Monthly Archives: November 2021

An update on our Privacy Sandbox commitments

For further background on this topic, please see our blog from June.

Since we announced our Privacy Sandbox commitments earlier this year, we have continued to work with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to address feedback that was raised as part of its public consultation process. We have also continued to update and seek feedback from the market and the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on our proposals.

We are determined to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox is developed in a way that works for the entire ecosystem and, as part of this process, we have now offered revised commitments, which can be found in full on the CMA’s website.

These revisions underline our commitment to ensuring that the changes we make in Chrome will apply in the same way to Google’s ad tech products as to any third party, and that the Privacy Sandbox APIs will be designed, developed and implemented with regulatory oversight and input from the CMA and the ICO. We also support the objectives set out yesterday in the ICO’s Opinion on Data protection and privacy expectations for online advertising proposals, including the importance of supporting and developing privacy-safe advertising tools that protect people’s privacy and prevent covert tracking.

The revised commitments incorporate a number of changes including:

  1. Monitoring and reporting. We have offered to appoint an independent Monitoring Trustee who will have the access and technical expertise needed to ensure compliance.
  2. Testing and consultation. We have offered the CMA more extensive testing commitments, along with a more transparent process to take market feedback on the Privacy Sandbox proposals.
  3. Further clarity on our use of data. We are underscoring our commitment not to use Google first-party personal data to track users for targeting and measurement of ads shown on non-Google websites. Our commitments would also restrict the use of Chrome browsing history and Analytics data to do this on Google or non-Google websites.

If the CMA accepts these commitments, we will apply them globally.

We continue to appreciate the thoughtful approach and engagement from the CMA and ICO as we develop our Privacy Sandbox proposals. We welcome, and will carefully consider, any comments that people provide during the consultation process.

A 2021 update on mobile indexing

We first started working on mobile-first indexing a number of years ago. Since then, we switched to indexing the majority of web pages with Googlebot-Smartphone. We've now determined that some sites are still not ready to be shifted over due to various, unexpected challenges. Because of this, we're now leaving the timeline open for the last steps of mobile-first indexing.

New EU political ads law is a step in the right direction

Having access to the right information matters. During a democratic election, it matters more than ever. High-quality information helps people make informed decisions when voting and counteracts abuse by bad actors. Through programs like security training for campaigns, information about polling places and transparency for political ads, Google is committed to helping support the integrity of democratic processes around the world.

Political advertising is an important component of democratic elections — candidates use ads to raise awareness, share information and engage potential voters. Over the last few years, Google has proactively increased transparency around election advertising: we updated our ads policies to require election advertisers to verify their identities and show who’s paying for an ad. We also introduced transparency reporting for online election ads in Europe as well as in the US and other countries around the world, providing a range of data that goes well beyond what’s typically available for TV, radio or print ads.

We have also made real changes to how election advertising works. In 2020, we implemented industry-leading restrictions to limit election ads’ audience targeting to age, gender and general location (at the postal code level), similar to categories candidates would use in deciding where to run ads on TV shows or in print. That same year, we started rolling out identity verification and disclosures for all advertisers, providing even wider transparency about ad sponsors. These improvements, and more, are part of a larger focus on political advertising that helped us navigate elections in the European Union, the United States, India (the largest democratic election in history) and other leading countries.

Google was one of the original signatories of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, which has led to constructive actions and change between the industry, policymakers and the expert community on the challenges of addressing disinformation. The Code laid out a model for voluntary action, facilitating work with policymakers on new transparency reporting on political advertising and helping users, governments and academics better understand how online election ads work.

We share the Commission's goal of increasing the harmonization of Europe’s transparency rules for political advertising and we support today’s introduction of legislation. As we expand our own efforts, we look forward to engaging with the Commission on how best to meet the goals laid out by the Democracy Action Plan and Digital Services Act. This is a complex field, requiring a balance between minimizing misinformation while protecting legitimate political expression. The Commission’s proposal is an important and welcome step and as the European Council and Parliament review it, we offer a few observations based on our experiences over recent election cycles.

