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In support of interoperabilityIn support of interoperabilitySVP of Global Affairs

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:00

Open software interfaces have been an integral part of the innovation economy. They enable the interoperability that has always let software developers build on each other’s work. And the interoperability of open software interfaces is what lets different technologies like apps work together on a variety of devices and platforms: That’s why you can take a photo on an Apple phone, save it onto Google’s cloud servers, and edit it on a Surface tablet. Our legal case with Oracle turns on our belief that interoperability has been good for innovation, good for developers, and good for consumers.


The Supreme Court has heard from 250 leading computer scientists, businesses, and software developers who share this conviction. The Court also recently asked for additional information about how courts should respect a jury’s decision that a given use (like the reuse of software interfaces) constitutes allowable fair use. 


Today, we filed a supplemental brief explaining how the jury in our case heard from over a dozen witnesses, reviewed hundreds of documents, and then unanimously agreed with our position. America’s Constitution enshrines the right to a jury trial. The Supreme Court has recognized the important role of a jury in deciding nuanced, fact-specific questions like the ones in this case.


A decision in Oracle’s favor would limit consumers’ freedom to use technologies on a range of devices. It would upend the way developers have always used software interfaces, locking them into existing platforms and giving copyright owners new power to control the building blocks of new technologies. And it would erode the traditional role of the jury in evaluating all the facts relevant to a decision.  


We look forward to making this case to the Court on October 7.


Interoperability has been good for innovation, good for developers, and good for consumers.
Categories: Technology

Cadets learn to codeCadets learn to code

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:00

Each morning at 9:30 a.m, Makayla Davis of Aberdeen, Mississippi logs on to start her day. Instead of simply watching TV, hanging out or getting roped into yard work, Makayla is learning cryptography, network fundamentals and penetration testing techniques. 

She is one of 24 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from 12 states participating in the inaugural Air Force JROTC Cyber Academy, an eight-week virtual course that will earn each cadet three college credits and prepare them for valuable industry certifications. She started the program when one of her teachers told her about the opportunity. “I was excited to learn new things that I could bring back to my school,” she says.

The course is part of the JROTC-CS Demonstration Project, a collaboration between the Air Force JROTC and CSforALL, aimed at growing the talent pipeline in critical technology careers. The project is funded through an advisory consortium of nonprofits, federal agencies and corporate sponsors, including Google. Google supports CSforALL, in addition to other organizations such as 4-H, Kapor Center and the Computer Science Teachers’ Association to ensure that all students, regardless of background, have equitable access to computer science learning opportunities.

The Air Force JROTC serves more than 125,000 cadets at nearly 900 high schools across the U.S. and overseas, but only 36 percent of those schools offer an AP computer science course. JROTC-CS aims to develop a way to increase computer science and cybersecurity programs at all JROTC high schools, and offer opportunities for cadets to develop skills, explore technical career paths and earn industry certifications, scholarships and more.

“This program embodies the AFJROTC mission: developing young citizens,” says Colonel Stephen T. Sanders, Director, HQ AFJROTC. “Whether our cadets have military or civilian careers in mind, we are preparing them for the future.”

The AFJROTC Cyber Academy is offered through Mississippi State University and was intended to be an on-campus experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program went virtual and the cadets, instructors and mentors are logging in from all over the country. The team includes instructors and mentors from Mississippi State, the National Cybersecurity Training and Education Center (NCyTE) at Whatcom Community College in Washington State and Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. 


Like everyone working or learning from home, the pivot to virtual created some challenges for the JROTC cadets. CSforALL raised funds to make sure all students had devices to participate virtually. In week six, the cadets have broken into project teams to research security challenges and share recommendations back to the group. Makayla’s team is exploring the use of deterrents, which are ways to prevent people from entering a site. She is excited at the prospect of developing a cybersecurity plan for her school, where she’ll be a “cybersecurity ambassador” when she returns.

Makayla and her fellow cadets have plans that go way beyond high school, though. “I’m thinking about how to combine cybersecurity with psychology for my future career,” she says.

As part of our work to ensure all students have access to CS education, we’re supporting CS4ALL’s JROTC-CS program and their cadets as they pivot to virtual classes.
Categories: Technology

The Last Mile grows with G Suite Enterprise for NonprofitsThe Last Mile grows with G Suite Enterprise for Nonprofits

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:00

In the United States, as much as 83 percent of formerly incarcerated people return to prison. The Last Mile (TLM) is a nonprofit on a mission to reduce the re-incarceration cycle by creating new pathways to jobs for prison populations. Since 2010, it has provided classrooms to 600 incarcerated men, women and youth across the country, offering a highly competitive coding skills curriculum and becoming one of the most requested prison education programs in the country. Technology has played a huge role in TLM’s growth and is helping to keep the program going despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which is hitting prison populations especially hard. We interviewed Mike Bowie, director of Engineering, to learn more about TLM and how G Suite helped them boost efficiency and streamline operations.

What is the story of The Last Mile, and what’s the problem you are trying to solve?

We believe that high-quality education for incarcerated populations is key to providing new opportunities and breaking the re-incarceration cycle. When Chris Redlitz, our cofounder, entered the San Quentin State Prison for the first time in 2010 to speak to a group of men about business and entrepreneurship, he was impressed by the men’s eagerness to learn, and started to nurture the idea of creating a technology accelerator inside the prison. 

He started The Last Mile alongside his wife and business partner, Beverly Parenti. Graduates of TLM coding programs in San Quentin now take part in the first-ever web development shop in a US prison. After leaving prison, many TLM graduates enter paid apprenticeships with leading companies, turning their skills into careers and smoothing the way for reentry. 

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The Last Mile upgraded from G Suite for Nonprofits to G Suite Enterprise. Why?

As the information services at TLM have evolved, technology needs have also changed. It became clear that we could vastly simplify our service catalog, improve our security posture and streamline our IT operations with this one low-friction transition, so we decided to upgrade to G Suite Enterprise. Given the valuable range of functionality G Suite Enterprise already affords us, having Google now offer such reasonable discounts for nonprofits makes it hard to pass up. 

Did one or more of the G Suite Enterprise features help you solve a challenge that you think most nonprofits might face?

For any organization, people are the most critical component, and in the nonprofit environment, that’s especially true. As part of G Suite Enterprise, we now use Secure LDAP Service as a single identity and access management platform. Staff use the same G Suite credentials to log into multiple apps and, in many cases, without re-logging in. 

Having standardized on Chromebooks as our platform of choice, we can ensure the key G Suite apps for our organization are readily available as soon as the user logs in, and everything is kept up-to-date without the need for significant technical support. A centralized access management system has reduced financial costs, simplified IT management, streamlined staff onboarding and simplified the experiences for everyone who interacted with the complicated and burdensome systems we'd used in the past. Less time spent by IT engineers creating or updating accounts means more time working on things that have a valuable impact on our cause. 

How is TLM using G Suite to increase collaboration and security?

G Suite is the foundation platform for all of our team. Having that familiar, feature-rich set of tools as a starting point for communication and collaboration is key to our productivity. To ensure documentation processes are well detailed, TLM is using enterprise features in Google Meet, including the ability to record meetings and securely store them in Drive. 

The IT staff also gets access to security dashboards, reporting and eDiscovery tools. For example, email log helps determine the coverage of phishing campaigns, and eDiscovery gives visibility to phishing engagement. The system alerts IT of any suspicious logins, and gives them the ability to prioritize, investigate and escalate them in the console. 


What’s next with The Last Mile?

COVID-19 has posed new challenges. In-person activities have been paused to protect our students and slow the spread of the virus in prison facilities, which are particularly affected by the outbreak. But TLM's momentum isn't stopping. We have 23 classrooms across six states (California, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan and North Dakota), with plans for rapid expansion. Our goal is to be in 50 classrooms across the country within the next four years. The tech-centric nature of our program has enabled us to continue providing value during the pandemic with remote instructions and recorded content. The efficiency of having a single unified means of managing all of the systems we have further supports our growth.

