Saturday, March 2, 2013

[G] Join AdWords and DoubleClick Search at SMX West in San Jose

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Inside AdWords: Join AdWords and DoubleClick Search at SMX West in San Jose

SMX West kicks off on March 11, and the AdWords and DoubleClick Search teams hope to see you there!

During the first two days of SMX West, Google will be on the floor to help you learn how to engage your audiences in a constantly connected world. Below are some of the activities that we’ll be hosting across the 3-day conference:

March 11, 2012, 5-6pm - Enhancing AdWords for a Constantly Connected World
Join Google AdWords’ special enhanced campaigns presentation on Monday, March 11 at 5pm, where Lead Product Manager Surojit Chatterjee will discuss key features and changes with enhanced campaigns, give tips on getting started, and answer your questions.

March 11 -12, all day - Learn and win with DoubleClick Search
Visit the DoubleClick Search lounge at Booth 401 to learn about how we’re making search marketing faster, smarter, and better. Watch our videos, get a glimpse of some of our newest features through demos, play games, and engage with our team to see how we’re helping you run effective search campaigns across devices, as well as across channels. Tweet what you learned using hashtag #dsSMX for a chance to win a Nexus 7 tablet!

The full SMX West agenda can be found here. Be sure to check out our other Google speakers at the following panels:
Still haven’t registered? Enter discount code SMXW13google (case sensitive) and save 10%. Expo passes are free and get you into the AdWords and DoubleClick Search events.

We hope to see you in San Jose!

Kim Doan, Product Marketing Manager, DoubleClick Search

Friday, March 1, 2013

[G] Dare to try: a story of summer triumph

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Google Open Source Blog: Dare to try: a story of summer triumph

Guest post by Anna Senarclens de Grancy, former Google Summer of Code student and recent mentor for Systers 

Check out this inspirational story from a previous Google Summer of Code student (for 2 years) who went on to become a two time Google Summer of Code mentor in the program. If other students are unsure of whether they have what it takes to get involved in the program, read on and consider applying to Google Summer of Code 2013.

This is my story of how I did what anybody could have done but not everybody would. I dared to try something new and found out that with a little bit of guts, some luck, and support from people at Systers I can do almost anything. 
My mum realized I’d likely become an engineer when at the age of two I was managing  multiple remote controls better than most adults. Later on I confirmed her beliefs by attending a technical upper secondary school followed by a technical university. After some time in college I had to pick what field of engineering to pursue. I took an introductory course programming in Ada with a friend who told me there was no way I could do CS. I took this quite hard because, even though I wasn’t very good at it, programming had been a lot of fun. As a result, I decided to pick mechanical engineering instead of CS which means that I’m not a computer scientist. Then a friendly computer geek passionate about open source software introduced me to this whole new world. 
Newly inspired I realized I wanted to give CS a second chance, this time as a hobby. I got some books on Python and began learning on my own in the evenings and during weekends. Learning from a book is all fine but there is only so much one can do before one wants a challenge and to try something out for real. Someone suggested I check out Google Summer of Code, and when I did, I found Systers. I was fascinated by their mission and  since they were offering a project in Python for beginners, I gave it a try. I had never really done any real programming before, nor did I have any experience with databases or distributed revision control. My Python knowledge was mainly from books and I hadn’t taken many computer science classes in college. I had a lot to learn, but you can hardly imagine how much fun I had doing it! I dared myself to try and ended up having the summer of my life. Sure there were hard times trying to understand the code, what to do, and how to do it. In my ignorance I changed, moved, and removed enough things on my computer to have to reinstall Ubuntu three times and Mailman probably five or six times. I had sleepless nights sitting in front of the computer coding, and when I slept I dreamt of bugs. I added what seemed like a million debug statements and often got nonsense back (at that time I didn’t know how to use a debugger). 
Once I solved my first bug and got the taste of success and the feeling of I might actually be able to do this, I was hooked. So much fun! Such great feedback from Systers, they were always friendly, patient, and willing to help answer my questions. It’s such an ego boost when you solve that one problem you’ve been working on for days or even weeks. I dared to try something new and ended up learning a lot and having a great time while doing so. I lived the dream and also got to know amazing people along the way. The only thing it took was making that first step. 
Have you ever considered how easy it might be to fix a bug in your favorite open source software program? I encourage each of you to give it a try! 
By Anna Senarclens de Grancy, Google Summer of Code former student and mentor

As this story illustrates, you don’t have to be a CS major or have 10 years of coding experience to be a part of Google Summer of Code, you just need to have a desire to learn and to push yourself. The participating mentoring organizations will be announced on April 8th, students then have two weeks to discuss application ideas with the organizations. On April 22nd, student applications open for Google Summer of Code 2013.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

[G] Making the cloud more accessible with Chrome and Android

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Official Blog: Making the cloud more accessible with Chrome and Android

If you’re a blind or low-vision user, you know that working in the cloud poses unique challenges. Our accessibility team had an opportunity to address some of those challenges at the 28th annual CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference this week. While there, we led a workshop on how we’ve been improving the accessibility of Google technologies. For all those who weren’t at the conference, we want to share just a few of those improvements and updates:

