Monthly Archives: January 2015

A new look for the Google Apps Admin console

At Google I/O last June, we introduced material design, a single underlying design system that allows for a beautiful unified experience across platforms and device sizes. You’ve seen these design principles applied to many of Google’s products recently, and today we’re announcing that the Admin console is next in line.

The Admin console has been redesigned to better meet the needs of Google Apps admins, putting your most important controls front and center and making the most common tasks easier than ever to complete. 

To help you get acquainted with the new design, we’ve prepared a design change guide [pdf], featuring screenshots of the new navigational elements and guidance on how to change settings, manage and add users, apply filters and access other frequently used features in the new UI. We also pulled together before and after screenshots for context on how things will be changing. We suggest spending some time reviewing these guides to ensure you can hit the ground running with the new design.

Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release domains gradually, starting this week

For more information:



Note: all launches are applicable to all Google Apps editions unless otherwise noted

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YouTube now defaults to HTML5 <video>

Four years ago, we wrote about YouTube’s early support for the HTML5 <video> tag and how it performed compared to Flash. At the time, there were limitations that held it back from becoming our preferred platform for video delivery. Most critically, HTML5 lacked support for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) that lets us show you more videos with less buffering.

Over the last four years, we’ve worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 <video> by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox.

The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it's now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices. Here are a few key technologies that have enabled this critical step forward: 

MediaSource Extensions
Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming is critical for providing a quality video experience for viewers - allowing us to quickly and seamlessly adjust resolution and bitrate in the face of changing network conditions. ABR has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks. MediaSource Extensions also enable live streaming in game consoles like Xbox and PS4, on devices like Chromecast and in web browsers.

VP9 video codec
HTML5 lets you take advantage of the open VP9 codec, which gives you higher quality video resolution with an average bandwidth reduction of 35 percent. These smaller files allow more people to access 4K and HD at 60FPS -- and videos start 15-80 percent faster. We've already served hundreds of billions of VP9 videos, and you can look for more about VP9 in a future post.

Encrypted Media Extensions and Common Encryption
In the past, the choice of delivery platform (Flash, Silverlight, etc) and content protection technology (Access, PlayReady) were tightly linked, as content protection was deeply integrated into the delivery platform and even the file format. Encrypted Media Extensions separate the work of content protection from delivery, enabling content providers like YouTube to use a single HTML5 video player across a wide range of platforms. Combined with Common Encryption, we can support multiple content protection technologies on different platforms with a single set of assets, making YouTube play faster and smoother.

WebRTC
YouTube enables everyone to share their videos with the world, whether uploading pre-recorded videos or broadcasting live. WebRTC allows us to build on the same technology that enables plugin-free Google Hangouts to provide broadcasting tools from within the browser.

Fullscreen
Using the new fullscreen APIs in HTML5, YouTube is able to provide an immersive fullscreen viewing experience (perfect for those 4K videos), all with standard HTML UI.

Moving to <iframe> embeds
Given the progress we've made with HTML5 <video>, we’re now defaulting to the HTML5 player on the web. We're also deprecating the "old style" of Flash <object> embeds and our Flash API. We encourage all embedders to use the <iframe> API, which can intelligently use whichever technology the client supports.

These advancements have benefitted not just YouTube’s community, but the entire industry. Other content providers like Netflix and Vimeo, as well as companies like Microsoft and Apple have embraced HTML5 and been key contributors to its success. By providing an open standard platform, HTML5 has also enabled new classes of devices like Chromebooks and Chromecast. You can support HTML5 by using the <iframe> API everywhere you embed YouTube videos on the web. 

Richard Leider, Engineering Manager, recently watched, “Ex Hex - Waterfall.”

Google Fiber is coming to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham

It’s been nearly five years since we offered to build a fiber-optic network in one U.S. city as an experiment — and were met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Now, Google Fiber is live in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, and we've started to see how gigabit Internet, with speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, can transform cities. It can give them new platforms for economic development and new ways of using technology to improve life for their citizens. And, around the country, it seems to be catching on.

Check out the Kansas City Startup Village and Provo learn-how-to-code hub DevMountain. Take a look at the work of a geneticist whose speedy connection could one day help newborns in intensive care, or how one city's network is connecting a high school classroom to an underwater microscope so students can study oceanic life in the Pacific... from Chattanooga, Tenn. There are many more stories like this—stories about how people are using gigabit internet to spark innovation, inspire creativity, and collaborate in ways they simply couldn't before. And we want to see even more.

So, today, we’re happy to announce that Google Fiber is coming to 18 cities across four new metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. We can’t wait to see what people and businesses across the Southeast U.S. do with gigabit speeds.