TLM creates new pathways to jobs for prison populations in the U.S. Learn more about their work and how they use G Suite to boost efficiency.
Categories: Technology

Make sure your video meetings are accessible for everyoneMake sure your video meetings are accessible for everyone

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:00

In 2017, Professor Robert Kelly was conducting a video interview with the BBC from his home office when he was famously, and adorably, interrupted.

Today, many of us working remotely due to COVID-19 can relate. Virtual meetings have become even more vital to how we connect, communicate and get work done, which is one of the reasons we made Google Meet available for free to everyone back in May. And while video conferencing is now part of our daily lives, it comes with its challenges, too. Aside from the occasional adorable interruptions, there’s also more potential for accidental exclusion. And when that happens, we risk missing out on valuable perspectives, creativity and successful outcomes

Fortunately, there are ways to make remote meetings better and more inclusive for all. 

Plan ahead

The more planning you do, the better remote meetings can be. Share your agenda, process and materials ahead of time so everyone has a chance to gather their thoughts and show up ready to contribute meaningfully. 

Everyone processes information differently; for instance, for some neurodivergent people, vague information can be stressful and difficult to respond to. And for introverted people, the same can lead to less participation.  

Check that the platforms your team uses for real-time chat, presentations, feedback or whiteboarding work with different assistive technologies that people with disabilities may use. You can search online, on the company’s help center, or contact them directly. (Here’s some accessibility info for GoogleMeet and Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.

If you’re tied to using a specific platform, like a brainstorming tool without captions, tell everyone about its limitations ahead of time and work together to find a workaround. 

You can also send participants an anonymous feedback survey with Google Forms asking how to improve the experience. 

Set ground rules, norms and time limits

From the start, establish a clear process for the meeting. This can include when there should be discussion, when someone has the floor for an extended period, how to take turns and what signals the moderator will use to (politely!) cut in to keep things moving along.

It’s also essential to normalize parenting and caregiving. Make sure your colleagues know caregiving responsibilities can be attended to and prioritized, and discuss that it’s OK (and sometimes even fun!) for kids, pets and other family members to interrupt calls. And remember, anyone can be a caretaker regardless of age, gender or living situation, so include everyone in this discussion. 

 If meetings are longer than an hour (and were intended to be), offer breaks. Listening fatigue due to cognitive load can occur for deaf and hard-of-hearing participants, but breaks are likely welcome to anyone spending the majority of their day looking at a screen.

Take advantage of remote meeting technology

Before you join meetings, be close enough to the mic and camera so participants can easily see faces to clearly read lips, tone and body language. Using real-time closed captions (CC) is also a good idea (here’s how to turn on English CC when presenting in Google Meet and Google Slides), as is adding a phone dial-in option, which G Suite customers can easily do in Google Meet

And if you’re sharing any Docs or Slides, make sure the content is easily visible for everyone. (For more details about making sure meetings and the content you share during them are accessible, check out this blog post about creating inclusivity while we work from home.) 

Leave time for empathy

There’s a lot going on in the world, from a global pandemic to the quest for racial equity. It’s important to recognize that people may be in difficult situations and feeling a multitude of emotions. 

If you are leading a video call, plan to take some time at the beginning to acknowledge how people may be feeling, offer your support and understanding. Even though meetings have a specific agenda, it’s also important to  create a safe, no-pressure space for people to share—if they want to—and to connect to one another. 

Hopefully these tips will help make your video meetings more welcoming for everyone you work and meet with. 

Google Meet is a great tool for remote working. Here are a few ways you can use different tools to make sure video meetings are accessible for everyone.
Categories: Technology

News Brief: July updates from the Google News InitiativeNews Brief: July updates from the Google News Initiative

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:00

As newsrooms face steep advertising declines during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re focusing on programs to help grow revenue for news organizations. As the nature of working continues to change, publishers are investing in digital growth and sharing their findings with the news industry through virtual events. Read on for July updates from the Google News Initiative.  

The GNI Subscriptions Lab expands globally

The GNI Subscriptions Lab helps news organizations grow direct reader revenue. The program is expanding to Asia Pacific for the first time, and will be running in the region through a partnership with WAN-IFRA and FTI Consulting. Applications are open until August 14th, 2020. 

We also shared initial takeaways from the discovery phase of the GNI Subscriptions Lab in Europe with INMA and their members. These include three early industry findings about how publishers can align their reader revenue strategies around core business goals.

Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, Director General of Aptika KemKominfo RI, presenting for Google for Media in Indonesia

Indonesian publishers share program lessons with local news community

In Indonesia, we started a six-month informational series called Google for Media, in which publishers share lessons from their participation in GNI programs with the broader local news community. During the first event, Innovation in the Newsroom, presenters discussed leading through innovation, building and monetizing an online presence and applying design thinking to newsrooms.

Apply for the new round of the Google Podcasts creator program

New resources for podcast creators

We launched a training course to help podcast creators learn how to use our new analytics tool, Google Podcasts Manager. The tool helps podcasters get to know their audience better and reach new listeners across Google. We also announced a new round of applications for this year’s Google Podcasts creator program. Created in partnership with PRX, the creator program seeks to elevate underrepresented voices in podcasting by providing free training, equipment and funding. This year, the program will train producers with an existing show who want to take their podcast to the next level. BIPOC podcasters and creators from traditionally marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is August 9 — learn more and apply today.

Virtual News Impact Summits for European publishers

Organized in partnership with the European Journalism Centre, this year’s News Impact Summits will explore the intersection between journalism, technology and innovation. There will be three Summits throughout October and November of this year, focused on audience, audio and voice and data journalism. For this first time in six years, the summits will move online and will be live-streamed to make sure you can join the discussion wherever you are. Registrations are now open for all three events.

That’s all for July. Keep in touch on Twitter and sign up for more updates through the Google News Initiative newsletter.


The latest product, partnership and program updates from the Google News Initiative.
Categories: Technology

Run audio ads easily with new tools in Display & Video 360Run audio ads easily with new tools in Display & Video 360

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 08:00

In 2020, U.S. adults are projected to listen to digital audio more than radio for the first time ever. As the audio landscape continues to shift more heavily to digital, marketers have more opportunities to reach their audiences and get their attention using a long-proven format. Google continues to help marketers embrace this shift with new and improved audio product offerings.

We’re introducing new audio capabilities in Display & Video 360 to simplify the ad creation process, make it easier to find the right audio inventory for your brand, and improve measurement.

Easily create compelling audio ads at scale

Audio ads are a unique way to reach customers when they aren't looking at their devices, but are still engaged with content and receptive to brand messages. Whether listening to a podcast on a drive, streaming music while out for a walk, or using voice with a smart speaker, there are multiple times a day to reach users through audio. But creating professional grade audio ads can be difficult and costly. Our new audio ad creation tool, Audio Mixer, is a one-stop-shop for advertisers and agencies looking to easily create audio ads at scale.

With Audio Mixer, marketers are able to upload multiple tracks including music, sound effects and voice, while also having full edit control to create a high quality audio ad. Audio Mixer also allows brands and agencies to add the companion display creative that will be shown with the audio tracks. The preview gives marketers a better sense of their customers’ full audio ad experience. Marketers can then share the complete audio ad and companion asset for brand approvals through a link that does not require Display & Video 360 access.

One of our Audio Mixer beta users, Joystick Interactive, has found the product to be both simple to use and impactful. Andrew Henry, Head of Client Services at Joystick, says that “the Display & Video 360 Audio Mixer platform is an ideal solution to create custom audio ads quickly. The user-friendly interface provides the tools to create professional, high quality ads no matter the level of technical expertise.”

 A demo of Audio Mixer’s track setup and editing ability

Audio Mixer is now available globally in Display & Video 360. For information on how to get started, please visit the help center.