Chrome and Google Apps
  • Chrome OS now supports a high-quality text-to-speech voice (starting with U.S. English). We’ve also made spoken feedback, along with screen magnification and high-contrast mode available out-of-the-box to make Chromebook and Chromebox setup easier for users with accessibility needs.
  • Gmail now has a consistent navigation interface, backed by HTML5 ARIA, which enables blind and low-vision users to effectively navigate using a set of keyboard commands.
  • It’s now much easier to access content in your Google Drive using a keyboard—for example, you can navigate a list of files with just the arrow keys. In Docs, you can access features using the keyboard, with a new way to search menu and toolbar options. New keyboard shortcuts and verbalization improvements also make it easier to use Docs, Sheets and Slides with a screenreader.
  • The latest stable version of Chrome, released last week, includes support for the Web Search API, which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their apps. At CSUN, our friends from Bookshare demonstrated how they use this new functionality to deliver ReadNow—a fully integrated ebook reader for users with print disabilities.
  • Finally, we released a new Help Center Guide specifically for blind and low-vision users to ease the transition to using Google Apps.

  • We added Braille support to Android 4.1; since then, Braille support has been expanded on Google Drive for Android, making it easier to read and edit your documents. You can also use Talkback with Docs and Sheets to edit on the go.
  • With Gesture Mode in Android 4.1, you can reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
  • Screen magnification is now built into Android 4.2—just enable “Magnification gestures,” then triple tap to enter full screen magnification.
  • The latest release of TalkBack (available on Play soon) includes several highly-requested features like structured browsing of web content and the ability to easily suspend/resume TalkBack via an easy-to-use radial menu.

These updates to Chrome, Google Apps, and Android will help create a better overall experience for our blind and low-vision users, but there’s still room for improvement. Looking ahead, we’re focused on the use of accessibility APIs that will make it easier for third-party developers to create accessible web applications, as well as pushing the state of the art forward with technologies like speech recognition and text-to-speech. We’re looking forward to working with the rest of the industry to make computers and the web more accessible for everyone.

Posted by T.V. Raman, Engineering Lead, Google Accessibility

[G] Compress Data More Densely with Zopfli

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Google Open Source Blog: Compress Data More Densely with Zopfli

The Zopfli Compression Algorithm is a new, open sourced general purpose data compression library that got its name from a Swiss bread recipe. It is an implementation of the Deflate compression algorithm that creates a smaller output size compared to previous techniques. The smaller compressed size allows for better space utilization, faster data transmission, and lower web page load latencies. Furthermore, the smaller compressed size has additional benefits in mobile use, such as lower data transfer fees and reduced battery use. The higher data density is achieved by using more exhaustive compression techniques, which make the compression a lot slower, but do not affect the decompression speed. The exhaustive method is based on iterating entropy modeling and a shortest path search algorithm to find a low bit cost path through the graph of all possible deflate representations.

The output generated by Zopfli is typically 3–8% smaller compared to zlib at maximum compression, and we believe that Zopfli represents the state of the art in Deflate-compatible compression. Zopfli is written in C for portability. It is a compression-only library; existing software can decompress the data. Zopfli is bit-stream compatible with compression used in gzip, Zip, PNG, HTTP requests, and others.

Due to the amount of CPU time required, 2–3 orders of magnitude more than zlib at maximum quality, Zopfli is best suited for applications where data is compressed once and sent over a network many times — for example, static content for the web. By open sourcing Zopfli, thus allowing webmasters to better optimize the size of frequently accessed static content, we hope to make the Internet a bit faster for all of us.

By Lode Vandevenne, Software Engineer, Compression Team


[G] Understanding the full value of mobile: adidas and RadioShack drive in-store traffic with mobile

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Inside AdWords: Understanding the full value of mobile: adidas and RadioShack drive in-store traffic with mobile

We live in a multi-screen world where people are constantly connected and moving seamlessly across devices. Not only do mobile devices keep us connected anytime and anywhere, but they play an increasingly important role in shopping, both online and offline. With mobile, consumers no longer just take linear paths to purchase that begin and end on the same device. Instead, there are a range of customer journeys - like starting on a smartphone and ultimately buying in-store, continuing on a different device, or making a phone call.

This era of mobility is bridging the digital and physical worlds, so marketers need to fully understand mobile’s impact both online and offline, and evaluate how each of these actions applies to their business. Here’s a look at two brands who’ve invested in understanding the full value of their mobile efforts:

Being locally relevant is key for any brick and mortar business, and adidas worked with its agency iProspect to leverage mobile’s power to reach local customers. They recognized that in order to build an effective mobile presence, they had to pivot their thinking to understand how mobile drives value beyond mobile commerce, particularly in-store sales. “If we look at a 1:1 response or 1:1 measurement of what our media budget is driving on a mobile site, we're missing a big part of that picture. As performance marketers, a lot of the times we look at direct responses, and what mobile is requiring us to do is redefining direct response," says Kerri Smith, head of mobility at iProspect.

adidas and iProspect partnered to estimate the value of each store locator click on their mobile website. Based on internal benchmarks, iProspect theorized that 1 out of every 5 people who visited the mobile site store locator page went into an adidas store. In-store conversion data from adidas indicated that around 13% of shoppers who go into stores completed a purchase, and that their average order value is $71. Since an active search usually demonstrates stronger intent to purchase, iProspect applied a 20% conversion rate and an $80 average order value. As a result, they determined that 4% of the people who clicked on a store locator translated into an actual sale for adidas, meaning that each store locator click is worth $3.20.

