News and notes from Google Down Under
The 2009 Google Online Marketing Challenge is on
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Online advertising is an increasingly important part of Australian businesses' marketing mix.
In 2008, we launched an
Online Marketing Challenge
to give students the chance to experiment with the medium and empower small local businesses to harness the power of the web to attract more customers.
The response to last year’s Challenge was so overwhelming that we decided to make this an annual competition. Giving students direct experience of online marketing whilst they are studying is a great way for Universities to provide students with direct practical skills they can use on graduation. Whether they find a job in marketing, accounting or retail, or set up their own business, graduates can all benefit from understanding online marketing.
The 2009 Google Online Marketing Challenge is now open. It's a global online marketing competition that is open to any higher education institution, anywhere in the world. To find out more or to register your team, visit the
2009 Challenge website
1650 different teams across 47 different countries took part in 2008, pitting their wits against one another to further develop and maximise returns for real world local businesses' online marketing strategies.
Using free $200 vouchers to spend on Google AdWords, each student proposes and implements a campaign for their chosen local business, makes tweaks and then final recommendations at the conclusion of a three week competition period.
Full details on 2008’s winning teams and finalists can be seen
Last year, a team from the University of Western Australia was the global winner. We're hoping Australia can go back-to-back this year!
Recently, the 2008 Asia Pacific regional winners – from the Australian Graduate School of Management, and two regional finalists – The National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences (Taiwan) and The National Taiwan University – visited Google's headquarters in Sydney for the Regional Finalists' retreat. For many students, it was their first visit to Australia and a chance to compare approaches, discuss strategies with online marketing optimizers at Google and gain some insights prior to the 2009 Challenge.
For us at Google, it was immensely gratifying to meet these students and hear them speak of the enthusiasm and benefit they received from competing. In fact, one of our winners had to leave early for a job interview, and it was fantastic to hear that his Challenge experience is helping him in his quest to find a job!
We hope lots of Australian students from across different academic disciplines will get involved in 2009. Good luck!
Posted by Will Blott, University Programs Manager
Aussie Scholars visit Grace Hopper Conference
Friday, October 24, 2008
1500 women technologists in one room: this is the 2008
Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing
! As one of a number of
Google Australia Anita Borg scholars
, I was sent to this year’s GHC as part of the scholarship. Held in Keystone, Colorado, nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains at an elevation of about 9300 feet (just less than 3000m), GHC participants are urged to drink plenty of water to ward off altitude sickness; but, feeling woozy and out of breath from simply walking up stairs doesn't deter me from jumping headfirst into the networking, technical, and career development sessions!
GHC was unlike any other technical conference that I have been to before. With only a handful of men present (quite the opposite of a typical engineering conference), participants were a range of ages and from different technical backgrounds - be they students, academics or industry professionals (or all of the above!). The sessions covered a wide variety of professional development and technical topics, from
computing to projects helping the developing world. Also, social activities and networking were as integral to the conference schedule as the technical sessions.
Universities and industry, invited to hold stalls at the conference, lined the foyer with information about graduate programs, internships and job opportunities; not to the mention the plethora of freebies including T-shirts, pens, water bottles, notebooks, bags, lip gloss, Rubik's cubes and rubber duckies (holding laptops, no less!). Armed with only a backpack, I ended up having to return a few of the freebies as they just wouldn't fit!
GHC gave me the chance to share experiences and ideas with other Google scholars (from the US, Latin America, and Canada), undergraduate and graduate students, academics and women from the computer technology industry - including Googlers! It was a really motivating experience to be in a room with so many like-minded women who share a passion for technology; from just one of the keynotes I walked away inspired and amazed by how much one woman had achieved with the
My thanks to Google for the
which made my first trip to the US possible, and without which I might not have heard about GHC. I've taken home with me the importance of having mentors and a strong support network, ideas and opportunities for after study (a second PhD!), inspiration for innovative technology that can help change the world, and the knowledge that there is always more than one path to achieve what you really want.
Guest post by Eva Cheng, 2007 Google Australia Anita Borg Scholar, University of Wollongong
My Maps Australia Awards 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Local knowledge is a great thing. It can be the difference between an OK visit and a great visit to a particular destination. Today, we launch the
My Maps Australia Awards for 2008
, and are asking you to share your special knowledge of a corner (or corners) of Australia with the rest of us.
What is a My Map? It is a personalised version of a Google Map you can create, complete with customised pins, text, pictures, video and more. Many Australians are already using My Maps for invitations, or to share information with friends or the world at large. We have a couple of celebrity guest My Maps created for this initiative to help illustrate some of the things you can do. These include:
Favourite surf beaches in Australia
: Mick Fanning, 2007 ASP World Title holder
Famous gardens in Sydney
: Jamie Durie, Horticulturalist, landscape designer, TV Host
Best coffee in Melbourne
: David Makin, Australian Barista of the Year
Famous grave sites
: Helen Harris OAM, Professional historian
Ten winners will receive "Best My Maps Awards" and one of these will win the grand prize of a 13" 2.1 GHz Macbook and eternal Australian mapping fame. They'll be judged on three criteria of creativity, originality and ease of use.
Entries close November 28, so take part and enter your submission now.
Posted by Julian Sonego, Marketing Team
Happy birthday, Sydney Opera House!
Monday, October 20, 2008
You may have noticed the doodle of the Sydney Opera House on our homepage today. Joern Utzon's famous creation is instantly recognised by millions worldwide as an Australian cultural icon and one of our
most famous landmarks
View Larger Map
It's 35 years today since Queen Elizabeth II opened the iconic building, so we thought we'd send our birthday wishes!