Discover audio inventory in Marketplace

To help advertisers connect with audio publishers and view available inventory for their campaigns, audio will soon have its own section in Marketplace. Marketplace will showcase inventory from top audio partners including AdsWizz, iHeart, Pandora, SoundCloud (global), Spotify, Triton Digital and TuneIn, among others. It will also provide marketers with more audio-specific information, such as content type to distinguish between music, radio and podcasts.

Audio inventory in Marketplace is now fully available. You can find additional details here.

A view of Audio in Marketplace

In addition to highlighting audio in Marketplace, we're working to increase access to new audio inventory. For example, advertisers can now access digital audio inventory through Programmatic Guaranteed deals and other programmatic transaction types on Google Ad Manager. As a part of this, Ad Manager is also introducing new audio monetization features that help publishers sell their audio inventory programmatically to marketers.

Building stronger brand measurement in audio

Google’s Brand Liftoffering is an ad measurement solution that evaluates the impact of ad campaigns on brand perception. As one of the most requested product features for audio, we look forward to expanding Brand Lift measurement to audio inventory later this year.

With Brand Lift, advertisers will have the ability to understand if their audio campaigns are impacting brand favorability metrics, such as awareness, ad recall, consideration and purchase intent. The offering will also provide programmatic buyers with actionable insights for in-flight optimizations as early as seven days into the campaign, with reporting slices across areas like creative and line item. Additionally, the tool will provide marketers with unified measurement across audio, video and YouTube campaigns.

As the ability to reach people through audio continues to grow, we are working on building additional features to help advertisers take full advantage of the growing audience opportunity. This includes solutions for dynamic audio creation, contextual targeting, podcasts and more. We are excited for what the future of audio will bring.

The latest group of audio ads product updates spanning creative, inventory and measurement offerings
Categories: Technology

Listen up: New features to grow your digital audio businessListen up: New features to grow your digital audio business

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 08:00

As people listen to more streaming music, digital radio, podcasts, and even text-to-speech news articles, publishers have an opportunity to grow their revenue from audio ads by revitalizing the century-old format with new technologies. Historically, audio advertising hasn’t kept pace with the online advertising world—often requiring publishers to sell audio ads directly or retrofit video ads into a digital audio ads format—resulting in poor listening experiences and limited publisher revenue. 

To help publishers monetize their digital audio content, Google Ad Manager is expanding support for audio ads with new features like Dynamic Ad Insertion for audio, programmatic monetization, and new audio forecasting capabilities. With these new audio features, publishers gain opportunities to monetize their digital audio content, advertisers are able to reach more relevant audio audiences, and listeners can experience better quality ads. 


Monetize seamlessly across formats 

Google Ad Manager’s new audio features, currently in beta, allow publishers to develop a true cross-format monetization strategy across their audio, video, and display content. Partners can now manage all of their inventory in one place, making it easy to deliver the best ad format depending on how users engage with their content. 

For example, if a person is interacting with a music streaming app on their phone or computer, Ad Manager can deliver a video ad. Or if the streaming service is running in the background, an audio-only ad can be served. Publishers can also use Dynamic Ad Insertion for their audio inventory to seamlessly insert ads into live audio streams across a variety of devices, no matter how someone is listening. These features help audio publishers deliver the right ad format to the right device at the right time, allowing them to provide a high-quality ad experience for users while maximizing revenue.

TuneIn, an audio streaming service that delivers live news, music, sports, and podcasts, uses Google Ad Manager’s new audio features to manage all of their inventory across formats. “We use Google Ad Manager to monetize all of our inventory programmatically across audio, display, and video. This has helped us to streamline our business by increasing operational efficiency, monetize more effectively, and provide a better user experience with more relevant ads,” says TuneIn’s Director of Monetization, Kellan Barker. 


Grow advertiser demand with programmatic audio ads 

Ad Manager gives partners flexibility to sell audio inventory any way they want—whether that’s through Programmatic Guaranteed, private auction, open auction, or direct sales deals. With new programmatic monetization capabilities, publishers are able to unlock advertiser demand for their audio inventory from Authorized Buyers, like Display & Video 360 and in the future Google Ads, so that they can increase fill rates and revenue. With new audio campaign settings, publishers can easily create audio-specific line items in Ad Manager and advertisers can create new audio campaign-types or use the audio Marketplace in Display & Video 360 to discover and secure ad inventory on high-quality audio content. 

Spotify, one of the world’s most popular audio streaming companies, has taken a Programmatic Guaranteed-first approach to selling its streaming audio inventory. “Selling our audio inventory through Programmatic Guaranteed has allowed us to bring parity between reservations and programmatic,” says Greta Lawn, Head of Global Automation Sales at Spotify. “It’s helped us make audio inventory available to more advertisers and grow revenue.” 


Forecast audio inventory

We’re also launching new audio forecasting capabilities that break out audio from other formats, giving publishers insight into audio inventory availability and how audio ads are performing. Forecasting uses historical audio inventory data and takes into account seasonality to project how many audio impressions a publisher may have available, which can help them better plan and monetize their audio content. 

These new audio features are just the beginning. For example, we're currently running a podcast ads pilot with AdSense partners, and will continue to explore podcast monetization solutions, so that publishers can grow revenue across this emerging format. We'll develop more audio monetization solutions for our partners as new audio formats arise, whether it’s podcasts, smart speakers, or other connected audio devices. Listen up for future audio updates! 

New features and expanded support for audio ad monetization.
Categories: Technology

How Bridge Michigan turned new readers into paying membersHow Bridge Michigan turned new readers into paying members

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 08:00

In November 2018, during an important state election, Bridge Michigan set an all-time record for monthly readers, with 380,287 people heading to our site for news. We thought it'd be a long time before we saw another month with a similar rise in audience numbers.

But in March 2020, when COVID-19 surfaced in Michigan, we finished the month with 3.75 million readers, nearly 10 times more than that previous record. In fact, March saw more readers than our previous two years combined.

Bridge wasn’t alone in this spike in readership; many news organizations saw surges in traffic with the outbreak of coronavirus in their regions. The challenge was how to keep those new readers coming back and engaged for the long haul.

At Bridge, audience is at the heart of our growth strategy, which is why last year we joined the Google News Initiative Audience Lab, a multi-month program run in partnership with News Revenue Hub to help news organizations grow their loyal audiences and find new ways to increase advertising and consumer revenue. 

We saw in the GNI Audience Lab, informed by the News Consumer Insights tool, that readers with the greatest impact on our sustainability are loyalists, as they generate the majority of our revenue. While our overall traffic started to recede in the months following our record March, our loyalty metrics, like repeat visitors and session length, remain stronger than ever today. The Lab team worked with us to make our site and our newsletter more engaging. As tens of thousands of new loyalists return to us, a large portion are choosing to become paying members. Our revenue from these readers has kept pace with our significant audience spikes. 

Here’s how we did it, using an audience funnel approach: Our editors and reporters looked at the data to see what audiences wanted most, driving readership and generating returning readers. Then, we turned those readers into newsletter subscribers, then donors, and finally, sustained members. 

Helping people find our content

Much of our audience growth is attributed to our improved search engine optimization (SEO). News Revenue Hub helped us run a number of tests at the story, section front and homepage levels to help speed up our site. One outcome was implementing a plug-in that automatically reduces the size of images, which has helped speed up our site’s load time, so readers can get to the content faster.

In March 2020, we had over 1.7 million Google Search referrals, beating our November record by 870 percent. At the time, we ranked well for "Michigan coronavirus," so we included those words in relevant page titles.

SEO helps readers rediscover us, as well. Just because someone reads our publication once doesn't mean the person will remember us or come back. As readers kept searching for variations of coronavirus-related Michigan phrases, they kept finding compelling and timely journalism from Bridge that met their information needs.