To put that in perspective, for a hypothetical mobile investment of $1 million, in-store sales from store locator clicks was an extra $1.58 million beyond direct mobile purchases. [Download the full case study here]

To fully understand how mobile drives in-store sales, RadioShack collaborated with its agency Mindshare to redefine mobile success: “User behavior is much different on smartphone compared to the desktop experience. It became obvious that to be successful, we had to measure mobile performance by focusing on different criteria,” says Lisa Little, Search Marketing Manager at RadioShack.

RadioShack worked with Mindshare to understand how mobile impacted foot traffic into stores. Using mobile search ads to promote their mobile site, they found that 36% of the clicks were going to the store locator page. Based on internal studies, the teams estimated that 40-60% of people who used the store locator on a mobile device visited a store. RadioShack’s internal analytics team also determined that approximately 85% of customers who visited the store as a result of the store locator made a purchase in store. [Download the full case study here]

A holistic view of the mobile customer
This new model can help marketers better understand the return on investment they’re getting from their mobile efforts. Both companies also found mobile success because they developed a holistic view of their mobile customers and created strong synergies across all marketing channels. For example, RadioShack’s social, email, digital, video and search marketing teams work collectively to create the best user experience possible for mobile customers. Little says, “This allows us to better understand the behavioral path of our customers, from the initial research phase through the final purchase stage including all the marketing they were exposed to along the way. To be successful, you have to adopt this holistic vision of the mobile user behavior.”

Posted by: Julie Pottier, Product Marketing Manager, Mobile Ads

[G] Bringing the power of Google Maps Engine to Envista’s IRIS platform

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Bringing the power of Google Maps Engine to Envista’s IRIS platform

Posted by Mark Prestipino, CEO at Envista

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Mark Prestipino, Envista CEO. Looking for ways to provide enhanced map capabilities to its utilities customers, Envista talks about integrating Google Maps Engine into its IRIS technology. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

With miles and miles of underground pipeline and transmission lines to manage, the ability for our utility customers to quickly locate and keep track of their assets is vital to running a successful operation. Thanks to Google Maps Engine, we've been able to create a powerful map platform that makes this all possible.

IRIS, our newest solution for the utility industry, is a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology that allows an organization to develop custom map applications without the need for complex coding. Incorporating an organization’s business and location data into a single platform, IRIS apps provides the location-relevant information needed to efficiently maintain critical assets in the field.

The secret behind our IRIS technology is Google Maps Engine, which gives our customers three key benefits:

  • Scale: Founded on Google’s core infrastructure, Google Maps Engine provides IRIS users with unrivaled scale and reliability. This enables the information and image-processing power needed to store, manage and publish maps with layers and layers of high resolution geospatial data. 
  • Familiarity: IRIS apps users can see their data visualized on a Google Map. This simple user interface -- combined with the incredible, up-to-date imagery of Google Earth -- lets people build their own map applications and understand what they see on a map with very little training. 
  • Mobility: With pipeline and asset management primarily taking place in the field, access to map data anytime, anywhere is critical. The Google Maps Engine cloud platform allows IRIS maps to be used in almost any environment -- mobile, remote or offline.

Maps are an invaluable tool for the utilities industry -- and so is scalable, simple-to-use technology. When it comes to providing our utilities customers with a map solution they can rely on, Google Maps Engine is the clear choice for us.

[G] Enhanced campaigns in AdWords Editor 10.0

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Inside AdWords: Enhanced campaigns in AdWords Editor 10.0

You can now use AdWords Editor to upgrade and manage enhanced campaigns. Once you install AdWords Editor 10.0, you'll be able to:
  • Upgrade campaigns to enhanced, either individually or in bulk.
  • Set campaign level bid adjustments for mobile devices. 
  • Set bid adjustments for targeted locations.
  • Specify device preferences for individual ads (Mobile or All). 
For more details about these changes and other updates, see our AdWords Editor 10.0 release notes. For a detailed description of enhanced campaigns, please visit this overview article in the AdWords Help Center.

The next time you launch AdWords Editor, you'll see a prompt to upgrade to version 10.0. To learn more about upgrading, including how to keep unposted changes and comments when you upgrade, please review these instructions. You can also download version 10.0 from the AdWords Editor website

Support for previous versions of AdWords Editor will continue for four months to allow you time to upgrade. To ensure uninterrupted use of AdWords Editor, you will need to upgrade by June 28, 2013.

