Monthly Archives: December 2013

Promoting transparency around Europe

When eight technology companies presented a plan this month to reform government surveillance, a key request concerned transparency. At Google, we were the first company to publish a transparency report detailing the requests we receive from governments around the world to bring down content or hand over information on users.

But Google’s report represents only a narrow snapshot. It is limited to a single company. Imagine instead if all the requests for information on Internet users and for takedowns of web content in a country could be published. This would give a much more effective picture of the state of Internet freedom. As the year draws to a close, we’re happy to report that Panoptykon, a Polish NGO, published this month a preliminary Internet transparency report for Poland and Fores, a Stockholm-based think tank, issued a study in Sweden.

In Poland and Sweden, we helped initiate these transparency efforts and supported them financially. NGOs in six other European countries are working on national transparency reports. Our Estonian-supported transparency coalition already published a report last spring. In addition, university researchers in Hong Kong moved ahead over the summer with their own report. In Strasbourg, the Council of Europe recently held an important conference on the subject and hopefully will move ahead to present a series of recommendations on transparency for its 47 members.

Each transparency campaign takes a different approach - we hope this process of experimentation will help all of us learn. The Estonian effort, titled Project 451, focuses on content removals, not government surveillance, because the authors believe this is the most important issue in their country. The name of Project “451″ refers to HTTP Status Code 451, defined as “unavailable for legal reasons” and the report found that many web platforms were taking legal content down due to fears of legal liability.

The new Polish and Swedish reports attempt to shed light on government requests for information on users. Fores contacted 339 Swedish authorities and found that more than a third had requested data about users or takedowns of user-uploaded content. Panoptykon uncovered that Polish telcos received 1.76 million requests for user information in 2012, while Internet companies polled received approximately 7,500. In addition, Panoptykon discovered that many Polish government requests for information on users were based on a flawed or unclear legal basis.

Admittedly, both the Swedish and Polish reports remain incomplete. Not all Internet companies participated. Much relevant data must be missing. Like with our own Google report, we hope to continue filling in the holes in the future. Our aim is to see this campaign gather momentum because the bottom line is transparency is essential to a debate over government surveillance powers.

AdWords API: Start your migration from ClientLogin to OAuth 2.0 now

Is your AdWords API client application still using ClientLogin? If so, you should start your migration from ClientLogin to OAuth 2.0 as soon as possible.

Your AdWords API client applications must be fully migrated to OAuth 2.0 before ClientLogin is sunset in June 2014, as previously announced. If you don't migrate by then, your client applications will fail -- they won't be able to access your MCC account or any AdWords account via the API.

How do I get started?

We have prepared a ClientLogin to OAuth 2.0 migration guide which includes:

  • Detailed migration strategies based on use cases
  • Code samples to automate parts of the migration
  • Client library-specific migration videos, code, and pertinent OAuth 2.0 documentation

You don't want to worry about your applications failing, so get started now. For most developers with a single top level MCC, this migration will involve only a few configuration and code changes. But if you run into any issues with your particular application or AdWords accounts, you'll be glad you left plenty of time before the sunset to work things out.

We are here to help

If you run into any issues, or if you have any questions, please reach out to us on the AdWords API Forum.

Klarna tracks third-party iframe with Universal Analytics’ cookieless approach

Klarna is one of the biggest providers in Europe of in-store credit and invoice based payment solutions for the ecommerce sector. The company enables the end-consumer to order and receive products, then pay for them afterwards. Klarna assesses the credit and fraud risk for the  merchant, allowing the merchant to have a zero-friction checkout process – a win-win for the merchant-customer relationship.

Third-party domains pose a problem
Merchants use Klarna’s iframed checkout solution. The iframe is located on the merchant’s domain, but the actual iframe contents are hosted on  Klarna’s own domain. Browsers such as Safari on iPhone and iPad, and later generation desktop browsers such as Internet Explorer 10 prevent  third-party cookies by default. Many analytics solutions rely on the use of cookies though. In order to prevent the loss of nearly all iPhone visits and  many desktop visits, Klarna wanted to address this problem. 