Newsletter subscribers

In 2019, we added about 13,000 new newsletter subscribers. Today, about halfway through 2020, we’ve already added almost three times as many new subscribers. The most effective tool for newsletter growth has been embedded email signup forms that appear in different ways on every page of our website. We’ve also found that Facebook lead generation ads are effective at finding readers who like our mission, but haven't heard of us yet.


Examples of Bridge’s newsletter signup forms

But newsletter subscribers alone aren't enough to sustain growth over time. The GNI Audience Lab helped us develop strategies to increase open rates and click rates, such as creating personalized newsletter headers. 

New donations

At Bridge, we pride ourselves on our high-quality, laser-focused Michigan journalism, which many of our readers choose to pay for. We create opportunities throughout our site to highlight how readers can help fund our content, with membership appeals at the top, middle and bottom of every story. Part of having an ever-growing email list is segmenting fundraising messages to the most engaged email subscribers and crafting unique messages for nonmembers, as well as thank-you messages to existing members. 


Examples of Bridge’s call to action for donations

Sustainable donations

In order to add predictability to our budget, we’re working towards developing a consistent reader base that regularly contributes through monthly recurring donations. Our membership options default to monthly payments to set up this cadence. Readers can choose to donate one time at any amount, but we focus our messaging and appeals on sustained giving. 

And our sustainable revenue growth efforts are working. Since March 2019, our monthly recurring revenue from donations has more than quadrupled and continues to grow today.

Catering to the information needs of our readers remains central to our audience growth strategy at Bridge. That’s why we consistently ask our readers to evaluate the value of our service to them. Sustaining their brand loyalty allows us to continue to grow and produce facts-driven journalism for our state.


Bridge Michigan used lessons from the GNI Audience Lab to turn their surge in readers during the pandemic into loyal, paying members.
Categories: Technology

Japan prepares for a changing economyJapan prepares for a changing economy

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 19:30

This summer, Japan was meant to be hosting visitors from around the world at the Olympic Games. Instead, Japan’s people and businesses are confronting the significant and lasting impact of COVID-19. While the postponement of the Games was disappointing, the immediate task is to make the necessary changes to deal with the pandemic and get the Japanese economy growing again in a sustainable way.  


Despite these challenges, there’s an opportunity for Japan not only to rebuild, but to shape a stronger future. We’re committed to helping in every way we can, building on our programs to expand digital skills and advance technology for good. 


Japan’s digital skills divide


One of the most urgent priorities is to close the divide between Japanese businesses that use the internet effectively and those that don’t. According to Ipsos research commissioned by Google, business owners who have adopted digital tools adjusted better to the impact of Japan’s lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions. 


Among businesses that own websites and e-commerce sites, 56 percent said in the survey that digital tools helped them handle the crisis. Kudo Sakai Dojo, a martial arts school in Osaka, began offering lessons online, while flower retailer Hana-Cupid has analyzed Google trends and used YouTube ads to attract new customers. 


Yet the research also found that just 41 percent of small businesses in Japan currently have an online presence—and fewer than five percent of small businesses launched a new website or e-commerce site during the lockdown.


Many business owners or entrepreneurs want to take advantage of the internet, but they often don’t know where to start. Changing that has to be at the heart of Japan’s coronavirus response, and we want to play our part.  


Our commitment to closing the gap


Since 2016, we’ve provided digital skills training to 5.5 million people in Japan, running courses in 45 prefectures and working with more than 100 local partners. We’re now expanding these efforts. 


For the past month, we’ve been running seminars to help small businesses understand and adopt e-commerce, partnering with companies like Salesforce and Shopify, the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and Impulse (part of the Central Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry). We’re adding new permanent courses to our Grow with Google training program, focused on helping businesses get online and promote themselves using platforms like Google My Business


As well as supporting businesses taking their first steps online, we’ve moved events like our Android 11 beta launch seminars to a digital format—so Japanese developers can now get information and support no matter where they live. We also continue to help Japanese founders through Google for Startups. Our most recent accelerator program got underway just as COVID-19 began to hit, forcing classes to move online, but the founders taking part have shown great resilience and flexibility. For example, Selan, a childcare startup which provides bilingual nanny service, has launched a service offering online English lessons.


Looking to the longer term


Beyond its immediate impact, COVID-19 is raising longer-term questions in Japan—including what the future of work could look like.   


Japanese companies have traditionally required their workers to be in the office full-time, but during the coronavirus lockdown, many Japanese employees had to work from home—including almost half of all workers in the Kanto and Kansai areas (home to Tokyo and Osaka). After we made Google Meet available for free in April, we saw a big increase in Japanese companies and workers using it for video conferencing. 


This shift to remote work has become part of a bigger discussion about the need for more flexible and inclusive ways of working in Japan. We want to continue providing tools to help and sharing insights to inform the discussion, like our recent study on the impact of remote working


At the same time, we plan to deepen our partnerships in Japan in other areas of technology that we know will become more important as the country rebuilds. As major Japanese companies and government departments look to modernize how they operate, we’re working hard to help them adopt cloud computing. And as Japan continues to explore fields like artificial intelligence to solve social, environmental and economic problems, we’re helping through our program AI for Japan. It’s our commitment to train AI talent and advance and apply AI research for good.


In 2001, just three years after Google was founded, we opened our first overseas office in Tokyo, humbled to become part of a long tradition of Japanese forward-thinking. Today, despite the cancellation of the Olympics and the impact of COVID-19, we’re even more optimistic about the potential of technology for Japan’s future. We look forward to helping build that future with our partners and communities.

Helping business owners and workers learn digital skills will be critical to Japan’s recovery from COVID-19 (and its longer-term future).
Categories: Technology

A Creative Summer with Arts & Culture ExperimentsA Creative Summer with Arts & Culture Experiments

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 19:01

With so many artifacts and historic treasures from museums and cultural institutions around the world to explore on Google Arts & Culture, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why our Creative Coders like to experiment with playful tools for you to discover the hidden gems curated by our many partner institutions.

Today we’re launching five new experiencesfor culture lovers of all ages to dive into the collections. Reimagine the world’s most famous paintings in your own color palette  with “Color Hunt”. Ready for a jam session with none other than the master of harmonization himself? Check out “Assisted Melody.” which helps you to create music in the style of Bach. If it’s a virtual round-the-world tour you’re after, team up with Hopper, our penguin guide. Want to flex your creative muscles? Doodle around with “Draw to Art” and see your sketches transform into artworks.

Color Hunt

Have you ever studied a painting and wondered how it would look with a different color palette? With Color Hunt, you can use colors in your own environment to recreate existing artworks, giving yourself a new perspective on the work as well as your own surroundings.


Assisted MelodyHave you ever wanted to collaborate with Bach on a composition? Now’s your chance: Assisted Melody allows you to compose your own tune on a virtual sheet of music, and with the click of a button make it sound like Bach. No musical knowledge required—we’ve done that for you, by training our machine learning algorithm on the composer’s choral works.Draw to ArtMany great works of art started as a sketch, but has a sketch ever been used to search for art? If you’re not sure what that even means, try out Draw to Art. It uses machine learning to match your doodles to paintings, drawings and sculptures with similar shapes. Sketch whatever forms come to mind and see what artworks you discover.Hopper, the penguin explorerWant to discover the pyramids of Giza or visit the Eiffel Tower? Let Hopper the penguin be your guide and show you around some of the most famous places in the world. You can even snap a picture of Hopper and immortalize your favorite virtual trips. And if you’re searching for more fun with our cheeky penguin, here’s a clue: Sometimes he likes to get lost in museums. Follow him on our Family Fun page.
An Ocean of BooksAn Ocean of Books is a new way to explore all kinds of literature and learn fun facts. For example, did you know that Sherlock Holmes never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson”? Or that the original manuscript for John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by the author’s dog Toby? Let our map guide you through a landscape of authors and books, perhaps leading you to your next reading adventure.