Posted by Rob Newton, Inside AdWords crew

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

[G] Support Free Expression: Vote for the Netizen of the Year

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YouTube Blog: Support Free Expression: Vote for the Netizen of the Year

One in three Internet users suffers from restricted access to the web due to government censorship, filtering or online surveillance, according to the free expression advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. Around the world, bloggers and cyber-dissidents are jailed for expressing their views. Reporters Without Borders makes sure their struggles are not forgotten.

We believe in a free and open Internet where everyone can express their opinions and learn from others. For this reason, for the past several years we’ve partnered with Reporters Without Borders to organize their annual Netizen of the Year Award, which honors an Internet user, blogger or cyber-dissident who has made a notable contribution in defense of online freedom of expression.

This year for the first time, Reporters Without Borders is asking you to help decide who will win the award. Nine “netizens”—from Bulgaria, Egypt, Honduras, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mali, Russia, Senegal and Vietnam—have been nominated for consideration. Watch the videos showing their stories and then vote at

We hope you’ll be as inspired as we have been by these brave people. The winner, based on votes from people like you around the world, will be announced on March 7. He or she will be invited to the award ceremony taking place at Google’s Paris office on March 12—the World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

Posted by Florian Maganza, Policy Analyst, Paris


[G] Updates to AdWords Terms & Conditions In Some Countries

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Inside AdWords: Updates to AdWords Terms & Conditions In Some Countries

The following changes apply to customers in all countries and territories in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America except Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

If you’re using AdWords, you’ve agreed to our Terms and Conditions. These are important so we have a common understanding in basic areas like
policy, cancellation, payment, dispute resolution and liability.  

With the advancements in our ad platforms and global growth, we need to make a few changes to keep up. So we'll be rolling out an updated set of Terms and Conditions on February 27th to AdWords customers throughout North America, Central America, and South America (full list).

What’s New
One of the main changes you’ll notice in the updated terms is that they accommodate new advertising products and services. For example, we offer third-party ad serving in some situations, so you’ll see provisions about how we resolve ad serving disputes. Other changes include updated links to our policies and better consistency among our advertising terms globally.

Important Action Needed
You will have 45 days to review and accept the new AdWords Terms and Conditions. If you don’t accept them within 45 days, your ad serving may be paused until you’ve reviewed and agreed to them.

To review and accept the new AdWords Terms and Conditions, just sign in to your account at You’ll automatically be taken to a page with the updated terms and conditions. Then click to indicate your acceptance.

More Information
We encourage you to read through the updated terms carefully.  For more information about this change to our Terms and Conditions, including a complete list of countries and territories where these changes apply, please visit the AdWords Help Center.

Posted by Mark Martel, the Google Ads Team

[G] Support free expression: Vote for the Netizen of the Year

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Official Blog: Support free expression: Vote for the Netizen of the Year

One in three Internet users suffers from restricted access to the web due to government censorship, filtering or online surveillance, according to the free expression advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. Around the world, bloggers and cyber-dissidents are jailed for expressing their views. Reporters Without Borders makes sure their struggles are not forgotten.

We believe in a free and open Internet where everyone can express their opinions and learn from others. For this reason, for the past several years we’ve partnered with Reporters Without Borders to organize their annual Netizen of the Year Award, which honors an Internet user, blogger or cyber-dissident who has made a notable contribution in defense of online freedom of expression.

This year for the first time, Reporters Without Borders is asking you to help decide who will win the award. Nine “netizens”—from Bulgaria, Egypt, Honduras, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mali, Russia, Senegal and Vietnam—have been nominated for consideration. Watch the videos showing their stories and then vote at

We hope you’ll be as inspired as we have been by these brave people. The winner, based on votes from people like you around the world, will be announced on March 7. He or she will be invited to the award ceremony taking place at Google’s Paris office on March 12—the World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

Posted by Florian Maganza, Policy Analyst, Paris

[G] Race to win on big and small screens with Chrome Super Sync Sports

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Official Blog: Race to win on big and small screens with Chrome Super Sync Sports

Smartphones and tablets are great for all sorts of games, and lately we've been thinking about new ways to play. Chrome Super Sync Sports is a new Chrome Experiment that uses the unique features of mobile devices to create a new gaming experience on big and small screens. In this game up to four friends can compete in running, swimming and cycling on a shared computer screen, using their smartphones or tablets as game controllers.

To get started, you’ll need a computer and a smartphone or tablet that run a modern browser, like Chrome. Visit on your computer, pick a game and decide if you’re playing solo or with friends. Next, visit in Chrome on your smartphone or tablet and type in the unique code shown on your computer screen. You’ve now “super sync”ed your mobile device with your computer, and you’re ready to race!

Use the arrow pad on your smartphone or tablet to select one of 50 athletes and prepare yourself for the competition. The motions you make on your mobile touchscreen will move your athlete on your computer screen. To move your athlete forward and win the race, you need to make the correct gestures as quickly as possible. The better you are, the higher your chances of making it to the global leaderboard.