A cookieless approach to the rescue
Working with Google Analytics Certified Partner Outfox, Klarna found exactly what it needed in Universal Analytics, which introduces a set of features that change the way data is collected and organized in Google Analytics accounts. In addition to standard Google Analytics features, Universal Analytics provides new data collection methods, simplified feature configuration, custom dimensions and metrics, and multi-platform tracking.
“Thanks to Universal Analytics we can track the iframe on our merchants’ domains and be sure we get all traffic.”
- David Fock, Vice President Commerce, Klarna

In Klarna’s new cookieless approach, the “storage: none” option was selected in creating the account in Universal Analytics. The checkout iframe meanwhile uses a unique non-personally identifiable ‘client ID’. These measures cause Universal Analytics to disable cookies and instead use the client ID as a session identifier. Because no cookies are in use, browsers that don’t allow for third-party cookies aren’t an issue at all. 

Virtual pageviews are sent on checkout form interactions. Custom dimensions and metrics are used for tagging a visit, with a dimension  indicating which merchant is hosting the iframe, and a metric showing what cart value the user brings to the checkout.

Complete tracking and assured analysis
With Universal Analytics features, Klarna ensures iframe tracking is complete across all browsers. By using the virtual pageviews as URL goals  and funnel steps, goal flow visualizations are used to find bottlenecks in the checkout flow. The new custom dimensions and metrics together with  ecommerce tracking mean that reports can now be set up to reveal how each merchant’s cart value correlates to its final transaction value.

Be sure to check out the whole case study here.

Posted by the Google Analytics Team

Fab Friday is a Google Maps video fest

Author photo
G’day and welcome to Fab Friday! It’s holiday time in many places around the world, and what better way to celebrate than to watch a series of videos. So kick back, relax, and snag some cool mapping skills.

Mano Marks presents an entire series in one go – four videos on getting started with the Google Maps JavaScript API. Here’s episode 1:

That rocks! Follow right along with the episodes 2, 3 and 4. Now you’re ready to map and roll.

See how to import data into Google Maps Engine with Josh Livni and Mark McDonald. Google Maps Engine (GME) provides an easy way to create and share maps, and to put data into the Google cloud. Josh and Mark walk through some Python examples, showing various ways to import vector and raster data into your GME account:

Tap the geospatial data in Freebase to put knowledge on your map. Freebase is a dataset of well-known facts about people, places, businesses, and other entities, derived from the web. Josh Livni and Ewa Gasperowicz show you how to query the Freebase API and get back information to put on a map:

Looking for some stylish color schemes for your maps? Want to simplify, hide, or highlight specific map features? Paul Saxman talks about Snazzy Maps by Atmist, a community-driven repository of map styles for Google Maps. Paul shows you how to add the custom map styles to your app using the Google Maps JavaScript API, and also how to contribute styles to Snazzy Maps yourself:

Ready for more shows from the Google Maps API team? Find them all at Google Developers Live.

The Beautiful Design Winter 2013 Collection on Google Play

Posted by Marco Paglia, Android Design Team

While beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, designing apps for a platform also requires an attention to platform norms to ensure a great user experience. The Android Design site is an excellent resource for designers and developers alike to get familiar with Android’s visual, interaction, and written language. Many developers have taken advantage of the tools and techniques provided on the site, and every now and then we like to showcase a few notable apps that go above and beyond the guidelines.

This summer, we published the first Beautiful Design collection on Google Play. Today, we're refreshing the collection with a new set of apps just in time for the holiday season.

As a reminder, the goal of this collection is to highlight beautiful apps with masterfully crafted design details such as beautiful presentation of photos, crisp and meaningful layout and typography, and delightful yet intuitive gestures and transitions.