If these experiments have whetted your appetite for fun and games, see what you think of our recent collection Play with Arts & Culture, which offers puzzles and trivia drawn from the cultural treasures of our partner institutions. Try them on your computer via g.co/artgames, or in the Google Arts & Culture app on your mobile.

A new collection of experiments developed by the Google Arts & Culture Lab to enjoy culture in a creative way
Categories: Technology

TAG Bulletin: Q2 2020TAG Bulletin: Q2 2020

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 14:40

This bulletin includes coordinated influence operation campaigns terminated on our platforms in Q2 of 2020. It was last updated on August 5, 2020.

April

We terminated 16 YouTube channels, 1 advertising account and 1 AdSense account as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Iran. The campaign was linked to the Iranian state-sponsored International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) network, and posted content in Arabic related to the U.S. response to COVID-19 and content about Saudi-American relations. We received leads from FireEye and Graphika that supported us in this investigation.


We terminated 15 YouTube channels and 3 blogs as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Russia. The campaign posted content in English and Russian about the EU, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the U.S., similar to the findings in a recent Graphika report called Secondary Infektion. We received leads from Graphika that supported us in this investigation.


We terminated 7 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Russia. The campaign posted content in Russian, German, and Farsi about Russian and Syrian politics and the U.S. response to COVID-19. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.


We terminated 186 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China. These channels mostly uploaded spammy, non-political content, but a small subset posted political content primarily in Chinese similar to the findings in a recent Graphika report, including content related to the U.S. response to COVID-19. 


We terminated 3 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Iran. The campaign posted content in Bosnian and Arabic that was critical of the U.S. and the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.May

We terminated 1,098 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China. These channels mostly uploaded spammy, non-political content, but a small subset posted political content primarily in Chinese similar to the findings in a recent Graphika report, including content related to the U.S. response to COVID-19. We received leads from Graphika that supported us in this investigation. 


We terminated 47 YouTube channels and 1 AdSense account as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Russia. The campaign posted content in a coordinated manner primarily in Russian about domestic Russian and international policy issues. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.

June

We terminated 1,312 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China. These channels mostly uploaded spammy, non-political content, but a subset posted political content primarily in Chinese similar to the findings in a recent Graphika report, including content related to racial justice protests in the U.S. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter. 


We terminated 17 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Russia. The campaign posted comments in Russian in a coordinated manner under a small set of Russian language videos. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Twitter.


We banned 3 Play Developers and terminated 1 advertising account as part of our actions against a coordinated influence operation. The campaign was posting news content in English and French, targeting audiences in Africa. We found evidence of this campaign being tied to the PR company Ureputation based in Tunisia. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook.

This bulletin includes coordinated influence operation campaigns terminated on our platforms in Q2 of 2020.
Categories: Technology

Find new faves faster on Android TVFind new faves faster on Android TV

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 11:00

Ever plop on the couch, turn on your TV, and get lost in a grid of apps? With so many TV apps, it can take over 11 minutes to find something to watch. Luckily, Android TV can make it easier—and now we're making two updates to help you discover and access new favorites.


Highlights on your home screen

Next time you pick up the remote, pop above your favorite apps row and scroll through suggestions or catch a quick trailer to help you find something you’ll love to watch.


We’re now sharing cinematic teasers for the most popular movies and shows handpicked for you by Google Play’s entertainment experts or sponsored by media partners (starting in the U.S.). You can also add in suggestions from your favorite streaming services by linking them to your Google Account from your phone or laptop.

Discover new favorites with highlights on your home screen.

Subscriptions in a snap

With new releases coming out daily, the latest must-see show might be on an app that you haven’t subscribed to. Filling out sign-up forms with your remote or phone can be time consuming, so we're making it easier to subscribe to apps on Google Play. Simply find your app and click on "Subscribe and install." Google will do the rest and set up your account using your email address with just a couple clicks. We're piloting this with a few apps in the U.S., like the premium Starz app, DC Universe, and EPIX NOW, with more to come soon.

Easily subscribe to new services with just a few clicks on Google Play.

These features can be accessed on thousands of Android TV streaming devices, TVs, projectors and soundbars from your favorite brands. And if you’re wondering what to watch next, don’t forget to check out NBCUniversal’s Peacock and HBO Max, now available on Android TV devices.

Android TV is introducing updates to your TV experience to help you discover new favorites, faster.
Categories: Technology

"News deserts" are getting a boost from local radio"News deserts" are getting a boost from local radio

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 11:00

Rapidly developing news around the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement show how global events deeply impact us at the local level. Every community has been affected by the pandemic. Every city and town has their unique history and reckoning with centuries of systemic racism.  

Even though access to real-time local news has been critical to the health and economic wellbeing of American cities and towns, many regions across the country exist in “news deserts,” where local news outlets dedicated to the specific community have shrunk or shut down altogether. 

In many of the communities where we own and operate radio stations, Townsquare Media is the only creator and supplier of local news. Traditional news outlets, like television stations and newspapers, either never existed there or have gone out of business.  Local news is too important to the fabric of society to be allowed to wither away like this. That's why I and others at Townsquare partnered with Google to explore how AM/FM radio stations can create sustainable standalone local news sites in underserved regions. 

This week, with the support of the Google News Initiative, Townsquare launched a digital news outlet in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area. The Tuscaloosa Thread will provide real-time news coverage to the Druid City and surrounding region and also provide local news reports to Townsquare Media’s other Tuscaloosa radio stations, including Tide 100.9, 95.3 The Bear, 92.9 WTUG, ALT 101.7, Catfish Tuscaloosa, Praise 93.3, Nick 97.5 and 105.1 The Block. Our efforts in Tuscaloosa not only aim to fill the local news vacuum, but also will work to connect with underserved communities across racial, cultural and geographic lines. In the fall, we will launch a second news site based out of Townsquare’s Portsmouth, New Hampshire market.

Community-focused local media and entertainment is at the heart of what we do at Townsquare Media. Across 67 small and medium-sized cities throughout middle America, we operate 326 AM/FM radio stations with 336 companion local websites. Our mission is to not only maintain a thriving traditional radio business over the air, but also connect with people in these communities on-air, online and in person. And given our roots and long established credibility in these regions, we think we’re uniquely equipped to layer standalone digital news outlets on top of existing radio brands, and by doing so, cultivate sustainable local journalism in news deserts.

We’ve seen this marriage of radio and digital-first online news succeed in our market in the Hudson Valley region of New York. In January 2016, we launched the Hudson Valley Post, a digital first news outlet which complements our radio brands in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. Hudson Valley Post proved a vital resource for its community, with its coverage averaging over one million New York-based unique visitors per month in 2020. The outlet has also been financially successful with Hudson Valley Post becoming financially solvent within a year of launch. We believe the marketing reach of radio played a role in Hudson Valley Post’s success, and that the success is replicable in other regions lacking robust news coverage.  

The Google News Initiative's $260,000 grant will allow Townsquare to develop best practices for a scalable model of radio-supported hyperlocal news sites with the launch of outlets in two of our markets. By the end of the project, we will develop a multimedia training module and playbook that other radio companies can use to develop stand-alone local news outlets. Townsquare’s partnership with Google will share lessons from other local efforts supported by the Google News Initiative, such as their work with Oaklandside, their ”Support Local News” campaign, their startups lab, their local media advertising research and their support of the launch of The Matchup.

Reliable, accurate local news shouldn’t be a luxury. Easy access to information about a COVID-19 exposure at a local store, for example, is life-saving and should be available to every citizen. For many Americans in underserved regions across the country, it simply isn’t available. The addition of two news outlets in Tuscaloosa and Portsmouth will knock down some of those barriers and show a path forward for sustainable local journalism.

