Europe is gearing up for a challenging winter - with rising prices and pressures on the European grid, driven by Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, further driving the need for secure, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy sources.
We know that energy security and affordability are top of mind for many across Europe right now. People are turning to Google to ask questions about conserving energy and managing their costs. In the UK, a year ago just one in ten searches on the topic of energy prices was a ‘why’, ‘how’ or ‘when’ question - now it’s one in four. In Germany, we’ve seen search interest trending for queries like ‘how to save natural gas’, ‘heating cost’ and how to save energy - while in Belgium, searches for ‘how to save on gas’ are up more than 5,000% since this time last year.
In times of uncertainty, people turn to Google for help and information. As people look for new ways to stay on top of their energy consumption and keep costs manageable, we’re launching a new feature in 29 countries and 22 languages across Europe to enable people to find relevant and actionable information to help them navigate this crisis and save energy.
Starting today, when people search for information on the energy landscape in Europe, they'll see dedicated features with helpful and reliable information. When you search for things like ‘Europe energy crisis’ and ‘energy price’, you'll see news articles, local information including financial assistance that may be available, and recommended actions from the International Energy Agency to help conserve energy.
Whether it’s turning down the heat or adjusting the settings of your boiler, you will be able to see, at a glance, information about saving energy in your home. These information panels will surface alongside other relevant results from the open web.
The launch of the energy crisis feature is a further addition to products and tools we have already launched in Europe to help people learn more about accessing energy affordably, reliably, and efficiently. For example, earlier this year we launched updates to Google Maps that help you find more fuel-efficient routes to reduce emissions and costs when you need to drive.
Technology can contribute to addressing the challenges facing Europe today. We remain committed to connecting people with timely, relevant, and actionable information when they need it most.
“The transformation of education begins with teachers” is the theme for World Teachers' Day 2022. For Ukraine’s teachers, who have had to transform the way they work and teach over the last seven months, these words take on an entirely different meaning.
Ukrainian teachers and children continue to be impacted by the war - whether they’re refugees abroad, displaced in their own country, or trapped in areas under fire. According to the authorities, 2,292 education institutions have been damaged and 309 destroyed since the Russian offensive began in February.
This has meant that two out of three children who were living in Ukraine at the beginning of this year have had their education disrupted, with some of these children out of education completely. Given the experiences of these children, and what they have witnessed, many are also traumatized. The classroom, whether virtual or otherwise, can help children to heal by being a place of security through which normality, curiosity and play can return.
Supporting Ukraine’s teachers
To support Ukrainian teachers to keep teaching, and students to keep learning, Google.org are providing UNESCO with €1.2M to train and equip 50,000 teachers in Ukraine with psychosocial skills to support the mental health of their students. This will help Ukrainian teachers with some critical tools they need to continue teaching – including into the longer term – in these challenging circumstances. This latest support builds on the over $40 million in cash donations and $5 million of in-kind support for humanitarian relief efforts provided by Google.org and Google employees.
Providing the tools
Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with organisations including the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science and UNESCO to provide Chromebooks to schools - helping teachers connect with their students, wherever they are now based.
Since then, for many teachers the challenges have escalated. This academic year started with more than 40% of Ukrainian schools giving classes online to increasing numbers of displaced and traumatized children.
To help teachers connect with their students, wherever they and their students are, we've increased our commitment to provide Chromebooks from 43,000 to 50,000. Thanks to our close collaboration with UNESCO and the Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science, these Chromebooks have started to arrive. They are currently being distributed to teachers in and around the Dnipro region, and will be provided throughout the country in the weeks ahead.
Of course, university and college students have been impacted by the war in Ukraine too - with many unable to attend their classes in person or in real-time. To help support them continue in their education, we’ve now given 250 universities and colleges six months’ free access to our premium Google Workspace for Education features. These features support higher education online learning, allowing universities to host meetings for up to 250 students and record them in Drive.
