Category Archives: Google Europe Blog

Google’s views on the Internet and society Europe

New report shows southern Europe’s tourism sector has room for online growth

When it comes time to plan a holiday, the internet is an essential research tool. Whether to pick a destination, find a hotel or identify the local sites on and off the beaten path, online content is essential to helping most of us make these plans. And that's why it is so essential that popular tourist destinations, and those hoping to attract more visitors, have high quality content online.

A new research paper from Oxford Economics shows just how critical that online content is for tourism destinations across Southern Europe. Consumers increasingly turn to and trust what they find online with over 60 percent of consumers seek information online from websites and social media making these sources more trusted than traditional media and personal recommendations. In fact, 56 percent of tourism revenue in the EU is now researched or booked online, an increase from 43 percent since 2012.

EU28 - sources cited amongst most important 3, 2015

Since Oxford Economics’ initial research, many tourism destinations have improved their bookings, revenue and job growth by increasing the amount of online content available. For example, more than 180,000 and 90,000 new jobs have been created in Italy and Spain respectively due to improvements in online content.

Cultural content is a key component of what potential tourists are looking for when planning a holiday. Tourism-related searches have grown by about 45 percent since 2010. Across southern Europe, 23 percent of tourism searches are culture-related including for music, arts and festivals, historic sites and museums. And for many of the most lucrative source markets like the U.S., these cultural searches are even higher than some European countries where mass market sun and beach holidays remain important.

Oxford Economics’ research shows that not only are online resources essential research and booking channels for tourism, but that there remains a gap between the amount of online content from Southern Europe and the potential demand from source markets. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs could be created by investing in more online content.

Incremental employment opportunity

Google is working with partners across these markets to encourage more tourism businesses and cultural organizations to improve their online content to help capture this potential increase in visitors. Our Grow Greek Tourism Online program has helped tens of thousands of Greek tourist destinations get online and improve their web presence. We trained Online Advisors who provide face to face training for businesses in more than eighty cities across Greece. We’ve also worked with 234 cultural partners in these countries, making cultural heritage like the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid more accessible to tourists and locals through Google Arts and Culture.

In Malta, where 43 percent of total tourism-related queries are focused on cultural attractions, historical sights and famous buildings, cultural information represents a concrete opportunity for local tourist businesses and cultural institutions to grow their audiences online. We worked with Heritage Malta to create the “Wonders of Malta.” This is a unique collection offering viewers from across the world the opportunity to experience the most spectacular collection of Maltese treasures all in one place, at g.co/wondersofmalta. We also made Street View available in Malta, benefiting organizations and businesses. The street-level imagery of the location can help them promote and increase awareness of their business—whether it's a restaurant, hotel, local attraction or any other point of interest.

Measuring the impact of our digital skills training

Because everyone deserves the benefits of the best digital technology to help them grow their business, but not everyone has the skills they need, Google launched an ambitious training programme across Europe. We've now reached over 3m Europeans, the EU recognised our contribution with the EU Digital Skills Award, and many of those who spent time on the training are seeing real impact. 

Here's a typical example:

Giuseppe Di Pasquale’s is the owner of Le Zagare di Vendicari, an agriturismo business in Sicily. Giuseppe wanted to grow his business online but lacked the skills to make that happen. He took up training through Eccellenze in Digitale, our Italian digital skills platform, and has now applied what he learned to his business. He’s seen visits to his site increase by 40% and doubled his bookings.

Giuseppe’s story is just one of over 3 million European graduates of our programme. Our training aimed to help those who could put it to work immediately to make a difference - students, small business owners, people who were not in education, employment or other training - because we know that businesses with the right digital skills are growing faster, creating more jobs and exports and making an important contribution to their countries.