The newly updated Beautiful Design Winter 2013 collection includes:

Timely (by Bitspin), a clock app that takes animation to a whole new level. Screen transitions are liquid smooth and using the app feels more like playing with real objects than fussing around with knobs and buttons. If you’ve ever wondered if setting an alarm could be fun, Timely unequivocally answers “yes”.

Circa, a news reader that’s fast, elegant and full of beautiful design details throughout. Sophisticated typography and banner image effects, coupled with an innovative and "snappy" interaction, makes reading an article feel fast and very, very fun.

Etsy, an app that helps you explore a world of wonderful hand-crafted goods with thoughtfully designed screen transitions, beautifully arranged layouts, and subtle flourishes like a blur effect that lets you focus on the task at hand. This wonderfully detailed app is an absolute joy to use.

Airbnb, The Whole Pantry, Runtastic Heart Rate Pro, Tumblr, Umano, Yahoo! Weather… each with delightful design details.

Grand St. and Pinterest, veterans of the collection from this summer.

If you’re an Android developer, make sure to play with some of these apps to get a sense for the types of design details that can separate good apps from great ones. And remember to review the Android Design guidelines and the Android Design in Action video series for more ideas on how to design your next beautiful Android app.

Supporting open government in New Europe

The “New Europe” countries that joined the European Union over the past decade are moving ahead fast to use the Internet to improve transparency and open government. We recently partnered with Techsoup Global to support online projects driving forward good governance in Romania, the Czech Republic, and most recently, in Slovakia.

Techsoup Global, in partnership with the Slovak Center for Philanthropy, recently held an exciting social-startups awards ceremony Restart Slovakia 2013 in Bratislava. Slovakia’s Deputy Minister of Finance and Digital Champion Peter Pellegrini delivered keynote promoting Internet and Open Data and announced the winners of this year contest. Ambassadors from U.S., Israel and Romania and several distinguished Slovak NGOs also attended the ceremony.

Winning projects included:
  • Vzdy a vsade - Always and Everywhere - a volunteer portal offering online and anonymous psychological advice to internet users via chat.
  • - a portal providing counsel for victims of sexual assaults.
  • Co robim - an educational online library of job careers advising young people how to choose their career paths and dream jobs.
  • Mapa zlocinu - an online map displaying various rates of criminality in different neighbourhoods.
  • - a platform focused on analyzing public statements of politicians and releasing information about politicians and truthfulness of their speeches in a user-friendly format.

An award ceremony highlight was a live concert by the Diplomatic Immunity Band. The combo (shown above at an earlier gig) includes US Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick on keyboard; Israeli ambassador Alexander Ben-Zvi on conga, Romanian Ambassador Florin Vodita on electric guitar, President of Institute of Public Affairs Grigorij Meseznikov on electro acoustic guitar, and the Banska Bystrica Mayor Peter Gogola on drums. We’re delighted they found the time to make sweet music in favor of open data and data-driven innovation.

Reach your giving season goals with Google tools

We’re always inspired by organizations who use technology in innovative ways to extend and communicate their impact. Recently, we sat down with one such nonprofit, N/a’an ku sê, an organization that conserves and preserves the people and animals of Namibia through projects like an animal sanctuary, free health clinic, children’s school and the newly added nature reserve. Their digital marketing and communications manager, Leah Llach shared several tips and real-life examples on how to get the most out of seasonal online communications and how Google tools can help. We’ve shared a few of her insights below, but make sure to watch the Hangout to get the full story.
  1. Set goals. Work with your team to create written priorities for the holiday season. If you're working on several different projects, this helps everyone align on the mission and direction.
  2. Speak the same language. Internally, it can be as simple as naming conventions in spreadsheets and databases. For example, using the term ‘Animal Adoption’ instead of ‘Animal Adoptions’ can affect how your filters work and result in inaccurate data. Externally, keep your holiday messaging across your website, ads, emails and videos consistent.
  3. Use video to connect with users. When you’re halfway around the world, people need a way to connect with you emotionally and videos do that better than just text or photos. N/a’an ku sê focuses on sharing videos showing the impact of their work in Namibia to influence users while fundraising. Last year’s efforts alone resulted in a 128% increase in donations within December and January.1