Providing the resources
To help Ukraine’s teachers adapt to giving lessons purely online, Google is working with local partners to deliver training in online tools, such as Google Workspace for Education, through a series of workshops and resources. We’ve recently increased our goal from 50,000 to 200,000 teachers trained by June 2023.
We’ll continue to search for ways we can partner with Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science, and those of bordering countries, to help those impacted by the war in Ukraine - including the millions of school and university students trying to access education in this trying and difficult time.
In February 2022, Vira taught Ukrainian language and literature at a local school and lived with her family in Kyiv. When the war started, Vira and her family had to leave their home in search of safety - first elsewhere in Ukraine, and then in Spain. Vira’s story is not unique - more than 7 million displaced people have left Ukraine since February 2022, according to the UNHCR.
Throughout the war, we’ve been committed to doing all we can to help. Through Google.org and our employees, we have committed over $40 million in cash donations, plus $5 million of in-kind support for humanitarian relief efforts, and three Google.org Fellowships. Across all our platforms, our teams have been working around the clock to support those affected, provide trustworthy information and promote cybersecurity.
Helping global refugees access critical information faster
For a person who has fled their home, access to information can be as important as water, food, medicine or shelter. It can save lives and livelihoods. But finding authoritative information and trusted services can be challenging and time-consuming.
Back in the summer of 2015, when thousands of refugees poured into the Greek islands in hope of refuge in Western Europe, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mercy Corps worked alongside Google engineers to provide new arrivals with a trustworthy source of critical information. The team realised that those who flee their homes in times of need often bought a smartphone with them as one of few personal items – so they created the Signpost Project: a global technology platform that aims to provide critical information services to people affected by crisis and conflict.
When the war in Ukraine started, the IRC partnered with the United for Ukraine Association to build out unitedforukraine.org, an information website and civil society effort. The latest instance of The Signpost Project, unitedforukraine.org spans a network of 400 legal experts and psychological support professionals from more than 30 countries, and provides displaced people with critical information and support to find housing, legal aid and psychological help.
To support this work, Google provided the IRC with a $1.5 million grant along with a team of 15 Google.org Fellows to work full time and pro-bono for six months on the project.
In the six months since the war in Ukraine started, United for Ukraine has reached more than 210,000 unique visitors and helped 10,000 people access free temporary housing in collaboration with airbnb.org. Among those 10,000 people is Vira. Having secured a job in Torrevieja, Spain, Vira urgently needed accommodation, but didn’t know anyone local or have a way to rent an apartment. She reached out to United for Ukraine, who immediately offered her three temporary housing options to choose from. Vira chose a cosy apartment two minutes walk from her new job.
Sundar Pichai meeting with NGOs supporting refugees at the Google Campus in Warsaw
Offering Google Career Certificates to Ukrainian people & businesses
As time passes, we see that the needs of those impacted by the war are changing – with more focus on education, upskilling and employment opportunities. To support Ukrainians whose jobs and livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing war, today we are launching Google Career Certificates in Ukraine. Google Career Certificates provide training focused on job-ready skills, and are designed to create a path to in-demand jobs in high paying sectors. By launching them in Ukrainian, we hope to support at-risk Ukrainians to develop practical skills, find new jobs and grow their businesses.
To reach those who have lost, or are at risk of losing, their jobs because of the war in Ukraine, Google.org has provided INCO – a global organisation that provides training and support – with more than €3 million in grant funding. This funding will enable INCO, in partnership with local NGO partners Prometheus, PRJCTR and VUM, to provide up to 5,000 people in Ukraine with access to Google Career Certificates at no cost, along with wrap-around support such as socio-psychological and work-readiness assistance.
In addition, to support small and medium Ukrainian businesses at this difficult time, Google is partnering with the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation and the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs to offer Google Career Certificates to 1,000 Ukrainian small and medium-sized organizations. We hope this will fuel future opportunities by allowing people to grow their skills, careers and businesses.
