News and notes from Google Down Under
Beta now in Australia: Try the new AdWords interface
Monday, March 30, 2009
Many Australian businesses are trying, or increasing their use of, online advertising - and search marketing in particular. We're always looking for ways to make it easier and quicker to implement and manage campaigns using AdWords.
Back in November, we asked a small group of US advertisers to
start testing a new web interface
for AdWords while it was still early in development. The new interface makes AdWords campaign management faster, clearer, and more intuitive. This means making it easier to find the most important keywords across your account, speeding up account navigation and editing to save you time, and making reports both more accessible and quicker to act on.
We've continued to work on the new interface for the last few months, making changes based on feedback from beta testers. Now we're excited to offer this beta to advertisers in additional countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
Here are a few of the features we're testing in the new interface:
* Performance graphs: Spot trends over time with custom graphs on every campaign management page.
* Insight across ad groups: Focus on the high-impact areas of your account with new roll-up tabs on every page. You can see and edit keywords, placements or ads from all ad groups on a single tab.
* In-line editing: Want to change a keyword or bid? Click on it and make changes in-line instead of loading a separate page.
* Easier content network management: Improve content network performance on a new Networks tab. Look at statistics for the placements where your ads have appeared, then take action by setting unique bids or excluding placements directly from the report.
However, keep in mind that the new interface doesn't change how ads run. Bidding, ranking, Quality Score, and the rest of ad serving are no different in the new interface.
The new interface is still a work in progress, and not all features available in the previous web interface are currently supported. Beta testers can switch between old and new interfaces during the beta, so they still have access to the full range of AdWords tools and reports, if needed.
To learn more, see videos of the new interface in action, and sign up for the beta test, visit our new
AdWords interface website
For anyone who wants a simple explanation of how our AdWords auction works, check out this video from our chief economist, Hal Varian. It's a great summary of how we rank ads.
Posted by Jeremy Wood, Product Specialist
Transit on Google Maps in Geraldton, WA
Monday, March 30, 2009
Google Australia is partnering with public transit agencies around Australia to integrate their data with Google Maps. We first launched Transit on Google Maps almost exactly one year ago in partnership with
, to provide public transit directions for the Perth metropolitan area. Then, last December, we partnered with Adelaide Metro to bring the service to Adelaide. Today we're pleased to announce that Google Transit has launched in its third Australian city, and is now available for the residents of
Geraldton, Western Australia
If you live in Geraldton, we hope you'll find this service useful for day-to-day commuting, and reducing your reliance on your vehicle. If you're planning a visit to this hidden gem on Western Australia's Batavia Coast, you may want to use Transit on Google Maps to find your way to Geraldton's beautiful
St Francis Xavier Cathedral
, or the stunning
HMAS Sydney II Memorial
, or to see 90 tons of lobster at the Fisherman's Collective
View Larger Map
We'd like to thank our friends at
who have worked hard to make this service available to benefit their customers in Western Australia.
Posted Bryan Landsiedel, Technical Account Manager
Introducing Earth Connect for Earth Hour 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
As you may or may not know,
was started in Australia by the
World Wildlife Federation
(WWF) just a few years ago. The global event is driven from Sydney, and this year Google Australia has joined with the Earth Hour team to help drive awareness and participation in this initiative.
2009 is the largest Earth Hour yet. With 84 countries and over 2800 locales registering their participation, it is an unprecedented global event to promote the
issues surrounding climate change
Members of our Australian team have coordinated an effort across Google to help Earth Hour create a social network called
Earth Connect uses
Google Friend Connect
, and is built using
as a foundation for the site, which allows anyone with an
to sign in and become a member of the network. A
-based blog is used to drive Earth Connect's "Talking Points", using the BuzzBoost feature of
to provide text, pictures and videos. The "Talking Points" in turn encourage Earth Connect members to post their thoughts in the Friend Connect-based Comments Gadget, which is where the real magic happens...
The comments collected by Earth Connect will be counted by WWF towards the goal of collecting a billion words in the lead-up to the next
United Nations Climate Change Summit
, COP15, to be held in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. The Earth Hour team will present this global collective statement of support as a call to action on climate change issues at COP15.
In this way, the Earth Hour movement will be sustained well beyond the March 28 event, providing a platform for the people of the world to share and contribute their thoughts on climate change.