Select your athlete by using the keypad arrows on your mobile

Race using your smartphone or tablet touchscreen

Up to four friends can play using a shared computer screen

Chrome Super Sync Sports is available for Chrome v15 and above, and for Android 4.0+ and iOS 4.3+ devices. It uses the latest modern web technologies, including HTML5 features such as WebSockets for real-time gaming synchronicity on desktop and mobile, and Canvas and CSS3 for rich and engaging visuals. For more detailed information on the technologies used, see the “About” page.

On your marks, get set, race for your place on the World Leaderboard!

Posted by Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Google Creative Lab

[G] Google Apps Is a Hit At Classic Cinemas

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Apps Is a Hit At Classic Cinemas

Posted by Tristan Dobbs, Managing Director of IT for Classic Cinemas

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Tristan Dobbs, Technical Services Team Guru for Classic Cinemas, a family-owned movie theater chain based in Downers Grove, IL. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Classic Cinemas has been bringing families, couples, kids and film enthusiasts together in front of the silver screen for more than thirty years – around the time Christopher Reeve donned the famous tights and cape for “Superman” in 1978. Over the years, we’ve grown to 500 employees and over 13 movie theaters in and around Chicago. We’ve also outgrown the film technology we started with. After years of using 35-millimeter film projection systems, we upgraded to 4K Ultra High-Def Digital Projectors. We’re a true 21st century cinema.

When I joined the IT department in 2012, it was clear we were in need of another upgrade – this time, from our Microsoft Exchange server. We had ongoing issues with downtime that cost the company a lot of money and the IT team a lot of time. We looked into cloud-based systems and Google Apps was exactly what we needed – the 99.9 percent uptime sold us.

We switched to Google Apps with the help of Cloud Sherpas in August 2012 and couldn’t have been in better hands. At no point did we ever have a question that they couldn't answer. Data migration? They walked us through each step along the way and made sure we didn't lose a single megabyte. Change management? They ran webinars for all of our employees about moving from Outlook to Gmail, Word to Docs and Folders to Labels. They made switching feel seamless.

We created an employee intranet on Google Sites that houses all our necessary documents – employee schedules, upcoming screenings, movie schedules and parking lists, among others. This means everything important sits in one single place, and everyone on the team can access it. No more wild goose chases over email and no more bothering groups of people with email barrages.

Google Apps also helped us bring our maintenance request system up to date. Before we switched over, people wrote out their problems in a Word doc and emailed them to us, then we printed them out, tracked them on a bulletin board, and took them down one by one as the maintenance team went on-site to handle each issue. With Cloud Sherpas’ help, we built a Google Form on our intranet, so now everyone submits their requests online. The Form automatically feeds into a spreadsheet, which alerts the maintenance team that work needs to be done. We’ve been able to dramatically reduce administration time and boost our productivity to a new level. We now have complete history and statistics capabilities, as well as the ability to identify trends and be more proactive.

Just as digital technology helped us move into the modern era of film, Google Apps has helped us adapt to the future of business. It’s been a smash hit for us - just like “Superman” was back in the day.

[G] How you, and Google, can help prevent identity theft

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Google Public Policy Blog: How you, and Google, can help prevent identity theft

Posted by Pablo Chavez, Director, Public Policy

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission released its annual list of the top categories of consumer complaints received by the agency. In 2012, for the thirteenth year in a row, complaints about identity theft topped the list.

Identity theft has real consequences for consumers. It enables fraudsters to open lines of credit, drain banking, savings, and retirement accounts, file false tax returns, and falsify medical records. Victims often incur significant out-of-pocket expenses, spend considerable time trying to fix the problems created by the theft, and experience emotional stress as they attempt to repair the damage to their lives.

Keeping our users’ information safe and secure is among our highest priorities at Google, and we are continuously adjusting our security practices as threats from identity thieves and account hijackers evolve.

In 2010, we turned SSL encryption on by default for Gmail users to protect their messages from being snooped on by others, and have since extended this security measure to services like Google Search and Google Drive as well. In 2011, we made our 2-step verification service available for all Google Accounts so users could add an extra layer of security and protection to their account.

And as we noted last week when we saw spammers start to focus their attention on breaking into legitimate Google accounts in 2010, our security team further strengthened the Google Account sign-in process. This allowed us to reduce the number of accounts compromised by those specific kinds of attacks by 99.7 percent.

You can read more about how Google helps protect you from identity theft, and steps that you can take to help protect yourself and keep your family safe online on our Good to Know site. We encourage anyone concerned about online safety or identity theft to take five minutes today and do the following:

  • Make sure you are using strong, unique passwords for each of your important online accounts;
  • Make sure your account recovery options are up-to-date to help services contact you if there is a problem with your account; and
  • Turn on 2-step verification for your Google Account.

We’ll continue to work hard to protect our users and help make the Internet a safer place for everyone from threats like identity theft and online fraud. And to keep identity theft from making the consumer complaint list for a fourteenth year in a row, we look forward to working with other companies, NGOs, and the public sector on identifying emerging security threats and improving consumer education efforts.