Townsquare Media and the Google News Initiative combine radio with digital-first websites to bring local news to underserved regions.
Categories: Technology

Create through code with Grasshopper GalleryCreate through code with Grasshopper Gallery

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 10:00

Since Grasshopper launched in 2018, millions of people with no previous coding experience have learned fundamental programming concepts. As students have learned the basics, they have told us they developed confidence, motivation and a desire to apply their lessons in the real world. Grasshopper has been helping increase access to coding education and helping prepare people for career opportunities in technology. The transition from learning to building is an important part of the process of pursuing a technical career.

As part of Grow with Google, our commitment to increase economic opportunity for everyone, today we’re announcing the launch of the Grasshopper Gallery on desktop to give students a place to build and create.

Applying your coding skills

With our beginner-centered learning environment, students are guided through exercises that teach key coding concepts like functions, loops and variables. Students build coding skills and gain confidence in their abilities as they progress through the curriculum.

Now, with the Grasshopper Gallery, students can apply those skills to create visualizations, mini-games, web pages and more in the Gallery. In this free-form environment, students can start to build using their own imagination and creativity, an important transition for any beginner programmer.

Showing off your creations 

Through the Gallery, students use code to build their own creations and share their masterpieces with friends, family, and more. Additionally, students can use the Gallery to build their own coding portfolio to showcase their abilities to potential employers or continuing education programs. 


With the launch of the Grasshopper Gallery, students can use skills learned from the core Grasshopper curriculum to build their own creations using code. As technical skills continue to become more important for employment, we will continue working to help adult beginners learn to code to pursue their career dreams. If you’re ready to start learning to code, Grasshopper is available on Android, iOS and desktop.

Grasshopper is launching a Gallery for students to build and create using code.
Categories: Technology

Tap into intent to generate leadsTap into intent to generate leads

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 08:00

Consumers are more engaged with businesses who can meet their needs from home right now–and they’re more willing to move on to those who can. In June, a Google/Ipsos survey showed that 32 percent of U.S. consumers shopped online with a brand they hadn't before COVID-19.1 This is an opportunity for businesses to connect with new customers, but it’s also a challenge—especially if you’re dealing with shifts in your day-to-day operations, or bandwidth limitations that may slow you down.

Our goal is to help you find and connect with your best leads, faster. Today, we’re sharing ways to help you do that on Search and beyond—with foundational tools that tap into the power of intent, ad formats that help you find qualified leads, and measurement solutions that optimize for lead value.


Focus on the fundamentals

It can be difficult to identify where consumer demand is shifting while making sure you have the right query coverage. In the past three months, we’ve seen Search interest surge for terms like “small business loans,” “video conference” and “online learning.” To help you respond to these changes in consumer behavior, start by refreshing the fundamentals:

  • Tap into intent: Pair broad match keywords with Smart Bidding. By evaluating billions of combinations of signals in real time, these tools help you make the most of changing trends while meeting your goals.

  • Inspire new audiences across Google: Reach up to 3 billion people with Discovery ads as they explore YouTube, Discover and Gmail. This reach, alongside Google's machine learning and unique understanding of intent, makes it easier to generate qualified leads at scale.

  • Follow Google’s creative best practices: Write ads that clearly articulate your value to people researching new brands. Start with messaging that includes your unique user benefit, a strong call to action, and a variety of ad extensions.

  • Uncover new opportunities: Use optimization score and Performance Planner. As the market evolves, you may find that your campaigns, bids and budgets aren’t set up to meet shifting demand.


Find qualified leads

Consumers now prefer to use more varied methods to communicate with a business. In fact, our research from March shows that one in three shoppers would rather buy from a company that provides a wide range of ways to reach them—like web forms and calls.2 To help people connect with your business in more ways, we’ve built lead-focused ad formats that span the Google ecosystem, including call ads and lead form extensions.

With new lead form extensions in Google Ads, you can now show a lead form directly in your ad, giving people an easy way to share information as they search, discover and watch relevant content. This seamless flow can help you find high-quality leads in a more efficient way. Right now, this works with ads on Search, YouTube and Discovery and is available globally. Later this year, we’ll begin rolling these out across Display campaigns.

Using a lead form on YouTube during a video

Jeep used lead form extensions with their Korea branch and saw completed leads increase more than tenfold. According to Jeep, this extension also generated leads at the most efficient cost among all ad platforms.

Call ads are designed for any business that relies on phone calls to drive leads. These ads encourage people to call you for more information, and can appear on any device that makes phone calls. And by including the optional “Visit website” link with your ads, it’s easier for people to learn more about your business before calling you. This can help you get higher-quality calls and more qualified leads.

Call ad featuring an optional “Visit website” link

Optimize for lead value

Ultimately, your goal isn’t just to drive leads—it’s to turn those leads into sales. To optimize for this goal in Google Ads, you need to connect your converted leads to your online campaigns. To help you do that, we’re making it easier to import offline conversions just by using the information people already give you in your lead form. As a result, it will take less time to integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Look for this feature to roll out later this year.

ZenBusiness, a startup that helps other businesses, imported offline conversions and used that data with Smart Bidding to acquire more high-intent customers. As a result, the brand saw a 400 percent increase in customer acquisition year-over-year. This also freed up time for the brand to focus on more strategic initiatives. As Zach Rippstein, VP of Marketing for ZenBusiness, said: “We're now able to devote our time to more impactful areas like ad copy testing, conversion optimization, and growing new channels.”

While lead data can help you optimize campaigns, it can also be used to nurture leads with Customer Match. Whether it’s creating an online connection with an offline customer, or enhancing existing relationships with a custom message, Customer Match makes it easy to continue the conversation with your best customers. Over the last few months, we’ve made Customer Match easier to use, and rolled out several other updates:

  • You can now create similar audiences based on Customer Match lists. This helps you find more potential customers.

  • Match rates have been improved and will now update in real time. This makes it easier for you to troubleshoot your list and connect with more of your customers.

New “match rate” interface for Customer Match

We’re also collaborating with Zapier to develop a Google Ads integration that makes it easier to work with your data. This solution automatically imports and exports data between Google Ads and your CRM system. It currently supports lead form extensions, offline conversion imports and Customer Match. Learn about how Google handles data privacy on our Help Center.


Resources to help you generate quality leadsBusinesses now have to be better at both generating and managing their leads. In addition to today’s announcements, we’re sharing a collection of lead generation resources on our Advertising Solutions Center. There, you’ll hear more about our latest updates and learn from other businesses who made the shift to digital. We’ll continue to roll out new videos about our products on the Advertising Solutions Center in the coming weeks.

1. Google commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 tracker, US  n=1000 online consumers 18+ per market. June 18-21. 

2. Google/Ipsos, Shopping Tracker, Mar 2020, Online survey, Americans 18+ who conducted shopping activities in past two days: n=1000.

Introducing new Google Ads tools and solutions to help businesses generate high-quality leads at scale.
Categories: Technology

Grow your games business with new ads solutionsGrow your games business with new ads solutions

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 21:30

Whether it’s to join the latest multiplayer craze or dive back into an old favorite, user interest in gaming worldwide continues to rise as people spend more time at home. In fact, our data shows that global searches for “best online games” between February and April were up over 100 percent compared to the same time last year. 

Mobile game developers have a huge opportunity to connect with these eager players around the globe. This week at Think Games in China, we’re announcing new ways for developers to engage with the right players and maximize revenue so your team can spend more time creating awesome gaming experiences.  

Reach more of the right players for your game

In today’s crowded gaming landscape, it’s not easy to build a community and retain players over time. App campaigns for engagement were built to help you get players who’ve previously installed your game to return, with custom messages across Search, YouTube and over 1 million apps in our network. 

Available globally in September, App campaigns for engagement will soon also run in Google Play and support audiences from Google Analytics for Firebase. We’re also updating our audience management features to make it easier for you to connect with the right player segments. 

