News and notes from Google Down Under
Talking About Privacy at Parliament
Friday, October 29, 2010
We headed to Canberra today to talk to the Senate’s
Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
about online privacy. The Committee is looking at protections for the privacy of Australians online, and we thought it would be useful for us to appear and explain Google’s approach to protecting our users’ privacy. We lodged a submission in August (which you can read
) and presented to the Committee in a hearing this morning.
According to Nielsen, Australians are spending a lot of time online — 86% of Australians have access to the Internet and Internet users aged 16-29 years spent an average of 22 hours online per week. They’re taking advantage of the Internet’s ability to offer greater convenience (such as online banking and bill payment), easier communication with friends and family (such as on email, chat, and photo and video sharing sites), and better access to an entire world of information that would previously have been difficult or impossible to get your hands on. Five or ten years from now there will undoubtedly be even more “must have” online services that we can’t predict today.
At Google, we take privacy very seriously. We are very aware of the trust that users have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect their privacy and data. Without our users’ trust, we have nothing; after all, on the web, competition is only a click away. We have a set of
that help guide the decisions we make at every level of our company and at every stage of product design which put users in control through transparency and choice.
Here are some examples of what this means in practice. Our
educates users about how to make more informed choices about which products they use, how to use them, and what information they provide to us — and we work hard to keep this site free of tech jargon and legal-speak! We built the
to give you a clear picture of the information you store with Google and quick links to control your personal settings for more than 20 products. We’ve made it easier to move data in and out of Google products with our
Data Liberation Front
, and you can control the ads you see using our
Ads Preferences Manager
Another key element of good privacy practice is security — meaning, how we keep our systems and your data safe. We invest heavily in security, and it’s at the core of our design and development process. We use automated tools and manual review to help keep our products and services secure, and if a compromise is suspected, we take swift action to protect our users’ information.
Google is committed to empowering Australians to be in control online. With the right information and the right tools, users can make the most of the Internet and the opportunities it brings to every doorstep.
Ishtar Vij, Public Policy and Government Affairs Manager, Google Australia & New Zealand
Business Photos from Google are now on Place pages
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Six months ago, we
the pilot of a project to take photos of business interiors. Through this program, business owners located in the U.S., Australia and Japan could invite our photographers into their establishments to take high-quality images of their businesses. Excitement from interested business owners grew quickly, and we’ve since taken photos of businesses in about 30 cities.
Starting today, the images we’ve taken as part of the pilot can be viewed on the
of participating businesses. Users and potential customers who look online for local businesses can now see more high-quality photos that give them a sense of what a place is really like. The photos may include the storefront, decor, layout, merchandise, food, signage about hours and accepted payment types, and other items that help people learn more about a business and decide if they want to go there. For example, if you’re looking for the perfect restaurant to make a good impression on a first date, the high-quality interior photos might help you decide if the ambiance and atmosphere of a particular place are right for the occasion you’re planning.
Here are a few examples of these high-resolution photos:
Susan Avery Flowers and Event Styling
, a wedding services, event planning and florist shop in Sydney, Australia
法善寺横丁 正弁丹吾亭, or Shoben Tango Tei
, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Osaka, Japan
Pane e Vino
, an award-winning Italian Restaurant in San Francisco, CA
Business owners who worked directly with our photographers across these three regions will see the photos from Google on their Place page within the coming weeks. Thanks to all of you who welcomed us into your businesses. We’re continuing to take photos at more business locations, and urge others to
let us know if you’d like us to visit you
In the meantime, you can also upload your own photos and videos of your business by
signing in to Google Places
. By building out your Place page with visuals and other relevant business information - such as hours of operation, offers and more - you’ll help potential customers learn more about you and feel like they know what to expect when they actually walk through your doors.
Posted by Gadi Royz, Product Manager
YouTube Play Winners Announced
Friday, October 22, 2010
searched for the world’s most creative art videos and after 23,000 submissions and
, we’re excited to announce that the 25 winners have been announced overnight in New York at a special celebratory event at the Guggenheim Museum. Two Australian entries were among the winning 25: Keith Loutit's tilt-shift/time-lapse piece entitled 'Bathtub IV' and Nick Bertke's 'Gardyn'. Australian singer
, who features as the singer in 'Bathtub IV', also performed live at the event in New York.
