 

Multi-Currency support for eCommerce provides Google Analytics users with the ability to track transaction metrics (total revenue, tax, and shipping & handling) in multiple local currencies within a single web property. And Google Analytics will convert them into the one currency based on your profile setting. This provides key benefits for e-commerce brands looking to conduct analysis across an international customer base and helps make some previously complex reporting easier.

New metrics supported in multi-currency

Multi-Currency tracking code implementation:
Multi-currency is supported by both ga.js and analytics.js. (learn more about code snippets here).

The ‘currency code’ is a global setting that can be set via tracker ‘_set()’. It only need to be set once, unless the page is sending multiple transactions in separate currencies.

Here are a few other things we think you’ll want to know:

How the conversion rate is decided?
The conversion rate is pulled from currency server which is serving Google Billing. The value is the daily exchange rate of the day before hit date.

Which currency does GA support?
We support currencies which are available in GA profile currency dropdown menu. Right now, 31 currencies altogether are supported.

Currency dropdown menu

Which currency code shall I use?
A full version of currency codes shared across Google products is available on the Google Developers site.

Can I retro-process my history transaction data?
Only from the day you started using multi-currency support, you can get both local and global value. 

Several companies have already started using Multi-Currency in Google Analytics and are seeing great results. David Tjen, Director of Analytics at reports:

"Google Analytics' new multi-currency feature increases sales metric accuracy for As an international brand, the AllPosters family of sites supports 20 currencies across 25 countries. Previously, manual adjustments were required before we could read sales metrics in Google Analytics when we had transactions with large currency conversion ratios to the US dollar, such as the Mexican Peso and Japanese Yen. The simple code update solves the issue by automatically converting all transactions to the primary currency on each site, providing sales metrics that allow us to make faster decisions with our web analytics data.”

To get started today, view our help center page with detailed instructions on how to begin.

Posted by Wayne Xu, Google Analytics team

[G] Optimizing for conversions made easy with Search Funnels data in your AdWords tabs

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Inside AdWords: Optimizing for conversions made easy with Search Funnels data in your AdWords tabs

Search Funnels show you how users search for products before converting, allowing you to make better informed decisions in AdWords. Now, we're making it easier than ever to incorporate Search Funnels data into your everyday optimizations by introducing new Search Funnels columns that you can simply add to your campaign, ad group, keyword and ads tabs.  You should see this feature available in your account within the next couple of days.

If you’ve enabled conversion tracking, you’ll be able to see a new section within the column customizer for Search Funnels.  This section will allow you to add columns for many common Search Funnels metrics, such as assist clicks, click assisted conversions, and assist impressions.

If you’ve already enabled AdWords conversion tracking and are ready to get started, you can try some of our favorite optimization techniques:
  • Find keywords that are best at assisting conversions -  Look for keywords with low conversion rates and a high click-assisted conversions / last-click conversion ratio. These keywords contribute significant conversion assists, meaning they are important early in the buying cycle as they drive visitors who are still researching your site. Consider setting up automated rules to increase your bids when conversion assists cross a certain threshold.   Also, try creating a separate ad group for these keywords with ads that are geared more towards research than immediate purchase.
  • Pay your assist keywords their fair share -  Make sure you’re not underbidding for keywords with assist clicks. You could be missing conversions if your bid management strategy only accounts for last-click conversions. Keywords with assist clicks are in the click path of users who eventually convert, so it’s important to assign value to these keywords.
  • Update your underperforming ads - Consider revising ads that have impression-assisted conversions and have a strong average position. These ads were shown to users who eventually converted but who did not click. Entice potential customers to visit your site with stronger call-to-action phrases in your ad creative. You may also want to consider raising your bids on these keywords if your average position is low to ensure that people see your ads.
Success in action

Jimdo, an international Internet company helping people build their own websites, talked to us about their success using Search Funnels columns:

Using the Search Funnels columns in AdWords has allowed us to both improve the volume of sales and efficiency that AdWords delivers.

By using these columns, and in particular the ratio of assisted conversions to last click conversions, we are able to identify and value keywords that play an important role in the upper funnel. Now knowing their importance, we improved our bids for these keywords, and have seen overall conversions increase by 30% and our ROI increase by 16%.

For more details on how to enable Search Funnels columns in your core reports, visit our help center.

Posted By Dan Friedman, Product Manager, AdWords

[G] U.S. Naval Academy goes mobile with Google Apps for Government

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: U.S. Naval Academy goes mobile with Google Apps for Government

Posted by Lou Giannotti, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Naval Academy

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Lou Giannotti, CIO at the United States Naval Academy, the undergraduate institution of the United States naval service.

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) has graduated more than 78,000 young men and women to serve in America’s naval service since being founded in 1845. The technological landscape of the country has changed dramatically over the past decade, and USNA has kept pace by providing its students, called midshipmen, with the educational resources required to be effective Navy and Marine Corps officers upon graduation.

Similar to other top educational institutions such as the Ivy League schools, Stanford and MIT, USNA is in constant flux and continuously trying to stay on the technological cutting edge. Thousands of midshipmen enter and depart each year, all requiring mandatory and standardized email addresses and account changes. This presents a significant challenge of ensuring old email accounts are properly deleted and new accounts created quickly. Faculty, staff, and midshipmen rely on a wide array of smartphones and tablets for communication and collaboration.

For years, USNA employed an appliance-based email solution that offered secure communications, but proved to be expensive and limiting over time. USNA paid a hefty license fee for every mobile device accessing email. With the exploding mobile component of the environment, we sought an alternative solution.

During an analytical review of alternatives, USNA discovered the bulk of the 4,400 midshipmen were using personal Gmail accounts. USNA embarked on a trial of Google Apps for Government, providing midshipmen Gmail while allowing USNA to protect school data from uncontrolled exposure to the public domain. It provided a full suite of communication and collaboration tools such as Docs and Calendar. Coincidently, Google Apps for Government also provided universal mobile access with no additional licensing costs.

USNA began with 100 users putting Google Apps through its paces, including testing much needed capabilities like using Calendar to schedule resources like rooms and equipment, and sharing documents for collaborative efforts. Following a successful trial, phase two included applying Google Apps to all faculty, staff, and midshipmen. Today, Google Apps supports approximately 7,200 users at USNA.

We use Gmail the most, with some faculty using its chat feature to communicate with midshipmen for official purposes. USNA maintains roughly four terabytes of mail without the burden of operating onsite storage and backup systems. More and more users are also taking advantage of Docs and Calendar. In fact, the midshipmen and faculty create an average of 5,000 Google Docs daily. Users enjoy the sharing capabilities, enabling greater collaboration. This is enhanced further as Google Apps allows access on any device users choose.

Google Apps provides USNA with flexibility and enables management of the constant change of midshipmen turnover at a lower cost than before. The mobile access alone makes Google Apps a worthwhile investment at $50 per person. It lets us make better use of the taxpayer’s dollars. The greatest value is the ease of creating and sharing information between midshipmen, faculty, and other institutions making Google Apps a core collaborative asset in the educational process.