  • Clear definitions for ‘political’ ads: It’s critical that the law clarifies which actors and what types of content are subject to the obligations regarding political advertising, giving clear examples of what would or would not be in scope. Without clear definitions, different companies will adopt inconsistent and conflicting policies, making for confusion for advertisers and undermining transparency for citizens. The current text could also inadvertently impact a wider range of ads than intended — for example, sweeping in ads from NGOs on issues of public concern or from private citizens speaking out about social questions.
  • Clear responsibilities for platforms and advertisers: Protecting elections is a shared responsibility and we all need to play our part to be more transparent. Advertisers are in the best position to validate their identity and best understand the nature and context of their ads. They play a critical role in providing accurate information and (as they do with other media like television) ensuring that their content complies with applicable laws. Advertiser “self-declaration” — whereby political advertisers verify their identities and declare when they are running political ads — would have advertisers due their share to contribute to transparency, making the law work better in practice.
  • Flexibility and dialogue: This is a dynamic and fast moving environment and we have seen a lot of changes to both political ads and governing regulations. Continuing discussions with stakeholders will help regulation react to changing contexts or emerging trends that might affect definitions, regulatory provisions or enforcement.

Elections are a fundamental part of democracy, and new regulations can help keep elections open, transparent and accountable. Legal certainty in those regulations will help candidates, campaigns, advertisers, publishers and platforms understand the precise scope of covered advertising and the specific obligations of each actor. In the coming months we look forward to sharing our experiences with the different institutions and bodies working to advance these important topics.

Beta Channel Promotion for Chrome OS

The Beta channel is being updated to 97.0.4692.27 (Platform version: 14324.19.0) for most Chrome OS devices.

If you find new issues, please let us know by visiting our forum or filing a bug. Interested in switching channels Find out how. You can submit feedback using ‘Report an issue...’ in the Chrome menu (3 vertical dots in the upper right corner of the browser). 

Daniel Gagnon,

Google Chrome OS 

PubCast Season 2: turning passions into profits

PubCast is a podcast featuring the stories of website creators and app developers who turned their passions into profit with help from Google. In our second season of the series, you’ll hear from small business founders across the globe sharing how they launched their digital businesses and navigated challenges like the pandemic. Using AdSense, Ad Manager and AdMob to earn ad revenue, these businesses create free content, tools and resources that contribute to a thriving, open internet.

You can listen to the miniseries on the [email protected] podcast channel — just look for PubCast in the episode title — or anywhere you find podcasts.

Check out our Season 2 episodes:

  1. Jessica Rovello | Building your favorite games and a thriving digital business: Jessica Rovello is the CEO and Co-Founder of Arkadium, a game development company that has built hundreds of games enjoyed on over 800 million devices worldwide. Arkadium has been voted one of Inc. Magazine's best places to work and takes an employee-centric approach to growth.
  2. Dennis Littley | Helping the world create restaurant-quality food at home: Chef Dennis Littley got his start as a classically trained chef, and kindled his passion for teaching by creating a culinary program at the high school he worked at. Now, Chef Dennis works full time on his food and travel site, Ask Chef Dennis, helping people create restaurant-quality meals at home.
  3. Christeen Skinner | Bringing astrology online and building an audience from zero: Christeen Skinner is the Director of City Scopes, an astrology-focused company founded in 1998 in London. The company has grown to offer a variety of resources, like astrology sites, training courses, books and more. Christeen now focuses her time on expanding into other areas, such as using astrology to try to predict financial outcomes.
  4. Paul Husbands | Amplifying Caribbean artists on the world stage: Paul Husbands is the CEO and Founder of Selecta Charts, a first-of-its-kind music streaming platform for Caribbean artists. Since its launch, Selecta Charts has drawn thousands of listeners and propelled hundreds of artists to new heights.
  5. Horatiu Boeriu | From zero to millions: How BMW Blog drove to journalistic success: Horatiu Boeriu is the CEO and Founder of BMW Blog, a Chicago-based website dedicated to automotive journalism with a focus on the BMW brand. Horatiu transformed his website from a passion project into a respected media outlet in the car industry, and has grown his audience to several million car enthusiasts.