[G] Let’s defend innovators against patent trolls

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Google Public Policy Blog: Let’s defend innovators against patent trolls

Posted by Suzanne Michel, Senior Patent Counsel

Patent trolls are hurting consumers and small businesses. Patent trolls don’t make anything of value to consumers, but rather extract profits from lawsuits against productive companies. Suits brought by trolls have quadrupled since 2005. They now account for 60% of all patent litigation and are disproportionately targeted at small businesses. In 2011 alone, companies spent $29 billion fighting trolls. That’s money that should have gone towards building great products, or creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving the troll problem, but Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) are taking steps in the right direction.

The trolls’ weapons of choice—used in 85% of their suits—are software patents, many of which are vague, overbroad and invalid. The PTO should improve patent quality by requiring better descriptions and clearer claims. Today at a PTO-sponsored event in New York, I spoke on how better application of established legal principles can help to curb the issuance of overbroad software patents.

We’ve also been encouraged by the PTO’s new partnership with the software community and its recent call for public comment on improving patent quality. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are also looking at the serious threat posed by trolls to both innovation and competition. As President Obama explained in his recent Fireside Hangout, trolls “don't actually produce anything themselves, they're just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else's idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”

Congress should also make it easier for companies to recover money spent defending against frivolous troll suits. Legislation, such as the bipartisan SHIELD Act re-introduced this week in the House, can do much to reduce troll litigation. And expanding the covered business method program of the America Invents Act to include more patents would create a robust alternative to litigation.

We look forward to continuing to work with the PTO, Congress and the software industry to find ways to improve patent quality, end the growing troll problem, and protect innovation and job growth.

[G] 5 Things You Should Be Doing With Google Mobile App Analytics Crash & Exception Measurement

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Analytics Blog: 5 Things You Should Be Doing With Google Mobile App Analytics Crash & Exception Measurement

When an app crashes, it disrupts the user experience, may cause data loss, and worst of all, might even cause users to uninstall the app altogether. As developers, we do our best to minimize crashes, but no app is ever perfectly stable.

A crash can actually represent a great opportunity to improve an app and one of the best things we can do as developers is to measure our crashes and exceptions.

The crashes and exceptions report in Google Mobile App Analytics.
Measuring crashes in your app can help you make better a product, make more money (if that’s your thing), and use your development resources more efficiently (especially if you are the only developer).

Google Mobile App Analytics offers easy-to-implement automated crash and exception measurement for Android and iOS as part of the V2 SDKs, as well as a host of reporting options to slice the data in context with all of the user engagement, goal completion, and in-app payments data you already know and love.

To help new developers get started, and to give existing developers some pointers, here are four things app developers should be doing today with Google Analytics crash and exception measurement:

1. Automate your crash measurement.
Want to measure app crashes but don’t want to deal with a complicated implementation? Fully automated crash measurement with Google Mobile App Analytics takes just one line of code to implement for Android or iOS:

<!-- Enable automatic crash measurement (Android) -->
<bool name=”ga_reportUncaughtExceptions”>true</bool>

// Enable automatic crash measurement (iOS).
[GAI sharedInstance].trackUncaughtExceptions = YES;

Implement automated crash measurement with just one line of code on Android or iOS.

Now each time your app crashes, the crash will be measured and sent to Google Analytics automatically. Try automated crash measurement now for Android or iOS.

2. Find out how stability is trending.
Are new releases increasing or reducing app crashes? Monitor the stability of your app from version to version by looking at crashes and exceptions by app version in the Crashes & Exceptions report.

If you are measuring the same app on two different platforms, like Android or iOS, you can break this view down further by selecting Platform as the secondary dimension.
View crashes and exceptions by app version number in the Crashes & Exceptions report. In this example, version 1.1.7 has crashed 7,285 times, while the latest version 2.0.0 has only crashed 91 times in the same period. Nice work dev team!
To graph crashes for two or more versions over time, you can create advanced segments for each version number, and apply them both to the Crashes and Exceptions report.

See crashes by app version over time using advanced segments and the crash and exception report  In this example, a bug fix pushed around January 24 caused significant reduction in crashes across both versions, but crashes persist for v1.1.7 that might warrant some additional investigation.
3.  Find out what crashes are costing you.
Do you know what app crashes are costing you? Find out what crashes cost in terms of both user engagement and dollars by using a custom segment.

By using a particular crash or exception as a custom segment, you can see how user engagement and in-app revenue may be impacted by a particular issue or set of issues.
Use custom segments to segment user experience and outcome data by crashes. This gives you some idea of what they might be costing you in users and in dollars.
To set this up, you’ll want to create two custom segments: one that contains all the sessions in which the exception(s) occurred, and another baseline segment that contains all other sessions unaffected by the exception(s).

Once created, try applying both segments to your Goals or Ecommerce Overview reports to get a sense of how the exception(s) might affect user outcomes. Or, apply the segments to your Engagement overview report to see how the exception(s) might impact user engagement metrics.