Posted by Michael Fox, AdWords Account Manager
From across the ditch: YouTube and the NZ election
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Last night, more than one million New Zealanders watched the groundbreaking ONE News YouTube Election Debate when it aired on New Zealand's TV1 last night.
New Zealanders got their first chance to see current leaders battle it out head-to-head in their first debate leading up to the November 8 poll.
The ONE News YouTube debate enabled New Zealanders to put their questions to the two party leaders, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader John Key, in the leadup to the 2008 New Zealand election. What made this debate particularly special was that New Zealand citizens were called upon to ask the questions via YouTube and they did so enthusiastically, submitting over 100 questions. The debate marked the first time a head of a national government and the challenger for the top job have appeared in an official live televised debate answering questions posted as video questions through YouTube.
The full-length debate is now accessible worldwide through the YouTube
. Expat Kiwis can keep up with the New Zealand election happenings with our
13 New Zealanders had their questions put to the candidates during last night's debate, including:
16-year-old Carmen McDougal from Pukekohe, who asked what will the parties do to help low and middle-income families to get through the recession.
Ex-pat Kiwi Adrian Parker, who asked from London what the parties would do to reduce tax rates to bring them in line with Australia and the UK.
Amberley resident Mike Jowsey, who questioned if climate change was for real and if so, who was causing it.
Praveen from Auckland, who asked what plans there are to ensure shopkeepers are able to protect themselves from violent crime.
Last night was just one example of how YouTube and online video are changing politics around the world. In the 2007 Australian election, the main Australian political parties all established YouTube channels to engage with voters. Since then, Victorian Premier John Brumby has set up an official
and many more of our leaders and politicians are realising the importance of online video and direct engagement.
Posted by Julian Sonego
A Google Code Jam Story - Aussie Style
Thursday, October 9, 2008
There is nothing like starting off the week with a coding competition - especially when the prize one lucky Aussie will be receiving is a trip to Mountain View, California, to compete for a share of $80,000.
Google Code Jam
was created as a
by a team of Google engineers. The contest aims to bring together the best and the brightest programmers from across the globe to solve complex algorithmic challenges, similar to brainteasers, in a limited amount of time. Coding is the process of converting information into coded values (typically numeric) for the purpose of data storage, management and analysis. The competitors create codes to solve each of the problems.
2008 marks the first year we've held semifinals in this competition, bringing top coders from across the region together to meet and compete. The contestants were selected after a series of online rounds, with each round consisting of a mini-code jam competition, and were given the chance to face off in Sydney as well as in Bangalore, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. 100 finalists will then go to the Googleplex in Mountain View to compete for glory and a cut of the $80,000 in prize money on offer.
The Sydney regional Google Code Jam competition was held last Monday morning at our Sydney offices. The 21 contestants, representing eight countries played a few games of pool to fend off some pre-competition jitters and then got down to competition.
As a spectator in a coder's world, you could almost see the gears turning in their heads. As the competition progressed, the scoreboard, with competitors' nicknames, gave real-time updates. In Sydney we saw 'Microsoft' get on the
first, then 'snguyen', then 'Patience'. After an hour 'TripleM' made an appearance and continued to fight his way up the scoreboard. After two hours, time was called.
A few minutes later,
were posted. In the end, TripleM - real name, Stephen Merriman - had coded his way to trip to the Googleplex, to compete in the final round. Well done and do us proud!
Posted by Lysandra Sapp, People Programs
More eye candy for iGoogle
Thursday, October 2, 2008
In case you're looking for some more personality to add to your
page, we've just unveiled a fresh collection of iGoogle artist themes in Australia --
an ongoing project
we launched in April for which we invited world-class artists to design dynamic themes for your iGoogle homepage.
The new collection features designs from 28 leading artists from the worlds of fashion and music, such as top fashion designers
and many more -- and from musicians like
. So depending on what you're interested in, there's lots of great art to choose from to suit your personality, taste or mood.
We hope this
new collection of themes
gives you more choices so your iGoogle page reflects your personal style. Changing it is easy and requires only a few clicks. If you have a hard time selecting just one,
add the sampler theme
, which displays a different artist every day.
Stay tuned as we continue to collaborate with more artists from Australia and from around the world.
Posted by Julian Sonego, Consumer Marketing Manager
Diving into the Great Barrier Reef
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Australia is home to many geographical treasures, and the Great Barrier Reef has to be one of my favourites. There's a magnitude, a depth, and a diversity of marine life that just leaves me in awe of this ecosystem that stretches more than 2,500 kilometres along the Queensland coast -- from Bundaberg up to Cape York.
You can now
use Google Maps to find and explore
the largest reef system in the world. Through close collaboration with the
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
, we now provide map data and updated satellite imagery of the islands, reefs, cays, and rocks in Google Maps.
You can plan holiday travels, scope out your dives, engage your students, and visualise the reef with greater interactivity. Of course you can also overlay your own information on the reef system and share with family, friends, or the world.
It's also my hope that in line with the goals of the
International Year of the Reef 2008
, the addition of the Great Barrier Reef to Google Maps will help strengthen awareness, improve understanding, and generate action to help conserve our international treasure.
If you're lucky enough to have visited the reef, enjoy reliving your memories. If you've not yet been,
Raul Vera, Head of Geo Products, Google Australia
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