Are you a digital business owner who uses AdSense, AdMob or Ad Manager, and want to be featured on PubCast? Fill out our feedback form, including your contact information and a few sentences about your business.

And if you’re interested in learning how to earn money from your site or app, check out how Google AdSense, AdMob and Ad Manager can help.

Improve your development workflow with Interactive Canvas DevTools

Posted by Nick Felker, Developer Relations Engineer

Interactive Canvas helps developers build multimodal apps for games, storytelling, and educational experiences on smart displays like the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Setting up an Interactive Canvas app involves building a web app, a conversational model, and a server-based fulfillment to respond to voice commands. All three of these components need to be built out to test your apps using the simulator in the Actions Console. This works for teams who are able to build all three at once… but it means that everything has to be hooked up, even if you just want to test out the web portion of your app. In many cases, the web app provides the bulk of the functionality of an Interactive Canvas app. We recently published Interactive Canvas DevTools, a new Chrome extension that helps unbundle this development process.

Interactive Canvas DevTool Extension

Using Interactive Canvas DevTools

After installing the Interactive Canvas DevTools from the Chrome Web Store, you’ll see a new Interactive Canvas tab when you Open Chrome DevTools.

When you load your web app in your browser, from a publicly hosted URL, localhost, or a remote device on your network, this tab lets you directly interface with the Interactive Canvas callbacks registered on the page to quickly and iteratively test your experience. Suggestion chips are created after every execution to let you replay the same command later.

To get started even faster, you can go to the Preferences tab and click the Import /SDK button. This will open a directory picker. You can select your project’s SDK folder. The extension will identify JSON payloads and TTS marks in your project and surface them as suggestion chips automatically.

JSON historical object changes

When the fields of the JSON object changed, you can view the changes in a colored diff.

Methods that send data to your webhook are instead rerouted to the History tab. This tab hosts a list of every text query and canvas state change in reverse chronological order. This allows you to view how changes in your web app would affect your conversational state. Each time the canvas state changes, you can see a visual representation of which fields changed.

Different levels of notice when using an operation unsupported in Interactive Canvas

Different levels of notice when using an operation unsupported in Interactive Canvas.

There are a number of other features that enhance the developer experience. For example, for browser methods that are not supported in Interactive Canvas, you can optionally log a warning or throw an error when you try to use them. This will make it easier to identify compatibility issues sooner and enforce these policies while debugging.

Nest Hub devices in the Device list

You are able to set the window to match the Nest Hub screen.

You can also add a header element onto your page that will help you optimize your layout for a smart display. Combined with the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max as new device presets in Chrome DevTools, you are able to set your development environment to be an accurate representation of how your Action will look and behave on a physical device.

Interactive Canvas tab on a remote device

You can also send data to your remote device.

This extension also works if you have a physical device. If it is on the same network, you can connect to your smart display and open up the Interactive Canvas tab on that remote device. From there, you are able to send commands using the same interface.

You can install the extension now through the Chrome Web Store. We’re also happy to announce that the DevTools are Open Source! The source code for this extension has been published on GitHub, where you can find instructions on how to set up the project locally, and how to submit pull requests.

Thanks for reading! To share your thoughts or questions, join us on Reddit at /r/GoogleAssistantDev.

Follow @ActionsOnGoogle on Twitter for more of our team's updates, and tweet using #AoGDevs to share what you’re working on. Can’t wait to see what you build!

How making lists became this entrepreneur’s brand

The day Saya Hillman got fired from her last full-time job in 2004, she made two lists. One was of all the things she wished she could get paid to do, no matter how ridiculous. The other was a list of names, ones that gave her a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, for the company she decided she would start. And so Mac & Cheese Productions℠ was born — and lists would become a big part of its success.

Saya had always made lists as a way to connect with people. She’d been sending emails to friends for a while, “really random lists of ‘here are things that I have found interesting,’” such as articles, tech gadgets and books. The feedback was great, and Saya realized it could be a great sales tactic for her new business. “I don’t have that used-car salesman, ‘buy me buy me’ feeling,” she says. “I’m just doing what I already love to do.’”