App campaigns for engagement will soon be able to serve ads in the Play Store

FunPlus, the developers behind the mobile strategy game King of Avalon, wanted to find ways to also get current players to come back during a mega update event. It used App campaigns for engagement to create custom messages for previous player groups who had stopped playing. This resulted in 34 percent more high-value players returning to play, as compared to other strategies it used.

To get started with App campaigns for engagement, make sure you set up deep linking and app conversion tracking, and use a supported measurement solution like Google Analytics for Firebase or one of our App Attribution Partners.  

Here are a few more features designed to help you reach players across the lifecycle of your game:  

  • App campaigns for pre-registration: Get a head start in building an excited community for your game before it launches. Learn more.
  • Maximize conversions bidding for App campaigns for installs: Drive as many installs as possible within a set budget to reach your campaign goals. Learn more.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS) open beta for App campaigns for installs: Adjust your bids dynamically based on the value each user is likely to bring for your game. Available later this year to all advertisers bidding on Google Analytics for Firebase events. Learn more. 
  • Creative simplification: Simplify your creative development process by creating image ads only in 1.91:1, 1:1, and 4:5 aspect ratios. You can also crop existing image assets to these aspect ratios with our new cropping tool. Learn more.

Maximize your ad revenue

To help you get the most value from your ads, Open Bidding will be available as a beta to all AdMob developers this fall. Today, many developers rely solely on waterfall mediation, a tried-and-true way to monetize with multiple advertising sources that can be hard to set up and manage at scale. Waterfall mediation calls ad networks one at a time until one of them returns an ad. Though effective, you could be losing out on additional revenue since networks are prioritized based on historical CPMs, rather than real-time pricing.

As Google’s in-app bidding solution, Open Bidding puts participating networks in a fair real-time auction to compete for your impressions, so the winner is always the highest paying network. This means you’ll get the highest revenue available for every impression. With Open Bidding, you can find the most popular demand sources to compete for your impressions in real time. Open Bidding makes earning more even easier by eliminating the need to manually set CPMs and reducing the number of SDKs your teams need to integrate and manage. 

CookApps used Open Bidding in order to grow revenue for its match-three puzzle game Candy Blast. By switching to Open Bidding, CookApps optimized revenue across ad networks and saw a 26 percent increase in both total ad revenue and CPMs, compared to their previous waterfall mediation setup. Open Bidding also enabled teams to save time from managing multiple networks, allowing it to focus on other priorities to expand its business. 

Along with Open Bidding, we’re announcing several other solutions to simplify your setup so you can earn even more from your apps:

  • Impression-level LTV pingback: Get real-time estimates of impression values to help measure lifetime value of players across all revenue sources (iOS, Android, Unity).

  • Rewarded interstitials: Increase engagement with rewarded ads by proactively showing players in-game offers in exchange for watching a video during gameplay breaks.

  • App open beta: See up to twice as much user engagement with the improved user experience of app open ads, which now offer standardized publisher branding and simplified user tap targets.Learn more.

  • AdMob plug-in for Unity software: Create and edit ads easily in the Unity interface, letting you quickly implement ads into your Unity game with just a single line of code. 

To hear more about how these solutions can help you build your community and grow your business, watch the Ads Announcements session and tune in to the full Think Gameslive stream.  

Categories: Technology

Making privacy personal with Files by GoogleMaking privacy personal with Files by Google

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 20:00

In many places around the world, sharing a personal device with spouses, siblings or children is often a cultural expectation, especially for women. Sharing a device can be beneficial, but it comes with the risk that others might access your personal files.


As part of Google’s research, we hear the perspectives of people like Shaina—a woman in Bangladesh whose children use her phone after school, both to learn and to play. Shaina worries that her important files could be accidentally shared or deleted. For Rashid, a father in India, the lack of privacy means he can’t keep his identity documents on his phone, even if he needs them for job applications. 


Building privacy features that make sense for different needs is a top priority for us as we continue to work towards a more inclusive internet. To keep personal content more safe, we're launching Safe Folder, a new feature in Files by Google.

How Safe Folder works


Safe Folder is a secure, 4-digit PIN-encrypted folder that protects your important documents, images, videos and audio files from being opened or accessed by others. The folder is securely locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, so none of its contents can be accessed when the app is in the background. As a security assurance, it will ask for your PIN again on reentry.  Even people that don't share devices can benefit from keeping the most important files safe.

Managing files for 150 million people


We launched the Files app in 2017 to help people free up space, manage content and share files. We wanted to help people who live in countries such as India, Nigeria and Brazil and often run out of space on a daily basis. Now, more than 150 million people around the world regularly use Files each month, reducing the stress of managing content on their phones.


And for the things you no longer need on your phone? Files can continue to help you with that. Since launch, the app has:


  • Deleted over 1 trillion files of digital clutter, which would take over 30,000 years if you were to manually remove a duplicate, old meme or junk file every second.

  • Saved 400+ petabytes of space on people’s phones—around 1,400 years of nonstop HD video recording.

  • Freed about 12GB of space every second, equivalent to 5,000 photos per second, allowing you to save more photos that mean a lot to you.  

The Safe Folder feature will start rolling out in beta for Files by Google today and we’ll gradually expand its availability to more people over the following weeks. You can get the app at g.co/getfiles to keep your content safe, free up space and make your phone feel like new.

As more than 150 million people around the world use Files by Google, we’re launching Safe Folder to make sure that privacy can be a reality for everyone.
Categories: Technology

Support for Southeast Asian startups tackling big challengesSupport for Southeast Asian startups tackling big challenges

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 19:30

Southeast Asia’s startups have helped build a thriving internet economy. Now, they have an equally important role to play in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic—and in tackling some of the biggest challenges Southeast Asia faces around education, health, e-commerce, logistics and financial technology.


In June, we launched Google for Startups Accelerator: Southeast Asia, a three-month online program to support startups working on social, economic and health problems across the region. We received more than 600 applications, and today we’re announcing the 15 startups chosen for the first cohort.

Over the next few months, these startups will receive mentorship on both technical and business challenges. We’ll also connect them to teams from Google and the wider technology industry, and provide workshops focused on designing products, customer service and leadership development for founders.


Here’s the full list of startups. We can’t wait to help them move their ideas forward as they make a difference for Southeast Asians over the next decade and beyond.


  • Advance (Philippines) is a credit platform that provides short-term salary advances for Filipino employees.

  • DeafTawk (Pakistan) has created a digital sign language interpretation service platform that breaks down communication barriers.

  • GIZTIX (Thailand) is an integrated logistics platform that helps customers grow their businesses and reduce operating costs.

  • Hacktiv8 (Indonesia) helps train beginner developers, supports them in finding jobs and provides a new, fairer type of student loan.  

  • Kata.ai (Indonesia) has developed a conversational artificial intelligence platform that enables more natural conversations between businesses and their customers.

  • MHub (Malaysia) is an end-to-end property transaction platform which makes the process of buying a home easier by linking property developers, real-estate agents and potential customers.  

  • Riliv (Indonesia) has created an online counseling and meditation app to help people with their mental health.  

  • Rumarocket (Philippines) has developed an AI tool that helps companies make hiring decisions using behavioral science.

  • Sehat Kahani (Pakistan) is working on providing access to affordable, technology-enabled healthcare via a network of qualified home-based women doctors.

  • SenzeHub (Singapore) offers a wearable, AI-powered device that determines a patient's location and does vitals reading and crisis detection. 

  • Shoplinks (Singapore) provides consumer-goods clients with tools to digitize their customer engagements and promotions.

  • Smartfuture (Singapore) is a telemedicine platform and self-monitoring diagnostic kiosk that allows users to check key health vitals

  • Thuocsi.vn (Vietnam) is an online platform to buy medicine, first aid and dispensary items

  • TopCV (Vietnam) is a recruitment platform that better connects recruiters and candidates.