Digital skills: an opportunity for Europe
The EU identified a digital skills gap - 500,000 jobs needing skills that people don’t have.  That’s why we launched the Digital Workshop programme

Over the last 2.5 years, we have worked with partners across Europe to achieve scale and impact, from the Ministry of Labour and other partners to train young unemployed people through Crescere in Digitale in Italy, partnering with Bertelsmann and Udacity to deliver 13,000 Android nanodegree scholarships, to developing new curriculum with The Good Things Foundation in the UK, and many dedicated Training partners who deliver the course content week after week.  Training ran online and in hundreds of 'in person' sessions, and was tailored to the most pressing needs in each country, youth unemployment in Spain, digital exports in Germany, small businesses and youth in Italy.

We commissioned Ipsos to survey our training alumni to see how the training has helped them to grow their careers and businesses and found fantastic results.

Ipsos found that 79% of SMBs trained were more confident using digital tools to run their business. And half the students trained feel more confident in their professional future.

69% of small businesses trained changed at least one aspect of how they run their business online. The top five included optimising websites for mobile, for search and for social media, as well as using website analytics and developing better site content. In fact, 49% of SMEs felt the training helped them get ahead of the competition.

Helping people find jobs

Sylwia Kempa raised her confidence and got a promotion as a result of the training she received through Internetowe Rewolucje, our Polish digital skills program. She was promoted to Content Marketing Manager at the agency where she worked - responsible for overseeing online campaigns and the agency’s expansion in local and international markets. “Taking part in Internetowe Rewolucje assured me that choosing to develop my digital skills was the best decision I could make,” says Sylwia. “I now have the qualification to turn my passion into a career.”

So people and businesses are improving their confidence, boosting their skills and making changes that grow careers and businesses faster and create new jobs. Over a half of SMEs noticed a positive change in business results within 14 weeks after the training. They’re winning new customers, increasing sales and profits.  And vitally, particularly in countries where youth unemployment is a big issue, 18% of students trained found a job, started their own business or started to work freelance.

You can read more stories of European graduates of our training programs and how they are applying the skills they acquired to their careers. And if you want to raise your own skills, it’s not too late to get started - visit our Growth Engine for Digital Skills site today!

The European Commission decision on online shopping: the other side of the story

When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.

We believe the European Commission’s online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data show that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.

We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay.

Google shopping screengrab

When the Commission asks why some comparison websites have not done as well as others, we think it should consider the many sites that have grown in this period--including platforms like Amazon and eBay. With its comparison tools, reviews, millions of retailers, and vast range of products from sneakers to groceries, Amazon is a formidable competitor and has become the first port of call for product searches.  And as Amazon has grown, it’s natural that some comparison services have proven less popular than others. We compete with Amazon and other sites for shopping-related searches by showing ever more useful product information.

When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for. Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller--it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.

Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.

Four steps we’re taking today to fight online terror

Editor’s Note: This post appeared as an op-ed in the Financial Times earlier today.

Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and YouTube are committed to being part of the solution. We are working with government, law enforcement and civil society groups to tackle the problem of violent extremism online. There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.

While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now.

We have thousands of people around the world who review and counter abuse of our platforms. Our engineers have developed technology to prevent re-uploads of known terrorist content using image-matching technology. We have invested in systems that use content-based signals to help identify new videos for removal. And we have developed partnerships with expert groups, counter-extremism agencies, and the other technology companies to help inform and strengthen our efforts.

Today, we are pledging to take four additional steps.

First, we are increasing our use of technology to help identify extremist and terrorism-related videos. This can be challenging: a video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting if broadcast by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user. We have used video analysis models to find and assess more than 50 per cent of the terrorism-related content we have removed over the past six months. We will now devote more engineering resources to apply our most advanced machine learning research to train new “content classifiers” to help us more quickly identify and remove extremist and terrorism-related content.