4.  Gain visibility into crashes at the device model level.
Do you know which device models are the most and least stable for your app? Developers can’t always test their app on all devices before launch. However, by using Custom Reports in Google Mobile App Analytics, you can monitor crashes and exception per device to find out where additional testing and bug fixes may be needed.

To see crashes and exceptions by device, create a custom report and use a dimension like Mobile Device Marketing Name, with Crashes and Exceptions as the metric.

See crashes by device by using a custom report. To get even more detail, add the Exception Description dimension as a secondary dimension. In this example, the high level view shows the Galaxy Note and Desire HD as device that might need additional testing before the next launch.
5.  (Advanced) What about caught exceptions? You should measure those too.
While caught exceptions won’t crash your app, they still may be valuable events to measure, especially when they might have an impact on user experience and outcomes.

For instance, if your app normally catches a server timeout exception when requesting user data, it might be useful to measure that caught exception to know how often a user’s request is not being fulfilled.

A caught exception is measured in Google Analytics using a custom description. In this example, a number of failed connections may indicate a backend problem and could be causing a poor user experience. Reducing the number of these caught exceptions could be a goal for the dev team in the next release.

As always, please keep in mind that you should never send personally identifiable data (PII) to Google Analytics. Raw exception descriptions may contain PII and we don’t recommend sending them to Google Analytics for that reason. 

Also note that there’s a 100 character limit on exception descriptions, so if you send your own descriptions, be sure to keep them concise.

Lastly, here are some links to resources you might find helpful when implementing crash and exception measurement in your app:

And for brand new users:

Posted by Andrew Wales, Google Analytics Developer Relations


[G] Enhanced campaigns: Making it easier for customers to reach you with upgraded call extensions and sitelinks

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Inside AdWords: Enhanced campaigns: Making it easier for customers to reach you with upgraded call extensions and sitelinks

People are constantly connected and searching from all kinds of devices. Advertisers are looking for ways to quickly provide customers with the right information, in formats that make sense for where they are, the time of day, and the device they’re using. As part of AdWords enhanced campaigns, we upgraded call extensions and sitelinks with several new features to help you reach customers in more relevant ways across these varying contexts.

In this post and a Learn with Google Webinar this Thursday, February 28th, at 10am PST (sign-up here), we’ll provide a closer look at these new features, and give you practical examples for how to use them to drive better business results.

Improved extensions for the multi-device world
In our world of constant connectivity, people expect to have the information they’re looking for right at their fingertips. Sitelinks provide your customers with links to any part of your website, directly within the ad. On average, ads with sitelinks have a 30% higher click-through rate compared to standalone ads. With enhanced campaigns, you can now customize sitelinks at the ad group level, in addition to the campaign level. You can also customize sitelinks specifically for mobile devices:

People are often looking for ways to connect with you directly on the phone. In fact, there are more than 27 million calls per month through our ads call products on mobile and desktop. In addition to calling you directly from a smartphone, people may wish to find your business’ phone number when searching from devices without call functionality like computers and tablets. With enhanced campaigns, you can now show your business phone number or a Google forwarding number in call extensions on computers and tablets. Additionally, Google forwarding numbers are now free on all devices. Learn more

Precise extension scheduling for more granular control
Many advertisers customize their ad content to align with their business hours or special events like sales and promotions. With enhanced campaigns, you can now schedule the specific dates, days of the week, or times of day for your call extensions and sitelinks, at either the ad group or campaign levels. So instead of having to manually turn ads on or off to run specific extensions, you can now schedule them ahead of time.

Example: A multi-national sporting goods business has a website and physical stores in 5 major cities. With enhanced campaigns, Mary, their online marketing manager, can align her AdWords schedule with the operations of the business. Mary runs call extensions between 10am and 6pm when her stores are staffed. After 6pm, she schedules ads to point to the website instead of the call extension. For weekend sales and promotions, she can schedule sitelinks pointing customers directly to her “Sale” page. Scheduling enables sitelinks to appear exactly at the times that Mary sets (e.g., 12 midnight on Saturday) instead of having to manually turn them on at that time.

Advanced reporting for sitelinks and new conversion types
Many advertisers drive leads or conduct business over the phone, so they value phone calls as much as, or more than, clicks to their website. To give you greater visibility into the full value of your ad spend, AdWords reports now count phone calls as conversions, making it easier to compare calls alongside more traditional conversion types like online sales. For example, you can now specify that calls longer than 60 seconds count as conversions.

We’ve also made reporting for individual sitelinks more precise and actionable. You can now manage and track sitelinks individually to ensure that each one drives the right ROI. You can also take advantage of per-link approvals so if one link is disapproved, your other links can still run.

Continuing the above example: Mary uses the new detailed per-link reports to manage individual sitelinks. Below, you can see that the “Swimming” sitelink only got 16 clicks, while the other sitelinks for the sporting goods store got 100+ clicks each. With this precise data, Mary made the informed decision to replace the “Swimming” sitelink with another one, like “Soccer.”

Mary further segments her data with the "This Extension vs. Other” feature. Here, you can see that two clicks occurred specifically on the “Running” sitelink while 137 clicks occurred on the other parts of the sitelink, like the headline.