The winning entries will have their videos projected onto the Guggenheim Museum, and the final videos will also be on display from 22nd-24th October in the Museum. You can see the entries at the
Posted by Ernesto Soriano, YouTube Team
A note on Google search results
Friday, October 22, 2010
From time to time we receive requests from people who would like to see a given website removed from our search results. This goes to the very core of how we view web search, so we wanted to shed more light on how we approach requests of this nature.
First, there is a subtle but very important distinction between Google’s search results and the web itself. When you type a query into Google, you are not searching the web directly, but rather our copy of the web, also called an ‘index’. To help people find whatever they may be looking for, we work very hard to ensure that our index is a comprehensive and accurate reflection of the world’s online information.
The comprehensiveness of our search index is also fundamental to our belief that the Internet provides an incredible opportunity to express ideas, share information, and communicate openly. While not every view expressed online is palatable to all of us, we believe that the Internet should remain an open platform for a diversity of opinions, whether we agree with them or not.
That said, we will remove pages from our results if we believe the page (or its site) violates our
. This most often happens when a website uses unfair methods to try to appear higher in the search rankings, such as cloaking text so it can be seen by search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines and manipulating search engine results. When this happens, a webmaster can fix the site to meet our guidelines and then ask for re-inclusion. We will also remove a site from our search results at the
request of that site’s webmaster
In addition, we will remove individual search results if we believe we are required to do so by applicable law--one well-known example is Germany, where Nazi content is illegal. We are transparent about this process and provide notice in our search results when we have removed URLs in response to a legal request. In their place is a link to
, which catalogues these removals as well as the legal ground for the removal, e.g. a court decision or a decision by a governmental authority. Anyone can request this type of removal by contacting us. Note that we receive many of these requests -- some part of valid legal process, some not -- so we do take time to evaluate each request.
In all of these cases, it’s important to remember that removing a result from Google Search is not the same as deleting that site. Google is not, and should not become, an arbiter of what does or does not appear on the web, which is why we strive to protect the integrity of our search results. If search results were altered regularly according to individual preferences, whether they are those of Google or of the general public, there would be a risk that different voices on the web, from all walks of life, could be silenced.
Posted by Annie Baxter, Google corporate communications
More transparency and control over location
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the
Official Google Blog
We’ve always focused on offering people the most relevant results. Location is one important factor we’ve used for many years to customise the information that you find. For example, if you’re searching for great restaurants, you probably want to find ones near you, so we use location information to show you places nearby.
Today we’re moving your location setting to the left-hand panel of the results page to make it easier for you to see and control your preferences. With this new display you’re still getting the same locally relevant results as before, but now it’s much easier for you to see your location setting and make changes to it.
Your location setting is now always visible on the left side of the search results page.
We do our best to automatically detect the most useful location, but we don’t always get it right—so in some cases you’ll want to change the setting. At other times, you may want to change your location to explore information relevant to another area. For example, let’s say you’re at work in Mountain View and you’re making plans to see a movie in San Francisco (a common occurrence here at Google). You can change your location to “San Francisco” and search for [showtimes] to find movie listings in San Francisco or search for [restaurants] to find places to eat before the show. Similarly, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, you can change the location to “Honolulu” and start exploring the [weather], [hotels] and of course the [beaches]. The location you set can be as specific as a particular post code or as general as an entire country, but more specific settings generally lead to better search results.
Click “Change location” to specify your location preference.
You used to be able to see and control your location settings, but it was a little clunky. To see your settings, you could click “View customisations” on the results page and to modify them you could click “Change location” next to a variety of search results, such as maps and movie listings. As time has gone by, more and more locally relevant information has come online, whether it’s local business listings or a blog from your hometown. Meanwhile, Google has become much better at presenting this locally relevant content—so it felt like the right time to make this setting easier to find.
The new interface is rolling out now and will be available in more than 40 languages soon. We’re not changing anything about how we use location information to improve search, so it doesn’t change our existing
. To learn more about our new interface and how we use location in search, check out our
Posted by Mack Lu, Associate Product Manager
YouTube Symphony Orchestra comes to Sydney Opera House!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
We’ve just announced the return of
YouTube Symphony Orchestra
, an online audition for a collaborative orchestra on a global scale. What began with 3,000 YouTube submissions from concert calls, living rooms and dorms in 70 countries around the world culminated in YouTube bringing an orchestra of 96 musicians from over 30 countries to New York’s Carnegie Hall to perform a sell-out concert under the direction of San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.