Second, because technology alone is not a silver bullet, we will greatly increase the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger programme. Machines can help identify problematic videos, but human experts still play a role in nuanced decisions about the line between violent propaganda and religious or newsworthy speech. While many user flags can be inaccurate, Trusted Flagger reports are accurate over 90 per cent of the time and help us scale our efforts and identify emerging areas of concern. We will expand this programme by adding 50 expert NGOs to the 63 organisations who are already part of the programme, and we will support them with operational grants. This allows us to benefit from the expertise of specialised organisations working on issues like hate speech, self-harm, and terrorism. We will also expand our work with counter-extremist groups to help identify content that may be being used to radicalise and recruit extremists.

Third, we will be taking a tougher stance on videos that do not clearly violate our policies — for example, videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content. In future these will appear behind an interstitial warning and they will not be monetised, recommended or eligible for comments or user endorsements. That means these videos will have less engagement and be harder to find. We think this strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.

Finally, YouTube will expand its role in counter-radicalisation efforts. Building on our successful Creators for Change programme promoting YouTube voices against hate and radicalisation, we are working with Jigsaw to implement the “Redirect Method” more broadly across Europe. This promising approach harnesses the power of targeted online advertising to reach potential Isis recruits, and redirects them towards anti-terrorist videos that can change their minds about joining. In previous deployments of this system, potential recruits have clicked through on the ads at an unusually high rate, and watched over half a million minutes of video content that debunks terrorist recruiting messages.

We have also recently committed to working with industry colleagues—including Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter—to establish an international forum to share and develop technology and support smaller companies and accelerate our joint efforts to tackle terrorism online.

Collectively, these changes will make a difference. And we’ll keep working on the problem until we get the balance right. Extremists and terrorists seek to attack and erode not just our security, but also our values; the very things that make our societies open and free. We must not let them. Together, we can build lasting solutions that address the threats to our security and our freedoms. It is a sweeping and complex challenge. We are committed to playing our part.

Wonders of Malta and Google Street View to enrich Malta’s digital profile

The reasons people travel haven’t changed much over the years. But how we look for information, about where we’ll go or what the local customs are has increasingly moved online. Google Trends tells us that the majority of tourism-related search queries are general--things like hotels or transportation options. But in Malta, called the “Gem of the Mediterranean,” as much as 43% of total tourism-related queries are focused on cultural attractions, historical sights, and famous buildings.

This kind of demand for information doesn’t just help Malta’s visitors find what they’re looking for--it has become a concrete opportunity for local tourism businesses and for cultural institutions to grow their audiences online.

There’s more. According to a soon-to-be-released report “The Impact of Online Content on European Tourism” carried out by Oxford Economics for Google in Southern European countries, clear and accessible online information can power growth in local economies. This in turn leads to new job creation and further GDP growth. This is particularly true and relevant for countries like Malta where tourism remains a significantly important economic sector, accounting for up 26% of the national GDP.

With this in mind we worked with Heritage Malta to create the “Wonders of Malta” project on Google Arts & Culture. This is a unique collection offering viewers from across the world the opportunity to experience the most spectacular collection of Maltese treasures all in one place, at g.co/wondersofmalta.


From your smartphone or PC you can now walk across the Ġgantija Temples, the oldest, free-standing monument in the world, or immerse yourself in the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, considered one of world’s most important prehistoric monuments. In a few taps on your smartphone you can move to Valletta and visit the National Museum of Archaeology and its rich collections. The Wonders of Malta project is made of more than 600 new assets, including photos, videos and other documents, 13 super-high resolution “gigapixel” images, more than 35 new exhibits, as well as 28 cardboard tours that will guide users through the diversity and richness of the Maltese culture.

That’s not all. After driving more than 2,500 kilometres across all of Malta and Gozo and taking thousands of 360 degree pictures of many locations, starting today we are also making Street View available in Malta. Users can get an immersive look at the maltese natural landscape, cultural and historic sites, including heritage and touristic attractions, from Valletta to St. Julian’s and Victoria as well as many others, through panoramic street-level images.  Organisations and businesses can also benefit from the Street View technology. The street-level imagery of the location in fact can help them promote and increase awareness of their business - whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, local attraction or any other point of interest.