We really value your feedback to help us make AdWords even better. In fact, many of the new features that we described today are a result of your ideas and suggestions. Please continue to share your thoughts using this form so we can continue to improve the product.

Posted by Scott Silver, Senior Director, Ads Engineering

[G] Egan Construction connects Minnesota with Chromebooks

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Egan Construction connects Minnesota with Chromebooks

Posted by Jim Nonn, CIO at Egan Company

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Jim Nonn, CIO at Egan Company, a Brooklyn Park, MN-based commercial contractor. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Egan Construction is an approximately 800-person construction company in Minnesota currently working on the Central Corridor Light Rail, the biggest construction project in the history of the North Star State. The Light Rail will stretch 11 miles through five major areas of interest, and is expected to be done in 2014. As CIO of Egan, I want to provide my organization with technology that helps connect the job site with the main office, the tools and parts warehouses and our executives.

A year ago, we were looking for a solution that would avoid having a fleet of expensive, quickly outdated and slow Microsoft Windows laptops that constantly break or need replacing. I’ve heard stories from other construction firms that Monday mornings were like the movie Groundhog Day, with the IT team tackling the same four-foot high stack of malware-infected laptops over and over while work ground to a halt. I didn’t want to experience that.

After surveying the market, we decided to move to Chromebooks for our 140-person foreman staff. They’re lightweight, turn on and off in an instant, and provide easy access to business apps that we use every day.

Chromebooks also integrate nicely with Google Apps, which we use to run our business in the field. The workers love the Chromebooks because they aren’t afraid to use them on the job. If one does get damaged, we can swap it out for another one in a matter of minutes, with zero time wasted or data lost. Also, we’ve saved so much in moving forward with Chromebooks instead of Windows laptops - about $200 per machine.

Rolling out Chromebooks to our staff was extremely easy. We have two people and an intern in our IT support department, and I wanted the intern to manage the deployment process. I figured he’d only get so far, then my IT guys would have to jump in, but he did it all on his own. If I would have rolled out the same number of Windows laptops, I would have had to hire additional staff just to manage that. And with Chromebooks, we haven’t been plagued with ongoing support requests.

The scale of the light rail project really brings to light how valuable the Chromebooks have become to our organization. At Egan, we take pride in the fact that we’re building something that so many Minnesotans will use. The light rail will bring people together that didn’t have an easy way to connect previously. I like to think Chromebooks have done the same for Egan.

[G] Review your contact information to ensure delivery of important AdSense messages

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Inside AdSense: Review your contact information to ensure delivery of important AdSense messages

Throughout your journey as a publisher, we occasionally get in touch to provide information related to your participation in AdSense, such as account and product updates. Our goal is to ensure that this type of information, in addition to other types of messages you can enable like optimization tips, reaches you in a timely fashion so that you can review it and take action. However, sometimes we’re not able to reach you because we have incorrect contact information.

We’ve all been there - we receive too many pieces of information, so we provide a different, less frequently checked email address for an online site we’re signing up for. Or we move, change email addresses, and forget to update contact details for different services. It’s a common occurrence, so we wanted to take this opportunity to ask you to review your contact information in your AdSense account to ensure we have your preferred information. We use the contact details entered in your account to reach you, so it’s important that they’re accurate. As always, Google will only collect and use the information that you provide in accordance with its Privacy Policy

To update your contact information, log in to your account and visit the Account settings page under the Home tab. Under Personal settings, click “edit” and enter the desired data in the contact name, contact email and contact phone fields, then press “Save”. If you have multiple users for your account, we encourage each user to check their contact information.

Review contact information now

Thanks for helping us continue our partnership with you.

Posted by Jamie Firkus - Inside AdSense Team


[G] Congress encourages the next generation of computer scientists

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Google Public Policy Blog: Congress encourages the next generation of computer scientists

Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs

Any student in the country could be the creator of the next big website or the next cool app. That’s why we’re excited that today the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 77, a near-unanimous resolution highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — especially computer science — and establishing an annual, nationwide academic competition in these fields.

STEM disciplines are a source of jobs and innovation, and they are necessary for our workforce to match the fast pace of technological change. For example, an estimated 1.4 million new jobs will require computing skills by 2020. Yet the US still lags in this area; only a small percentage of middle schoolers show proficiency in math and science, and only one third of bachelor’s degrees earned in this country are in a STEM field. For this reason, energizing students at an early age is crucial.

The competition established by the House resolution could engage students in various ways. To start, it calls for a challenge to create new apps for a range of platforms. Developing an app is a great way for students to gain hands-on experience in computer science, the next wave of opportunity in today’s economy. As technology advances, the competition may evolve to focus on different fields.

We believe it’s crucial to help kids and teens around the country move from being great consumers of technology to being great creators of technology — and competitions like this one can help drive that evolution. By reaching out to budding technologists in their districts, Members of Congress can foster a deeper enthusiasm for computer science. We hope this opportunity for students to showcase their creativity will spark interest in the STEM fields for years to come.