Today Mac & Cheese Productions℠ offers a wide range of resources, events and content designed to connect people and help them live aLife of Yes℠, a concept Saya created and defines as “making life easy and more fulfilling.” Her lists — which she sends out in newsletters and posts on her website — continue to serve as a gateway to attract more “Cheese-Its,” as she calls her followers.

While some lists are humorous and lighthearted, like Saya’s boyfriend criteria, she also offers practical ones — including her popularservice provider list. Even that one abides by Saya’s community-minded credo: She only includes providers who she has worked with directly or have been recommended by someone she knows and trusts.

Saya shared some tips on how lists can help attract attention to a website, and why they’re so integral to her brand.

A handwritten list divided into two columns, one labeled “More” with items like “I tried” and “Connection”; the other labeled “Less” with items like “Stasis” and “I failed.”

One of Saya’s lists captures her “Life of Yes℠” philosophy.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

“I don't think any of us are coming up with anything new — it's all how you put your own personal spin on the thing,” says Saya. So while her list concepts might not be a novel idea, her whimsical approach — where lists for home office equipment recommendations and her own pet peeves are on the same page — is.

Lists also help busy people make sense of an overwhelming amount of information. “People are hungry for curators,” she points out. “That’s why lists are so popular. They’re easy to share, they’re easy to consume.”

Lists also align with her overall ethos for Mac & Cheese Productions℠. “One of my favorite things is helping people to be more efficient and create systems,” she says. “The list format lends itself to be productive and efficient and good at time management.”

Be authentic — but it’s OK to make money too

Trustworthy referrals and recommendations have been a huge part of Saya’s success. “People know you’re doing it because you actually love the product or the person,” she says, explaining she has never received money from anyone that she’s put on her service provider list or other recommendation lists. Instead, it’s a “win-win” that spreads goodwill and website traffic all around, and can eventually result in opportunities and income, if not always directly or immediately.

That said, she’s unapologetic about taking a piece of the pie through affiliate marketing and her paid marketing services, as long as the products and services meet her requirements. “You just have to share that upfront,” she says.

Use lists to expand your network and draw visitors

Saya uses lists strategically to grow her network and draw more visitors to her site. “I’m spending all this time curating and creating for free, but to get that information, you need to go to my website, instead of me just giving you the information,” she points out.

Tying lists to holidays, seasons or other events can also forge connections and drive engagement. For example, while most of her lists are evergreen, Saya also offers an annual gift guide where she tags the businesses’ or individuals’ Instagram accounts — which helps expand her reach. “I’m always thinking, how can you make what you create easy to share?” she says.

Sportsnet invites fans to ‘Watch a Leafs Game with Steve Dangle’ through new interactive livestream on YouTube

YouTube has long been a popular destination for sports content. From game highlights to athlete interviews to sports news coverage, fans come to the platform to stay up-to-date on all the sports they know and love, and in Canada that sport is often hockey. Meanwhile, Sportsnet - the home of hockey in Canada - continues to innovate with their live hockey rights by delivering content to fans in new and unique ways across multiple platforms. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to share that YouTube and Sportsnet have teamed up to bring even more hockey action to Canadians. 

Throughout the 2021-2022 regular NHL season, hockey fans can now ‘Watch a Leafs Game with Steve Dangle’ every Saturday night on the Sportsnet YouTube channel. Viewers will also enjoy several only-on-YouTube features as part of the livestream, including the live chat feature and in-game polls, allowing fans to interact with the host and each other throughout the game. Fans who missed the livesteam will also be able to watch it back, any time on the Sportsnet YouTube channel. 