To learn more about these ideas and using Analytics, YouTube and Google Ad Grants to maximize your online communications, check out the full Hangout with Leah. And if you're interested in other ways to leverage online tools during giving season, continue to visit our Google+ page, Twitter and blog for more best practices tagged #givingseason.
Posted by Colby Chilcote, Google for Nonprofits team

[1]  N/a’an ku sê Internal Revenue Data

Now you can live stream on YouTube

Over the last year, we’ve seen creators across music, gaming, sports, news and more categories use the power of live video to create amazing experiences for their audiences, and build new fans.
Now, all YouTube channels that verify their account and are in good standing will be able to live stream live video to the world. We’re rolling out the feature over the next few weeks, and you can see if you have access on the YouTube account feature page or wait for Live Events to appear in your Video Manager.

To give you even more ways to connect with fans, you can now launch a Google+ Hangout on Air directly from the YouTube Live events manager. This gives you a simple way to reach your fans live and is the ideal way to invite participants to join your show.
To learn more about creating great live content check out the YouTube Creator Playbook for strategies and tips.

Satyajeet Salgar, Product Manager and Tim James, Software Engineer recently watched “Trick Shot Titus 3

Wrangle Your Site Categories And Product Types With Content Grouping

Viewing your site content in logical groups is important for sites and businesses of all types. It lets you understand how different categories of products are working together and the buckets that generate the most revenue. Or, if you run a news site understand which categories are the hottest and most in demand. Some of you have been analyzing these things in the past via Advanced Segments but we want to make this even easier and more useful across the product. That’s why we’re excited to launch Content Grouping.

Content Grouping allows sites to group their pages through tracking code, a UI-based rules editor, and/or UI-based extraction rules. Once implemented, Content Groupings become a dimension of the content reports and allow users to visualize their data based on each group in addition to the other primary dimensions.
We’ve been hard at work refining Content Grouping based on tester feedback to create a simplified experience that has been unified with the familiar Channel Grouping interface. Content Grouping supports three methods for creating groups: 1) Tracking Code, 2) Rules, 3) Extraction. You can use a single method or a combination of all of them. 
This will help you wrangle those long lists of tens, hundreds or thousands of URLs, most of which have a tiny portion of the pageviews (or entrances, exits, etc) each one being individually not interesting, but together telling a meaningful story. We would like to help you grasp and represent this data in a grouped format, helping you understand the overall areas that the website owner has (e.g. “product pages”, “search pages”, “watch pages”).
Content Grouping lets you group content into a logical structure that reflects how you think about your site. You can view aggregated metrics by group name, and then drill in to individual URLs, page titles, or screen names. For example, you can see the aggregated number of pageviews for all pages in /Men/Shirts rather than for each URL or page title, and then drill in to see statistics for individual pages.

Watch the below video to learn more:

Be sure and visit our Help Center to learn how to get started with Content Grouping today.

Happy Analyzing!

Posted by Russell Ketchum, Google Analytics Team

Transparency Report: Government removal requests rise

Cross-posted with Official Google Blog

We launched the Transparency Report in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online. Today, for the eighth time, we’re releasing new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from our services. From January to June 2013, we received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content—a 68 percent increase over the second half of 2012.

Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims.

You can read more about these requests in the Notes section of the Transparency Report. In addition, we saw a significant increase in the number of requests we received from two countries in the first half of 2013:
  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Turkey. We received 1,673 requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from our platforms, nearly a tenfold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests—1,126 to be exact—called for the removal of 1,345 pieces of content related to alleged violations of law 5651.
  • Another place where we saw an increase was Russia, where there has been an uptick in requests since a blacklist law took effect last fall. We received 257 removal requests during this reporting period, which is more than double the number of requests we received throughout 2012.

While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world.