Bringing Google Fiber to these cities is a long-term investment. We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins. Our next step is to work with cities to create a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit, and making sure to avoid things like gas and water lines. Then a team of surveyors and engineers will hit the streets to fill in missing details. Once we’re done designing the network (which we expect to wrap up in a few months), we’ll start construction.


We’re also continuing to explore bringing fiber to five additional metro areas—Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose, and will have updates on these potential Fiber cities later this year.

Today, we aren't the only ones talking about gigabit broadband. From the White House to main street, a chorus of new voices is standing up for speed. Just last week during the State of the Union, the President called for faster networks so that innovators and entrepreneurs can build the next big idea. New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth. Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we’re going to keep doing our part to help.

Introducing Trash Can: Data Recovery in Google Analytics

We all make mistakes, but the damage might seem irrevocable when accidentally deleting crucial reporting information from Google Analytics. Thanks to feedback from our users, we’re pleased to introduce a new feature to provide a safety net each time you delete a view, property or account from your Google Analytics account: the Trash Can.

To get started, navigate to the Administration tab, select an account, and click the Trash Can feature on the left-hand panel. Check off what you want to reclaim, click “Restore,” and voilà! Your view, property or account is now just as it was before you deleted it. Once 35 days pass from the day you originally trashed it, however, you’ll have to say a final goodbye as the data will be removed from the Trash Can and will no longer appear there. 


This feature will be rolling out to all Google Analytics accounts in the coming weeks, but don’t worry–anything you’ve deleted starting today will still show up in the Trash Can once you get the feature update in your account. 

Many people rely on Google Analytics to collect, analyze, and report on data in order to make good business decisions. We hope that the Trash Can is just one more way to ensure that you have all the information you need when you need it. To learn more details about the Trash Can feature, please read this Help Center article.

Posted by Chris Cahill, Michael Masukawa, and Dan Morenus

Android Wear & QR Code: Putting Users through the Fast Track

Posted by Hoi Lam, Developer Advocate

Rushing onto a train, entering a concert, or simply ordering a coffee, we have all seen users (or ourselves) rummaging through their wallets or mobile app trying to get the right boarding pass, ticket or loyalty card. With Android Wear and a few lines of code in your mobile app, this can all work like magic.

What’s new in the Android Support Library

While QR Code images could be attached to a notification since the first release of the Android Wear platform, developers have asked about two situations which they would like to see improve:

  1. With circular displays, it is hard for developer to know if the QR code is displayed in it’s entirety and not cropped.
  2. To conserve battery, Android Wear switches off the screen after five seconds of inactivity. However, this makes it hard for the user to ensure that the QR code is still displayed on their wrist when they reach the front of the queue.

With the latest support library, we have added two additional methods to WearableExtender to give developers more control over how background images are displayed in notifications. These new APIs can be used in a number of scenarios, we will focus on the QR code use case in this post:

  • Ensure the image is not cropped - setHintAvoidBackgroundClipping(true)
  • With this new method, developers can ensure that the entire QR code is always visible.
    Wrong:
    setHintAvoidBackgroundClipping (false)
    // this is the Default
    Right:
    setHintAvoidBackgroundClipping (true)
  • Ensure the QR code is still displayed when the user gets to the front of the queue - setHintScreenTimeout(timeInMS)
  • This new method enables developers to set a timeout that makes sense for their specific use case.

Design Best Practices

We have experimented with a number of customization options with QR codes and here are some of the lessons learnt:

Dos

  • Do test with your equipment - Before deploying, test with your QR code readers to ensure that the QR code displayed on the wearable works with your equipment.
  • Do use black and white QR codes - This ensures maximum contrasts and makes it easier for the reader to read the information.
  • Do display only the core information in the text notification - Remember that less is more. Glanceability is important for wearables.
  • Do test with both round and square watches - The amount of text can be displayed on the notification varies especially dependent on the form factor (square and circular).
  • Do brand with icon - On the main notification in the Android Wear stream, developers can set a full color icon using setLargeIcon to brand your notification.
  • Do convey additional information using background - To achieve an even better result, consider setting context sensitive backgrounds through setBackground, such as a photo of the destination for the train or a picture of the stadium.
  • Do use QR codes which are 400x400 pixels or larger - In line with other background images, the recommended minimum size for QR code is 400x400 pixels.

Don'ts

  • Do not brand the QR code - The screen real estate is limited on Android Wear and using some of this for branding may result in the QR code not working correctly.
  • Do not use anything other than grey or default theme color for notification text - Although Android Wear notifications support basic text formatting such as setting text color, this should be used in moderation with the color set to default or grey. The reason is that the Holo theme for Android 4.x has a default background of black whereas Material Design theme for Android 5+ including Android Wear has a white background. This makes it hard for the colour to work for both themes. Bold and Italic are fine formatting choices.