This time, we’re very excited to bring
YouTube Symphony Orchestra
down under to perform on March 20, 2011, in Australia’s very own Sydney Opera House. The performance will be live streamed on the world’s largest stage: YouTube. This ‘second act’ promises an even more innovative celebration than the first, bringing together music, technology, and global collaboration in an iconic venue of world class ideas and performances -- Sydney Opera House.
This morning we launched YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011, direct from the Utzon room at Sydney Opera House, with key partners Tourism Australia, Sydney Symphony, and other musical guests in attendance. The event featured performances from YouTube Australia sensation
, an inspired improvisational performance from William Barton, and a live hookup to last year’s host venue, Carnegie Hall in New York.
We’re calling on musicians to audition for the opportunity to take part in YouTube Symphony Orchestra and perform at Sydney Opera House. If you play trumpet, banjo or didgeridoo, from Sydney to Tassie, Brisbane or Broome, we want to hear from you!
To be considered, upload audition videos of designated pieces to demonstrate your musical and technical abilities. This year, we’re also looking for solo improvisers to extend the audition process beyond classical instruments and performance. The online audition period opens October 13, 2010, and extends through to November 28, 2010.
Selected musicians will be flown to Sydney to participate in a week-long classical music summit with Michael Tilson Thomas and leading musical masters, culminating in a final performance on March 20, 2011, which will be live-streamed on YouTube.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 offers a further focus on musical education, and will offer online master classes with orchestras around the world, and classes for Australian musicians during the summit.
Last year, Australian violist and YouTube Symphony Orchestra winner Lauren Brigden travelled to Carnegie Hall. Hear her experience:
Get ready to play your part. We look forward to welcoming you down under!
Posted by Ernesto Soriano, YouTube Australia, recently watched Aston Music,
Laroux - Bulletproof
, Classical Cover.
Performance at Scale on the Google Display Network
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
As you’ve heard us
, one of our key goals is to help our advertisers and agencies drive better performance with their display advertising campaigns.
As users increasingly spend time across a growing number of sites, however, display advertising is becoming more challenging for many marketers. Last year alone there were 47 million new web sites created.
can help by automatically showing your ad to users on web pages related to your products on the millions of sites in the
Google Display Network
(GDN). But building and managing your campaigns can still be time-consuming. So how do you reach your target audience easily and efficiently while meeting your business goals?
Today, we’re launching two tools to help -- the
Display Campaign Optimiser
Contextual Targeting Tool
, two powerful features that help you maximise your performance on the GDN, while saving you valuable time and resources.
Display Campaign Optimiser.
This new tool automatically manages targeting and bidding for your Display Network campaigns with the goal of increasing your conversions while meeting your advertising objectives. You simply provide us with your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA), creatives and budget, and the Display Campaign Optimizer goes to work, showing your ads in all the right places, automatically. It monitors your campaign performance and, in real time, adjusts your campaign accordingly. Your campaigns stay optimised, as it “learns” and does more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. For example, Seventh Generation, a company that sells eco-friendly household cleaning, baby care and personal care products, was looking to connect with more “green” consumers across the web and get them to download coupons from their site for use in-store. After implementing the Display Campaign Optimiser, the tool delivered 60% of the coupon downloads they got on their site, with a CPA 20% below their target. Further, analysis of our beta testers showed that on average, campaign using Display Campaign Optimiser were likely responsible for almost one-third of the accounts’ total conversion volume with CPAs within 6% of their peer group CPA.
The Display Campaign Optimiser is now available globally for larger campaigns running on the Google Display Network.
Contextual Targeting Tool.
While the Display Campaign Optimiser is an automated solution that does all the heavy lifting on your behalf, the Contextual Targeting Tool helps you more efficiently build your own display campaigns. This tool is ideal for advertisers who prefer transparency and control over their campaigns’ targeting and bidding. The Contextual Targeting Tool builds tightly themed keyword lists for your display campaigns, which are used to contextually target your ads. Tightly themed keywords lists are the basis of effective contextual targeting. With this tool, you can build dozens, even hundreds, of ad groups in minutes, quickly scaling your campaign performance while ensuring accurate targeting and control over your campaign.