As Ukraine embarks upon the biggest recovery challenge in recent history, technology must help everyone, regardless of their location, age or education level. We hope that with these new efforts and the support of our public sector partners, even more people will be able to fuel this recovery.
Making our tools and technology as helpful as possible
Earlier this year, we were honoured to receive the first ever “Peace Prize” award introduced by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for our work to support those affected. Throughout the war, we’ve been trying to make our tools and technology as helpful as possible, including by:
- Providing trusted news and information
Across Google platforms, we’re elevating trusted news sources in response to searches about the war, including in Russia. Our breaking news and top news shelves on our YouTube homepage have been viewed more than 40 million times in Ukraine.
- Protecting users from harmful disinformation
Earlier this year, we committed an additional $10 million to fight misinformation, and since the war started, we’ve removed 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos on YouTube for violating our content policies – including those pertaining to misinformation, hate speech and graphic violence.
- Protecting cybersecurity in Ukraine and globally
We’ve increased account security protections for people in the region, and our Advanced Protection Programme – the highest form of account security we offer – is protecting hundreds of high-risk users on the ground in Ukraine against a wide variety of online threats. Project Shield, our free website protection service, is defending the sites of over 200 news and humanitarian organisations in Ukraine from online attacks. On top of this, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has been closely monitoring cyber security activity in Eastern Europe, providing regular updates and sharing information to help others detect and respond to activity.
- Providing humanitarian assistance and supporting the region more broadly
As part of our $45 million in cash donations and in-kind support from Google.org and Googlers, in Poland we’ve committed $10 million to local organisations helping refugees, and using Google’s spaces and resources to support those affected. In Ukraine, we’ve worked closely with the government to send rapid air raid alerts to Android mobile phones in endangered areas, and feature information on shelter and aid points in Search and Maps for local users. We also recently donated 43,000 Chromebooks to Ukrainian teachers to help them connect with their students – wherever they are now based.
We will continue to do all we can to help those impacted by the war in Ukraine, and to make sure our tools, technology and resources are as helpful as they can be during this time. We join the international community in expressing sincere hope for a return to a peaceful and sovereign Ukraine.
The following is adapted from a speech given by Matt Brittin, President, Google EMEA, at DMEXCOin Cologne.
Across the world, we’re seeing increased uncertainty. We’re living through a pandemic, seeing rising prices, a global energy crisis, increasing climate disasters and a horrific war in Ukraine. Access to quality information has never been more important — to help people search for answers, find ways to save money, make more sustainable choices and stay safe and informed.
But the web as we know it is at risk. People are more concerned than ever about their privacy online. Regulators across the world are demanding a more private internet — with some critics calling for a ban on personalised ads completely.
The future of the web depends on earning people’s trust — building responsible, private advertising to secure a sustainable internet that is safer for people, stronger for businesses and successful for publishers.
A grown-up attitude to responsibility
For generations, ads have funded our favourite content: from newspapers, magazines and entertainment to the web. Today 66% of the world is online. The ad-supported internet model has become a remarkable resource for humanity: putting an explosion of tools, information and content at our fingertips.
But nearly 40 years after its creation, the internet needs a grown-up attitude to responsibility.
As people manage more of their lives online, their concerns over how personal data is gathered, used and shared have increased. People want great online experiences — delivered with the privacy they deserve, by brands they can trust.
For advertisers, that presents a clear responsibility - but also an opportunity. And the good news is this: privacy safe ads are effective ads.
This year, we asked 20,000 Europeans about the consequences of good and bad privacy experiences. Our findings show that users view bad privacy experiences as almost as damaging as a theft of their data. It’s enough to make many of them switch to another brand entirely. And, because the impact of a negative privacy experience outweighs that of a positive one, it’s very difficult to recover from.