Renowned by hockey fans for his exuberant reaction videos, and fresh weekly video series’ like Hat-Picks, Dang-Its, and Trade Trees, Sportsnet’s Steve Dangle has built a dedicated, loyal community of followers on YouTube like few other sports content creators. The debut of ‘Watch a Game with Steve Dangle’ throughout the 2021 NHL Playoffs generated nearly 5 million views on YouTube. This season, Watch a Leafs Game with Steve Dangle will air 23 times throughout the regular season, during every Saturday night Leafs game on Hockey Night in Canada on Sportsnet. All livestreams begin at 7:00 p.m. eastern time. 

  • Saturday, Nov 20, Pittsburgh @ Toronto 
  • Saturday, Dec 4, Toronto @ Minnesota 
  • Saturday, Dec 11, Chicago @ Toronto 
  • Saturday, Dec 18, Toronto @ Vancouver
  • Saturday, Jan 1, Toronto @ Seattle 
  • Saturday, Jan 8, Toronto @ Colorado 
  • Saturday, Jan 15, Toronto @ St. Louis 
  • Saturday, Jan 22, NY Islanders @Toronto 
  • Saturday, Jan 29, Toronto @ Detroit 
  • Saturday, Feb 26, Detroit @ Toronto 
  • Saturday, Mar 5, Vancouver @ Toronto 
  • Saturday, Mar 19, Toronto @ Nashville 
  • Saturday, April 2, Toronto @ Montreal 
  • Saturday, April 9, Toronto @ Philadelphia 
  • Saturday, April 16, Montreal @ Toronto 
  • Saturday, April 22, Toronto @ Florida 


Designing a new local product for French urban readers

Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation:The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Pascal Brouet, EBRA COO and Local Pulse Project Director, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

When I took on the job of leading digital transformation for the French local daily newspaper group EBRA in 2018, print circulation was falling. The challenge for our future was revealed in our data — while circulation in the countryside was holding up, there was a sizable opportunity for expansion in metropolitan areas. And so our three-pronged internal project (at that time code-named “Local Pulse”) was conceived.

Working with Google

We applied for the Google News Initiative's DNI Fund, spelling out how we wanted to: (1) win back urban readers with a new editorial offering for each of the main cities covered by EBRA brands, (2) deliver that news through a mobile platform more attractive to urbanites and (3) ensure its sustainability with a subscriber-led business model.

The starting point for the work was a survey of more than 1,200 urban readers to get a better understanding of their consumption of local information, their main topics of interest, and most pressing concerns in their day-to-day life. We used their input and feedback to define an editorial mix and value proposition with some key principles:

  • Dedicated journalists on the project
  • A limited number of useful, essential and deeper-dive articles covering city life, without an information overload
  • A brand refresh and new style guide for the design and reading experience within a mobile app

Our editorial purpose required us to define a new revenue model mainly based on subscription and native advertising, breaking with the old advertising models which could only deliver results with mass audiences. Marketing this model — without any previous experience of this type of model — continues to be one of the biggest challenges for commercial teams and was exacerbated further by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also posed a challenge for our core editorial teams. During the beta phase in spring 2021, we did not completely succeed in delivering our editorial promise and value proposition. Over two weeks, we exposed our daily editorial mix to more than 200 beta-testers and as a result of the insights, refocused the editorial team on original local news rather than lifestyle content.

Launching ASAPP

In the Fall of 2021, after two years of work with the support of the DNI Fund, Local Pulse gave birth to ASAPP — a mobile app designed for younger, urban readers — and launched in Lyon and Strasbourg. The first results of ASAPP seem positive: 2,000 registered users and high engagement with an increased number of page views per visit (about 10 page views per visit),and high engagement rates with social communities (especially on Instagram, with 150,000 page views in the first month). Over the next three months, we will continue to improve user experience and specific benefits for subscribers before launching ASAPP in more metropolitan areas.

Beta Channel Update for Chrome OS

The Beta channel is being updated to 96.0.4664.57 (Platform version: 14268.43.0) for most Chrome OS devices.

If you find new issues, please let us know by visiting our forum or filing a bug. Interested in switching channels Find out how. You can submit feedback using ‘Report an issue...’ in the Chrome menu (3 vertical dots in the upper right corner of the browser). 

Daniel Gagnon,

Google Chrome OS