Street View Malta
Street View in Malta

Whether you’re a student looking to improve your digital skills, or a visitor interested in knowing more about Malta, with the help of Google technologies and platform and the great contents provided by our partners we believe we are contributing positively not only to Malta’s digital profile but to the further development of its cultural and economic life. 

English county council saves millions switching to G Suite and Chromebooks

A day in the life of an employee at Northumberland County Council in northern England involves everything from running schools, repairing roads or literally putting out fires. It’s work that never stops and that stretches across a rural area the size of Greater London with 330,000 citizens and three million sheep.

Two years ago, the Northumberland IT team started to notice strain in their service infrastructure which connects 380 locations across the region, and recent budget cuts made that system feel increasingly unworkable.

"We had a very big legacy setup that was costing us a fortune in licensing and devices,” says Neil Arnold, Chief Information Officer at Northumberland County Council. “We decided to bring people together in a central hub to make teams more agile."

Creating G Suite champions

After evaluation, Arnold and his team chose G Suite for its functionality and flexibility. The team relied on Netpremacy, a Google Cloud partner, to train 300 staff members to educate colleagues on how to use G Suite. Within months, 5,500 corporate users and 11,500 schools users had been set up with G Suite accounts. “Without the support of Netpremacy, we wouldn't have been able to implement as rapidly as we did,” says Arnold. “They recognised the cultural challenges. There was skepticism at first, but users really took the tools to heart when they could see the benefits.”

From different locations across the region, staff began working collaboratively on Docs and Sheets and inviting others to join. The team saved money by switching to Chromebooks and Arnold and his colleagues started using Hangouts to join meetings to stay synced on daily work.

Even firefighters, who were reluctant to try out Hangouts at first, started using it regularly. “Firefighters now use Hangouts at the scene of fires to communicate with central command, monitor the fire, and decide how many vehicles they need,” says Arnold. “The chief fire officer doesn't have to get in his car and drive out to the scene to help — he can do it all from wherever he is.”

Firefighters use Hangouts at the scene of fires to communicate to central command, so the chief fire officer doesn't have to drive to the scene. Neil Arnold CIO, Northumberland County Council

Saving big by going cloud-first

Arnold expects switching to Chromebooks will help Northumberland County Council save close to £2.5 million on licensing and hardware, without sacrificing data security since Chromebooks have multiple protection layers.

The next step for Arnold and his team is to bring G Suite to the classroom. “We've got a lot of schools using Google Classroom successfully,” he says, “and we want to roll G Suite out to more schools. It’ll be a big efficiency for them, because many have small file servers on site, that they manage themselves or pay a third-party to manage. Drive will help them decommission that.”

Meanwhile, outdated exchange and file servers are being closed down across the council as data is seamlessly transferred to Google Cloud. The new central office for the county is set to open in 2019, and Arnold does not plan to have a datacenter at the new building: “That footprint’s going to reduce over the next three years to virtually nothing.” 

“I've been working in IT for over 30 years and this has been one of the most successful and satisfying projects I've ever been involved in,” says Arnold. “We’ve achieved more than we expected and using G Suite has been a tremendous catalyst for change.”

Celebrating five years of Campus, a home for startups

We’re big believers in the power of startups to fuel progress and build businesses that make a positive impact—on individuals, communities and economies. But most great startups don’t go it alone: A supportive community is critical to their success. That’s why five years ago, we opened the doors of Campus London and Campus Tel Aviv, our first spaces for entrepreneurs to learn, share, connect and collaborate.

Since then, Google for Entrepreneurs has gone on to open four more Campuses in Seoul, Madrid, Warsaw, São Paulo—and Campus now has 200,000+ members globally. While each location customizes trainings and events to reflect the needs of their city, they have a few key things in common: Anyone can join as a member, host an event for the benefit of local entrepreneurs, or attend educational sessions, all for free. And all of our Campus communities are made of people who see problems as opportunities and then take action to fix them. Founders in Campuses are working to improve the health of older generations with apps like KareInn, foster interaction between governments with citizens with Nama, and help babies and parents sleep better with a smart device called Whisbear

Together, startups in Campus communities have created more than 11,000 jobs and raised more than $537 million in funding for entrepreneurs since 2012. Learn more about these founders and the Campuses they call home:

We’re so proud to support them!