The Earth Hour website,
, is being hosted by
Google App Engine
, and the site is using
to show all of the participating cities and towns.
is also embedded on the website to allow anyone in the world to access all of the information in their local language.
Andy Ridley, Global Executive Director of Earth Hour says: "One of the most inspiring aspects of working on Earth Hour is the way it has evolved - it has truly been built through the efforts and imagination of people who just want to see it work.
"We hope that on Saturday March 28 at 8:30pm local time, millions of people around the world will join us for Earth Hour. Beyond that, we look forward to building the world's largest environmentally-focused social networking platform."
Please join Earth Connect,
subscribe to email updates
, check out the
Official Google Blog
for more ways in which Google is helping to support a greener future, and watch this space as more is yet to come. Here's to a greener, cleaner future!
Posted by Justin Baird, Google Australia
Two new improvements to Google result pages
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
(Ed's note: 'More and better search refinements' is in part based on technology developed by Australian PhD student Ori Allon - read more about his contribution
Today we're rolling out two new improvements to Google search. The first offers an expanded list of useful related searches and the second is the addition of longer search result descriptions -- both of which help guide users more effectively to the information they need.
More and better search refinements
Starting today, we're deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search, and one of its first applications lets us offer you even more useful related searches (the terms found at the bottom, and sometimes at the top, of the search results page).
For example, if you search for [
principles of physics
], our algorithms understand that "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big bang" and "quantum mechanic" are related terms that could help you find what you need. Here's an example:
Let's look at a couple of examples in other languages. In Russian, for the query [
гадание на картах
](fortune-telling with cards), the algorithms find the related terms "таро" (tarot), "ленорман" (lenormand) and "тибетское гадание мо" (tibetan divination mo). In Italian, if you search for [
surf alle canarie
](surf at the Canary Islands), we now offer suggestions based on the three most famous Canary Islands: "lanzarote," "gran canaria," and "fuerteventura":
We are now able to target more queries, more languages, and make our suggestions more relevant to what you actually need to know. Additionally, we're now offering refinements for longer queries — something that's usually a challenging task. You'll be able to see our new related searches starting today in 37 languages all around the world.
And speaking of long queries, that leads us to our next improvement...
When you do a search on Google, each result we give you starts with a dark blue title and is followed by a few lines of text (what we call a "snippet"), which together give you an idea of what each page is about. To give more context, the snippet shows how the words of your query appear on the page by highlighting them in
When you enter a longer query, with more than three words, regular-length snippets may not give you enough information and context. In these situations, we now increase the number of lines in the snippet to provide more information and show more of the words you typed in the context of the page. Below are a couple of examples.
Suppose you were looking for information about Earth's rotation around the sun, and specifically wanted to know about its tilt and distance from the sun. So you type all of that into Google: [earth's rotation axis tilt and distance from sun]. A normal-length snippet wouldn't be able to show you the context for all of those words, but with longer snippets you can be sure that the first result covers all those topics. In addition, the extra line of snippets for the third result shows the word "sun" in context, suggesting that the page doesn't talk about Earth's distance from the sun:
Similarly, if you're looking for a restaurant review that covers all the parts of the meal, longer snippets can help:
But don't just take our word for it — try it out yourself with your favorite long, detailed query.
These are just two recent examples of improvements we've made. We are constantly looking for ways to get you to the web page you want as quickly as possible. Even if you don't notice all of our changes, rest assured we're hard at work making sure you have the highest quality search experience possible.
Ori Allon, Technical Lead, Search Quality team, and Ken Wilder, Snippets Team Engineer
Introducing students to open source software development
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Google Summer of Code™
, our flagship program to introduce college and university students to open source software development, is now in full swing. Over the past four years, we've paired nearly 2,500 student "graduates" with more than 2,500 mentors from industry to academia, with some spectacular results: millions of lines of source code produced and over $15M USD (almost $22M AUD) in funding provided to open source development. We're particularly excited by the social ties our students participants form through the course of the program - we've connected people in more than 98 countries, and hope to bring people from even more places into the Google Summer of Code community this year.