Instead, brands need to get it right the first time. People prefer to buy from brands that give them more control over their privacy — almost three quarters said they would prefer to buy from brands that are honest about what data they collect and why.
In times of uncertainty, companies may be tempted to put privacy on the backburner - but that would be a mistake. In tough times you need to invest for the future. Privacy is that investment.
A sustainable, private future for people, publishers and businesses
Making these changes won’t just lead to successful advertising — but a sustainable web.
Digital advertising needs to be safer for people. They need to feel protected online and able to trust what they view. It needs to be successful for publishers — funding quality journalism while giving us access to authoritative and diverse perspectives. And, it needs to be stronger for business — allowing businesses of all sizes the opportunity to grow and build a global customer base.
Across Europe, we’re investing in that vision. We’re one of the world’s biggest financial supporters of journalism, committing billions of dollars every year; we’re delivering authoritative information and creating privacy-first technology.
At our Google Safety Engineering Center in Munich, hundreds of engineers are creating tools and technology that combine two German traditions: exemplary engineering and rigorous privacy standards.
The privacy-first technology they’re creating is minimising the amount of data used, simplifying data downloads and deletion, and helping root out hijacked passwords — building on our shared values and breaking new ground in the global industry.
Today, as part of our commitment to that transition, we’re announcing two new tools.
The first is the Google Ads Privacy Hub, launching today with the rollout starting here in Germany. It will show you the latest on product innovations and how best-in-class marketers are doing it — helping you take the first steps on this journey, whatever your company size.
The second tool we’re launching focuses on users. Last year, 300 million people visited Ad Settings — choosing to make the ads they see more specific to them. So we’ll soon launch the new My Ad Center globally — expanding our existing Ad Settings to give people a single place where they can control the ads they see across Google Search, Discover and YouTube — seeing more of what they like, and less of what they don’t. Because the best ads are helpful, relevant and safe — benefiting the user, and responsible businesses too.
Matt Brittin speaking at DMEXCO conference
Building the web that people want and deserve
Moving to a world without third-party cookies means rethinking the tech on which much of the web advertising system is built and building new, privacy-first solutions.
We’re doing that through the Privacy Sandbox: sharing and testing new technologies with the industry, while staying on course to deprecate third party cookies by the end of 2024, in line with our commitments to the UK Competition Authority, which we are applying globally.
There are those that say that efforts like the Privacy Sandbox aren’t enough. Some say that we should ban personalised advertising altogether — that “contextual” advertising can fill the gap. But that won’t pay for the web everyone wants.
It has been estimated that if personalised advertising were to suddenly go away, as much as $32 to $39 billion would shift away from those who rely on open web technology — including publishers, at a time where authoritative information has never been more important.
There are others that say that all services should simply be paid for. But that turns the web into a luxury good — shutting billions out. It’s why Netflix, a pioneer of the modern subscription model, and others like Disney Plus and HBO, are introducing ads for users who want — or need — to pay less. Now, the advertising industry is a big tent. There is plenty of room for newcomers.
But recent events underscore how flawed these arguments really are - and unpopular to boot. Research by IAB Europe shows that 75% of Europeans would choose today’s experience of the internet over one without targeted ads, where they would need to pay for access to websites, content and apps.
So there should be no question as to whether the ads-supported internet model is important: only what kind of advertising industry we want to see. We want an advertising industry that makes room for businesses large and small; that supports value for publishers, media and journalism, and that protects people’s privacy from tracking.
A now or never moment
But it’s not just enough to want that future. We have to actually choose it. For online advertising, and the future of the internet, this is a now or never moment: without people’s trust, the future of the ad-supported web is at stake.
The next two years are critical. The industry must embrace the journey and invest in privacy. It has to build stronger relationships with customers, create better ad campaigns and navigate the uncertainty. If we do nothing, the web as we know it will be under threat.
Together, we can build an ad-supported web fit for the future — giving us better content, richer perspectives and further protection online.