Connecting the best CEE startups with European VC funds at Campus Warsaw

Central and Eastern Europe is rich with technical talent and a growing number of globally-minded startups, yet it is a fragmented region of over 150 million people, living in more than a dozen countries. When startups start to gain traction and think about scaling internationally, they face a problem on how to raise VC funds.  At the same time, global venture capital funds are searching for young companies to invest in, but often are unable to travel extensively across the CEE region.  

 Last  week Campus Warsaw, a Google space for entrepreneurs, hosted the first-ever CEE All Stars event to connect 40 of the region’s most promising startups together with 25 venture capital firms, making it the biggest fundraising event of its kind in all of Central and Eastern Europe.

Campus Warsaw’s mission is to connect the region’s entrepreneurs to global startup ecosystem and  directly support entrepreneurs with programs at every stage of the lifecycle.

When we launched 18 months ago, coworking hubs from Poland, Estonia, Czechia, Hungary, Lithuania and more CEE countries met to discuss how a network could support startups from the entire region. In the months that followed, we brought together startup hubs, accelerators, and early-stage venture capital firms to create a much-needed community--and conceived CEE All Stars as our flagship Community event.

CEE All Stars 3
Entrepreneurs and investors at CEE All Stars at Campus Warsaw

Each startup at CEE All Stars had the opportunity to briefly present its idea and business model to potential investors during pitching sessions, followed by individual 1:1 meetings: “During the 2 day intensive event, I was able to have 16 meetings with VCs, something I usually make in a year on my own” said one of the founders present at the event.

CEE All Stars 2
Entrepreneurs and investors at CEE All Stars at Campus Warsaw

While the startups at CEE All Stars come from the same region, they are quite a diversified group across different industries and different stages of business.

  • We hosted startups launched five years ago (such as Latvian Sellfy) and five months ago (Estonian Shipitwise);

  • Those who have already experienced a great success on the market (e.g. PublishDrive, an e-book publisher that has just been chosen for LaunchPad Accelerator program, or Funderful, which provides services to universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Berkeley) and those who have just reached profitability.

  • They represent a wide range of industries from fintech (Czech BudgetBakers or Lithuanian Welltrado) or health (Estonian SoterAnalytics) to travel (Polish BeforeYouGo or Czech ClaimAir) and culture (Lithuanian Bescouted or Polish Flowbox).

  • Some pitched cutting-edge technology, e.g. Wolf3D, which creates truly realistic avatars to represent people in VR, or iGreet, using Augmented Reality to produce cards that provoke increased emotional experience.

What they all have in common is courage, a passion for innovation and hunger for international success.

We were blown away by the talent, and hope that in a few years’ time, when startups present at Campus Warsaw this week look back, they will consider CEE All Stars as a milestone in the development of their business. We also look forward to replicating this type of fundraising event together with other regional coworking hubs. CEE All Stars hosted by Campus Warsaw may be the first of its kind--but we have a feeling it won’t be the last.

Connecting the best CEE startups with European VC funds at Campus Warsaw

Central and Eastern Europe is rich with technical talent and a growing number of globally-minded startups, yet it is a fragmented region of over 150 million people, living in more than a dozen countries. When startups start to gain traction and think about scaling internationally, they face a problem on how to raise VC funds.  At the same time, global venture capital funds are searching for young companies to invest in, but often are unable to travel extensively across the CEE region.  

 Last  week Campus Warsaw, a Google space for entrepreneurs, hosted the first-ever CEE All Stars event to connect 40 of the region’s most promising startups together with 25 venture capital firms, making it the biggest fundraising event of its kind in all of Central and Eastern Europe.