Android Wear is for people on the move

Using QR codes on Android Wear is a very delightful experience. The information that the user needs is right on their wrist at the right time in the right place. With the new APIs, you can now unlock more doors than ever before and give users an easier time with check in on the go.

Sample code can be downloaded from this repository.

Join the discussion on

+Android Developers

Remembering 70 years since Auschwitz’s liberation

It was the end of one of the worst chapters in human history - the Soviet Army’s liberation 70 years ago of the notorious Nazi death camp Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. Today, starting at 15:30 CET, the Auschwitz Museum is live streaming on YouTube the ceremony marking the liberation, held in front of the Death Gate, together with survivors of the camp:

Throughout the world, various anniversary ceremonies, conferences, exhibitions and meetings are scheduled. The Auschwitz Museum and the United Nations have built a Map of Remembrance with the goal to bring together the various memorial activities taking place.

For the past three years, the Google Cultural Institute has been working with institutions and associations to preserve and share online thousands of archives, images and videos telling the stories from the Holocaust. The Auschwitz Museum participated in this project from the beginning, adding hundreds of documents and inviting you to discover individual stories like the love of Edek Galinski and Mala Zimetbaum or the unique collection of family photographs found in the ruins of the camp. Learn more on the “Evacuation and Liberation of the Auschwitz camp" and the “Sonderkommando" through these new online exhibitions.

For this anniversary, the USC Shoah Foundation, who shared with the world poignant testimonials of survivors through another exhibition, “70 Stories of Auschwitz”, inviting you to listen to the survivors as they recall their experiences in short and moving personal videos. Famed filmmaker Steven Spielberg assembled them into this moving film.

We encourage everyone to (re)discover these stories from the Holocaust - and remember, never again.

Blast from the past: reprint request postcards

Recently, I spent a few days organizing my uncle's papers. He was a graduate student in the 60s and a faculty member for the rest of his life. Going over his papers was like walking through the history of scholarly communication. One of the fascinating things I found were pre-printed postcards for requesting article reprints.

Each institution printed these postcards for its researchers. They included the institution address and a template request. To request a reprint, you would fill in the address of the author and some information about the paper you were interested in and drop it in mail. And hope for a response in six to ten weeks. Here are a couple of requests that my uncle received.





Much has changed since those days. Journal archives have moved online and email zips across the world in seconds. It is hard to imagine today how researchers of the day moved the mountains that they did.

Posted by: Anurag Acharya, Software Engineer

Retailers: Three Insights to Drive Q1 Results

Now that we’ve survived the holiday season, it’s time to get the year started with some Q1 insights from Google Analytics!  Over the holiday season, retailers are inundated with data about the best shopping days, when to start their sales, and predictions about which items will be popular.  But what to do once the furor dies down?  How can retailers make the most of Q1?  

Here at Google Analytics, we delved into our Q1 data from 2013 and 2014 in the US to provide some insights to guide you in the first quarter of 2015.  In particular, the weeks around Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl provided some notable trends.  Our analysis encompasses millions of businesses large and small who are using Google Analytics.  See the end of this article for more about our dataset.

The Day of the Big Game:  A Low Point for Online Shopping
We took a look at the first big marketing event of Q1:  Super Bowl Sunday.  The day of the big game, we saw lower numbers across the board.  Sessions were down 11% compared to the average for the quarter.  Similarly, transactions and conversion rates were down on average 16% and 5% respectively.  In both 2013 and 2014, the sessions and transaction numbers for the day of the Super Bowl fall into the bottom quartile for the quarter.

Clearly, on the day of the game, online purchasing is not a priority.  However, as we see later on in this post, this period of time serves as the turning point for transactions and conversion rates in the quarter.  The brand advertising that is such a big part of Super Bowl Sunday may help businesses capitalize on increased consumer buying behavior later in the quarter.

Best Romantic Shopping Day:  The Sunday before Valentine’s Day
We also delved into the second big marketing event of Q1:  Valentine’s Day.  In particular, we evaluated the week preceding the big day to find any pre-holiday patterns.  It turns out that in both 2013 and 2014, the Sunday before Valentine’s Day sees the biggest spike in week-over-week transactions with an average bump of 10%.  The same holds true for conversion rates and sessions, with an average increase of 6% and 4% respectively.  Besides a week-over-week increase, we also see that transactions are 5% higher on that day than for the average Sunday in the quarter.  The bump in transactions could indicate that consumers are using that Sunday to find and purchase their gifts, making it a good opportunity to invest in getting consumers to your site for some Valentine’s Day shopping.  If you plan to invest in advertising for this holiday, one way to prepare for Valentine’s Day is to adjust your bids.