  • Walee (Pakistan) is a trading app to connect businesses looking to sell items online with social influencers who want to collaborate with them.

A new Google for Startups Accelerator program will help 15 Southeast Asian startups working on social, health and economic challenges.
Categories: Technology

How insights from people around the world make Google Search betterHow insights from people around the world make Google Search better

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 12:00

Every Google search you do is one of billions we receive that day. In less than half a second, our systems sort through hundreds of billions of web pages to try and find the most relevant and helpful results available.


Because the web and people’s information needs keep changing, we make a lot of improvements to our search algorithms to keep up. Thousands per year, in fact. And we’re always working on new ways to make our results more helpful whether it’s a new feature, or bringing new language understanding capabilities to Search.


The improvements we make go through an evaluation process designed so that people around the world continue to find Google useful for whatever they’re looking for. Here are some ways that insights and feedback from people around the world help make Search better.


Our research team at work

Changes that we make to Search are aimed at making it easier for people to find useful information, but depending on their interests, what language they speak, and where they are in the world, different people have different information needs. It’s our mission to make information universally accessible and useful, and we are committed to serving all of our users in pursuit of that goal.


This is why we have a research team whose job it is to talk to people all around the world to understand how Search can be more useful. We invite people to give us feedback on different iterations of our projects and we do field research to understand how people in different communities access information online.


For example, we’ve learned over the years about the unique needs and technical limitations that people in emerging markets have when accessing information online. So we developed Google Go, a lightweight search app that works well with less powerful phones and less reliable connections. On Google Go, we’ve also introduced uniquely helpful features, including one that lets you listen to web pages out loud, which is particularly useful for people learning a new language or who may be less comfortable with reading long text. Features like these would not be possible without insights from the people who will ultimately use them.


Search quality raters

A key part of our evaluation process is getting feedback from everyday users about whether our ranking systems and proposed improvements are working well. But what do we mean by “working well”? We publish publicly available rater guidelines that describe in great detail how our systems intend to surface great content. These guidelines are more than 160 pages long, but if we have to boil it down to just a phrase, we like to say that Search is designed to return relevant results from the most reliable sources available.


Our systems use signals from the web itself—like where words in your search appear on web pages, or how pages link to one another on the web—to understand what information is related to your query and whether it’s information that people tend to trust. But notions of relevance and trustworthiness are ultimately human judgments, so to measure whether our systems are in fact understanding these correctly, we need to gather insights from people.


To do this, we have a group of more than 10,000 people all over the world we call “search quality raters.” Raters help us measure how people are likely to experience our results. They provide ratings based on our guidelines and represent real users and their likely information needs, using their best judgment to represent their locale. These people study and are tested on our rater guidelines before they can begin to provide ratings.


How rating works

Here’s how a rater task works: we generate a sample of queries (say, a few hundred). A group of raters will be assigned this set of queries, and they’re shown two versions of results pages for those searches. One set of results is from the current version of Google, and the other set is from an improvement we’re considering.


Raters review every page listed in the results set and evaluate that page against the query, based on our rater guidelines. They evaluate whether those pages meet the information needs based on their understanding of what that query was seeking, and they consider things like how authoritative and trustworthy that source seems to be on the topic in the query. To evaluate things like expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness—sometimes referred to as “E-A-T”—raters are asked to do reputational research on the sources.


Here’s what that looks like in practice: imagine the sample query is “carrot cake recipe.” The results set may include articles from recipe sites, food magazines, food brands and perhaps blogs. To determine if a webpage meets their information needs, a rater might consider how easy the cooking instructions are to understand, how helpful the recipe is in terms of visual instructions and imagery, and whether there are other useful features on the site, like a shopping list creator or calculator for recipe doubling. 


To understand if the author has subject matter expertise, a rater would do some online research to see if the author has cooking credentials, has been profiled or referenced on other food websites, or has produced other great content that has garnered positive reviews or ratings on recipe sites. Basically, they do some digging to answer questions like: is this page trustworthy, and does it come from a site or author with a good reputation?  


Ratings are not used directly for search ranking

Once raters have done this research, they then provide a quality rating for each page. It’s important to note that this rating does not directly impact how this page or site ranks in Search. Nobody is deciding that any given source is “authoritative” or “trustworthy.” In particular, pages are not assigned ratings as a way to determine how well to rank them. Indeed, that would be an impossible task and a poor signal for us to use. With hundreds of billions of pages that are constantly changing, there’s no way humans could evaluate every page on a recurring basis.


Instead, ratings are a data point that, when taken in aggregate, helps us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content that’s aligned with how people—across the country and around the world—evaluate information.


Last year alone, we did more than 383,605 search quality tests and 62,937 side-by-side experiments with our search quality raters to measure the quality of our results and help us make more than 3,600 improvements to our search algorithms. 


In-product experiments

Our research and rater feedback isn’t the only feedback we use when making improvements. We also need to understand how a new feature will work when it’s actually available in Search and people are using it as they would in real life. To make sure we’re able to get these insights, we test how people interact with new features through live experiments.


They’re called “live” experiments because they’re actually available to a small proportion of randomly selected people using the current version of Search. To test a change, we will launch a feature to a small percentage of all queries we get, and we look at a number of different metrics to measure the impact.


Did people click or tap on the new feature? Did most people just scroll past it? Did it make the page load slower? These insights can help us understand quite a bit about whether a new feature or change is helpful and if people will actually use it.


In 2019, we ran more than 17,000 live traffic experiments to test out new features and improvements to Search. If you compare that with how many launches actually happened (around 3600, remember?), you can see that only the best and most useful improvements make it into Search.


Always improving

While our search results will never be perfect, these research and evaluation processes have proven to be very effective over the past two decades. They allow us to make frequent improvements and ensure that the changes we make represent the needs of people around the world coming to Search for information.


From user research to live experiments and feedback from search quality raters, how insights from people around the world help us improve Search every day.
Categories: Technology

Delivering security and privacy for Exchange on AndroidDelivering security and privacy for Exchange on Android

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 12:00

For many Android users, Microsoft Exchange is the backend for their company email. Until recently, many email applications on Android used Device Admin capabilities to enforce the necessary security requirements on users’ devices, whether they were issued by their company or personally owned.

These APIs, which we began deprecating in Android 9 Pie, gave IT control over core security features such as device passcode requirements and remote data wipe. While this gives IT admins controls to promote data protection on the devices when using Exchange email clients, it also adds unnecessary complexity.

We've worked closely with Microsoft to create a new set of APIs that give email developers tools to secure their apps while adhering to the high standards we've set in Android for user privacy.

Google and Microsoft work together for user privacyWe teamed up with Microsoft to build a new way to offer the security that IT needs when using Microsoft Exchange, while offering the privacy employees have come to expect on personal Android devices.

IT admins have the option to require a user to follow a specified level of password complexity (options are for high, medium or low) to use their Exchange email app. If they don’t follow the set guidelines, they won’t be able to sync and access their corporate email. If IT needs to restrict or remove access on the device, no personal information, such as photos or downloads, will be removed. 

Combined with other Android technologies like the SafetyNet Attestation API, Android hardware-backed brute force protections and Google Play Protect, IT professionals can feel confident their data is protected by enterprise-grade security while giving their employees greater autonomy over their device. 

Bringing these improvements to more usersTo make sure as many users as possible can benefit from this change, the Android team has developed a backwards-compatible implementation of this approach in Google Mobile Services. Email app developers can migrate away from Device Admin on any version of Android they support.

Gmail will showcase this new functionality later this month. As Android app developers update apps to meet the official Device Admin deprecation requirements in Android 10 later this year, look for your favorite email client to take advantage of this functionality soon.

For companies whose needs evolve and would benefit from even greater management capabilities, we invite them to learn more at android.com/enterprise.

Google teamed up with Microsoft to build new APIs that give email developers tools to secure their apps with high user privacy standards.
Categories: Technology
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