Campus Warsaw’s mission is to connect the region’s entrepreneurs to global startup ecosystem and  directly support entrepreneurs with programs at every stage of the lifecycle.

When we launched 18 months ago, coworking hubs from Poland, Estonia, Czechia, Hungary, Lithuania and more CEE countries met to discuss how a network could support startups from the entire region. In the months that followed, we brought together startup hubs, accelerators, and early-stage venture capital firms to create a much-needed community--and conceived CEE All Stars as our flagship Community event.

CEE All Stars 3
Entrepreneurs and investors at CEE All Stars at Campus Warsaw

Each startup at CEE All Stars had the opportunity to briefly present its idea and business model to potential investors during pitching sessions, followed by individual 1:1 meetings: “During the 2 day intensive event, I was able to have 16 meetings with VCs, something I usually make in a year on my own” said one of the founders present at the event.

CEE All Stars 2
Entrepreneurs and investors at CEE All Stars at Campus Warsaw

While the startups at CEE All Stars come from the same region, they are quite a diversified group across different industries and different stages of business.

  • We hosted startups launched five years ago (such as Latvian Sellfy) and five months ago (Estonian Shipitwise);

  • Those who have already experienced a great success on the market (e.g. PublishDrive, an e-book publisher that has just been chosen for LaunchPad Accelerator program, or Funderful, which provides services to universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Berkeley) and those who have just reached profitability.

  • They represent a wide range of industries from fintech (Czech BudgetBakers or Lithuanian Welltrado) or health (Estonian SoterAnalytics) to travel (Polish BeforeYouGo or Czech ClaimAir) and culture (Lithuanian Bescouted or Polish Flowbox).

  • Some pitched cutting-edge technology, e.g. Wolf3D, which creates truly realistic avatars to represent people in VR, or iGreet, using Augmented Reality to produce cards that provoke increased emotional experience.

What they all have in common is courage, a passion for innovation and hunger for international success.

We were blown away by the talent, and hope that in a few years’ time, when startups present at Campus Warsaw this week look back, they will consider CEE All Stars as a milestone in the development of their business. We also look forward to replicating this type of fundraising event together with other regional coworking hubs. CEE All Stars hosted by Campus Warsaw may be the first of its kind--but we have a feeling it won’t be the last.

Exploring with Udacity: how four lucky Android scholars experienced Google I/O

Last November, with Udacity and Bertelsmann, we announced a new scholarship program for 10,000 EU Android developers to learn new skills. But due to an overwhelming response, we ended up awarding a whopping 13,500 scholarships.Through a Google-certified Udacity course, we embarked on a journey to help these young developers pursue their dreams and make most of what internet has to offer them.

Some of these developers come from families or communities that told them that “tech is not for girls.” Some had the courage to quit their jobs at 30 for an internship that brought them closer to their goal of becoming Android developers. Others couldn’t imagine themselves embracing a new career path right away but knew developer skills could be important regardless. What united them all was the desire to learn, and to open new doors to opportunities for the future.

Udacity Medium Screenshot
A fragment from Android scholar George’s story on Medium. George was awarded the Android Beginners scholarship.  

Four lucky young people that benefited from the scholarship program and have shown an amazing level of commitment were selected to attend Google I/O 2017—Amanda from London, U.K., Jacub from Wroclaw, Poland, Stefanie  from Vienna, Austria, and Bart from Warsaw, Poland. And through #MyIOwithUdacity we got to tag along.

We started by getting to know them better—observing their excitement as they packed for California, the surprise on their faces at so many great developers under one tent, and to watch how inspired they were by the I/O presenters and their fellow attendees.

Each day we went along for the ride, watching their photos & videos from the heart of the I/O action.

The Google I/O Adventure was just one of many opportunities for the thousands of European scholarship recipients we’re so proud of across the region. We’re committed to championing these scholars long-term and to opening new doors for the European developer community.