Between the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day:  The Q1 Turning Point
Unless you’re lucky enough to sell items for diet, exercise, or other big new year’s resolutions, retailers often see sales slow in Q1 as consumers reduce gift-buying.  The chart below shows that for most of January, transactions are indeed below the average for the quarter.  

When should retailers spend marketing dollars to bounce back from this holiday hangover?  We see that transactions in both 2013 and 2014 start to ramp up as the key marketing dates approach: Valentine’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday.  In particular, the week of February 5th (also known as the week after the Super Bowl and the week before Valentine’s Day) marks the first time that transactions hit the average or above for the quarter.  

The graph below shows that in 2013 the week after the Super Bowl was above the average, whereas in 2014 that week was at the quarterly average.  In both years, this week has the highest week over week growth in transactions and conversions rates for Q1 at 6% for both metrics.  Sessions, however, display only a 0.4% increase week-over-week, not even close to being the highest for the quarter.  Based on this information about sessions, it’s clear that the uptick in buying behavior is not simply a function of consumers spending more time online, it’s an indication of increased intent to purchase during the time they do spend online.  If we look at average conversion rates before that week compared to the average conversion rates for that week and the rest of the quarter, we see a 6% increase.


So, as you plan your budgets, promotions, and campaigns in Q1, keep in mind that consumer activity will tend to increase throughout the quarter.  In particular, transactions tend to get a big bump during the week between Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day.  We know it’s hard to get back in gear after the holidays, but we hope our insights will help you think clearly and creatively about your marketing plans in the first quarter.

About the Data & Charts 
In order to perform this analysis, we looked at billions of sessions from authorized Google Analytics clients who have shared their website data anonymously (read more).



New features in AdWords scripts

We have added the following new features in AdWords scripts.

Bidding

You can now manage bids for your campaigns, ad groups and criteria in AdWords scripts. Support is also provided to retrieve and update shared bidding strategies in your account. The current release allows you to use MANUAL_CPC, MANUAL_CPM, BUDGET_OPTIMIZER or CONVERSION_OPTIMIZER as bidding strategies; and set CPC, CPM or CPA bids to your biddable entities. See our guide and code snippets to learn more about this feature.

Display criteria

You can now manage the following display criteria through AdWords scripts: keywords, placements, topics, audiences. Check out our code snippets for usage examples.

New ad extensions

You can now manage review and callout extensions for your campaigns and ad groups in AdWords scripts.

If you have questions or feedback about these features, let us know on our forum.

Targeting views with DoubleClick

With over half of ads measured not viewed, it’s more important than ever for advertisers to be able to act on viewability measurement. That’s why we’re happy to roll out new product updates we announced at CES, that make viewability more actionable for advertisers using the DoubleClick platform.

As we heard from Neal Mohan earlier this month, “when it comes to impact, having your ad seen is not just important, it’s fundamental.” It’s why we’re investing heavily to help make viewability a common currency across the industry. Over the last year, we’ve enabled advertisers to buy only viewable impressions across the Google Display Network, built Active View viewability reporting into our DoubleClick platforms for display and video, and today we’re building on this even further with two launches that will help advertisers act on these viewability metrics. 

  • Viewability targeting in Doubleclick Bid Manager. Clients of DoubleClick Bid Manager can now measure and target impressions globally based on the historical viewability of an impression. By programmatically targeting viewable impressions, marketers are able to improve the performance of their campaigns, in real-time, eliminating the need to manually reallocate spend to find viewable impressions. 
  • Viewability data in DoubleClick Ad Exchange bid requests. Ad Exchange clients can now see the historical viewability percentage for every impression when available. With this signal, programmatic buyers can make smarter decisions about the value of impressions before they place their bids on Ad Exchange.

Viewability reporting has given marketers the data to understand how many of their ads were seen. Now they can use that same data to programmatically increase the viewability of their campaigns. For brands like TalkTalk Telecom Group, using viewability targeting on DoubleClick Bid Manager has driven strong results.

TalkTalk generates 94% more viewable impressions
TalkTalk Telecom Group, a leading TV, broadband, mobile, and phone provider in the U.K., was eager to boost the viewability of its ads while maintaining costs. Having already implemented programmatic buying to reach potential customers at the exact moment they're ready to commit, TalkTalk wanted to then ensure its ads were actually being seen by targeting viewable impressions. To do so, the company deployed DoubleClick Bid Manager with Active View. TalkTalk generated 94% more viewable impressions, increased CTR 133%, and lowered CPC by 40%.


"Being able to target by viewability with Active View is groundbreaking. Active View enables us to measure the viewability of our ads, and Bid Manager's viewability targeting feature provides us with a solution to increase the number of viewable impressions we buy." - Rich Bailey, online marketing manager, TalkTalk Telecom Group.

To learn more about the team’s approach and results, check out the full case study here.

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Posted by the DoubleClick Product Marketing team