For example, if you sell yoga gear, normally, you might take the time to build out separate ad groups around each of your product lines, such as yoga mats, yoga clothing, yoga gear, etc. Inputting each product category into the Contextual Targeting Tool will generate even more tightly themed keyword lists. For example, inputting ‘yoga mats’ into the tool generates more specific ad groups, such as designer yoga mats, thick yoga mats, yoga mats with designs, etc. These are all separate ad groups that can help you generate additional traffic and sales, which you wouldn’t necessarily think of creating when manually building out your campaigns.
This week, we’re beginning a phased launch of the Contextual Targeting Tool, and it will become available to more advertisers over the coming weeks and months.
Whether you’re looking for an easier way of building out your display campaigns or looking for a more robust, automated solution that continually optimises bids and targeting, we think these tools will help you easily and efficiently achieve performance at scale with your display campaigns.
Posted by Karen Stocks, Head of Display for Google Australia
Google Instant coming to Australia
Thursday, October 7, 2010
A few weeks ago we introduced a new way of searching that makes search more interactive and helps you find information more quickly and easily. We called it Google Instant, and today we are excited to be rolling out Instant in Australia.
Google Instant combines three core features -- dynamic results, Autocomplete predictions, and ‘scroll-to-search’ functionality -- to deliver smart, predictive results as you type. Here is a video that explains Google Instant in greater depth:
In the month since our initial release, we extended Instant to Google Books, Videos, Blogs and Updates, and launched keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate through search results. We have also learned more about how people are using Instant, and although it is still early days, we wanted to share some of those findings.
People are learning to use Instant
. In just two weeks, we saw an increase in the fraction of searches performed without hitting enter or clicking search. People are used to searching on Google by hitting enter or clicking “search,” but we’ve been happy to see that people are quickly adjusting to the new experience.
Search is getting more interactive
. We’ve seen about a 7% increase in on-the-fly editing of search queries. Instant isn’t just about time savings, it’s also a new, more fluid way to search. We’ve seen people reformulating their queries more. As you type, you see search results, and often those results can inspire you to type better search terms.
People are making the extra effort to use Instant.
In just one week, we saw an increase in the relative number of search sessions starting on the Google homepage, likely because they want to use Instant. Google Instant currently only works on the Google homepage and results page, not in other places such as browser search boxes, the Google Toolbar, and the Chrome Omnibox. As people have learned about Google Instant, many seem to be searching more on the homepage in order to use the feature.
We are thrilled to be bringing Google Instant to Australia, and we look forward to hearing what you think.
Posted by Jonathan Effrat, Product Manager
ABC launches full-length episodes on YouTube
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Love watching the ABC? We’re really happy to announce that the ABC has added long-form shows to YouTube. Now you can watch separate channels for
, which showcase full episodes of great Australian-made shows.
The huge list of shows includes,
Review With Myles Barlow
Surfing The Menu
Enough Rope With Andrew Denton
John Safran's Race Relations
We Can Be Heroes
The Gruen Transfer
A Shared Table
and so many more.
We’re excited to see more and more full-length content coming online to YouTube: it was only recently that we streamed the entire
Indian Premier League
to satisfy the strong demand from our users.
Stay tuned for more new episodes from the ABC updated each week.
Posted by Ryan Hall, YouTube Team
More Countries, More sellers, and More buyers
Friday, October 1, 2010
(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the
Official Android developer blog
Since we’ve launched Android and Android Market, we have seen the population of Android users and devices expand into many countries. This widespread adoption has brought with it growing interest in Android Market’s support for the buying and selling of paid applications in these additional countries.
We have been hard at work on this and it is my pleasure to announce that effective today, developers from 20 more countries can now sell paid apps on Android Market. Additionally, over the next 2 weeks, users in 18 additional countries will be able to purchase paid apps from Android Market.
Support for paid application sales is now expanded to developers in 29 countries, with today’s additions of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.
In addition, Android Market users from 32 countries will be able to buy apps, with the addition of Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and Taiwan. No action is necessary if you have targeted your paid apps to be available to “All Locations” and would like to launch in these additional countries. If you have not selected “All Locations” and would like to target these additional countries, or if you have selected “All Locations” and do not want to launch your apps in these additional buyer countries, please visit the A
ndroid Market publisher site
to make the necessary adjustments.
We remain committed to continuing to improve the buyer and seller experiences on Android Market. Among other initiatives, we look forward to bringing the Android Market paid apps ecosystem to even more countries in the coming months. Please stay tuned.
Posted by Eric Chu, Android Developer Ecosystem
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