We're accepting student applications now through April 3rd. For more details, including how to apply, please see the
Google Open Source Blog
Posted by Leslie Hawthorn, Program Manager Open Source Team
Expanding Street View in Australia
Monday, March 23, 2009
Street View on Google Maps is a great way of visiting parts of Australia you've never seen before. Since it
launched in Australia
in August last year, travellers have been using it to check out destinations before they arrive; students have been researching geographical features and learning about cities across Australia and the world; and it become a useful tool for house-hunting.
Last week we further expanded our Street View imagery in Australia so you can visit even more cities, towns and rural areas. In particular, we've included new imagery in parts of Sydney, around Port Lincoln in South Australia, in rural New South Wales, and in many parts of Queensland including wilderness areas around the Staaten River national park, and around Taylor's Beach, Tweed Heads, and Cairns.
View Larger Map
If your neighbourhood missed out when
Street View launched
, head online to check whether it appears in the latest update.
In addition to adding imagery to Australia, last week we also launched Street View on
Google Maps in the UK
. The UK is a favourite travel destination for Aussies, whether they're going to visit family or heading off on a working holiday, and now you can check out famous landmarks like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before you set off on your trip.
View Larger Map
Posted by Andrew Foster, Product Manager
Learning in the cloud
Friday, March 6, 2009
While the internet has changed the way we connect with friends and do business, it's also made huge changes in the world of education. Teachers in Australia and New Zealand are embracing cloud computing, allowing them to achieve a wide range of learning outcomes and, more importantly, make learning fun.
Laurie Wales, a
Google Certified Teacher
from the Catholic Schools Office in Newcastle Australia, is well-versed in the value that online tools can deliver in the classroom. In a presentation at the recent
Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association Conference
, Laurie ran a workshop titled "Connect - Construct - Collaborate". The workshop demonstrated how
can be used to create an
, allowing students to record, archive and share their work with peers, parents, class, school and the world – and showcased how developing projects using Google applications has the potential to bring teachers and students together by making them part of a "global community".
Across the ditch in New Zealand, cloud computing in the classroom is also really hotting up.
in Christchurch, New Zealand uses
extensively to help staff collaborate on team meeting agendas, track meeting minutes and manage their budgets. The school also uses Google Docs in the classroom to help children as young as seven get organised and receive immediate peer feedback on class presentations through online
. Blogs are also used extensively across the school, allowing students to discuss key events and helping parents break through the typical "What did you do at school today?" silence. Fendalton School's new web site,
, is driven through Google Docs and pulls in RSS feeds from class blogs to share learning as it happens in classrooms. This has the potential to reduce traditional barriers between school and the home. In the video below, Fendalton School's Rob Clarke describes some of the uses of Google tools by Fendalton teachers and students. There are even plans to use Google's
tools on this school web site.
Pt England School
in Auckland, New Zealand, has taken this one step further using a range of
to make learning fun. The school's principal, Russell Burt, describes their approach as giving students the space to collaborate with each other and with people worldwide to create and remix content, and to share their work in a manner that was previously only available to the highly technically skilled. To see what the kids at Pt England have been up to, check out the video below.
If you're interested in learning more about using
Google Apps in the classroom
, you can find a number of online resources, including class plans,
. Or, visit the
Google for Educators Discussion Group
to engage with other educators and share information about Google in education.
Posted by Andrew Mitchell, Google Apps Team
Clean Up Australia Day 2009 and MyMaps
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Guest post by Angela Mayer, Marketing and Communications for Clean Up Australia
Clean Up Australia Day, the flagship event of
Clean Up Australia
, takes place on the first Sunday in March each year. On Sunday March 1 we saw about 630,000 volunteers take to their streets, waterways, beaches, parks and bushland to pick up rubbish - collecting nearly 8,300 tonnes of it.
This year we used some of the latest technology to showcase the great work our volunteers were doing to all the other members of Clean Up the World. As the Clean Up Australia bus, with our chairman Ian Kiernan AO and other VIPs on board, visited Clean Up locations around Sydney, we used a MyMap on Google Maps to pinpoint the locations and show photos of the great work done by the volunteers there.
View Larger Map
We did this all via the
on the new
Google-powered HTC Dream phone
- allowing us to take photos of our volunteers and upload them to our
as the Clean Up took place.
As a member of Clean Up the World, we were also able to showcase our activities on their
It was a great example of how technology can be used to share the achievements of volunteers with others around the country and around the world. We hope that more members of Clean Up the World discover this feature and use it to showcase their green activities on the
Clean Up the World activities website
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