Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

Bringing more opportunity to women founders and startups in Canada

Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders is open for applications. Ten to twelve North American startups will be selected for an intensive three-month bootcamp to give founders the tools to prepare for the next phase of growth.


In February this year, we launched the Google for Startups Accelerator Canada, our first accelerator in the country giving selected startups access to the best of Google’s, products, people, and technology, with the goal of helping founders, and their teams, build great products and services. We were overwhelmed with the positive response from Canadian founders, and saw an opportunity to offer more programming to the ecosystem.

Building on this momentum, we’re excited to launch the first Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders. This accelerator will be open to both Canadian and US startups, helping them identify and solve for specific challenges with the support of experts, both from Google and the wider technology industry. To better support women founders we’ve made a conscious effort to include more women leaders, from Google and the community, to deliver workshops, talks and 1:1 mentoring sessions. Women founders who become program alumni will be invited to join our global Google for Startups Women community – a peer-led community of women entrepreneurs from around the world.

In addition to mentorship and technical project support, the Accelerator also includes deep dives and workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development for founders. We know that women founders can face unique challenges, so we’re working closely with our product inclusion team to ensure that relevant programming is offered to the women founders community.

This new accelerator will complement various programs we have across the globe to support diverse groups of founders. One example is our Google for Startups Residency program in London- a 12-week program to support women founded companies through their journey, and help accelerate their growth. The program is now in its fifth rotation, and founders are tackling major challenges across many different industries including education, health, cyber security, and more. Earlier this month we also announced a Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders in the US, which we hope will provide additional support to Black Founders looking for ways to scale their companies.

By doubling down on our support for the ecosystem and our partners, and introducing new accelerator programs like this one, we hope to create more opportunities for startups to scale at home, and continue to bridge the gap between men and women in the startup ecosystem.


Applications for the Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders are open until July 22. For more information and to apply, visit g.co/womenfoundersaccelerator.

Bringing more opportunity to women founders and startups in Canada

Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders is open for applications. Ten to twelve North American startups will be selected for an intensive three-month bootcamp to give founders the tools to prepare for the next phase of growth.


In February this year, we launched the Google for Startups Accelerator Canada, our first accelerator in the country giving selected startups access to the best of Google’s, products, people, and technology, with the goal of helping founders, and their teams, build great products and services. We were overwhelmed with the positive response from Canadian founders, and saw an opportunity to offer more programming to the ecosystem.

Building on this momentum, we’re excited to launch the first Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders. This accelerator will be open to both Canadian and US startups, helping them identify and solve for specific challenges with the support of experts, both from Google and the wider technology industry. To better support women founders we’ve made a conscious effort to include more women leaders, from Google and the community, to deliver workshops, talks and 1:1 mentoring sessions. Women founders who become program alumni will be invited to join our global Google for Startups Women community – a peer-led community of women entrepreneurs from around the world.

In addition to mentorship and technical project support, the Accelerator also includes deep dives and workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development for founders. We know that women founders can face unique challenges, so we’re working closely with our product inclusion team to ensure that relevant programming is offered to the women founders community.

This new accelerator will complement various programs we have across the globe to support diverse groups of founders. One example is our Google for Startups Residency program in London- a 12-week program to support women founded companies through their journey, and help accelerate their growth. The program is now in its fifth rotation, and founders are tackling major challenges across many different industries including education, health, cyber security, and more. Earlier this month we also announced a Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders in the US, which we hope will provide additional support to Black Founders looking for ways to scale their companies.

By doubling down on our support for the ecosystem and our partners, and introducing new accelerator programs like this one, we hope to create more opportunities for startups to scale at home, and continue to bridge the gap between men and women in the startup ecosystem.


Applications for the Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders are open until July 22. For more information and to apply, visit g.co/womenfoundersaccelerator.

Introducing Grow with Google: Retail Recovery



Retailers across Canada are facing unprecedented challenges. The sudden and indefinite closure of brick and mortar stores has led to tough decisions around reopening, fluctuating supply chains, and how best to protect employees. It has also led to the digital advancement of one of Canada’s most important sectors, as retailers quickly sought to build out their online presence and advance their digital offerings.


Understanding the changing landscape of retail in Canada is key for businesses as they look to the future. That’s why Google Canada, in partnership with the Retail Council of Canada, is excited to announce Grow with Google: Retail Recovery, a six-month virtual education series to share insights, tools, products and case studies to help accelerate the digital readiness of retailers as they plan for the road ahead. The goal of this series is to build a retail ecosystem where consumers can find the products they need from anywhere, regardless of whether they’re sold at their neighbourhood hardware store, or on their favourite brand’s website or app. 


Launching July 7, this series is available to retailers of all sizes and will cover a variety of helpful topics including the importance of having a digital presence, consumer attitudes towards back to school, holiday shopping best practices, and more. 


Register here for our first session ‘Managing your storefront as needs evolve,’ where Google experts will share tips on how retailers can evolve their business in a rapidly changing environment. Other topics covered include how retailers can meet customer needs by updating their business information, adapting their ads strategy and using digital signals to understand store traffic. 


Grow with Google: Retail Recovery is the latest initiative in Google Canada’s continued effort to support the economic recovery of businesses across the country. 


“It is critical that retailers of all sizes across Canada have the resources and training needed to build out their online presence. We are proud to partner with Google Canada for the Retail Recovery education series, to help retailers get through this difficult time.” - Diane Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada 

How Loblaw turns to technology to support Canadians during COVID-19

Editors note: This blog was initially posted on the Google Cloud blog.



The impact of COVID-19—and the shift in how we work, live, and shop—has tested every industry, and retailers in the grocery space are no exception. While hospitals and local governments have crisis plans for scenarios like what we are experiencing, few grocery store operators had fully contemplated implications of a global pandemic. 


While traditional grocers have seen new, online, digital-native competitors enter the market before COVID-19, a majority of consumers still relied on physical grocery stores to purchase their household essentials. For these traditional grocers, online grocery sales were minimal compared to brick-and-mortar sales, causing many to focus their IT attention on in-store experiences. However, due to the pandemic, consumers’ online grocery spend increased from 1.5% to 9% on average in Canada alone. 


The drastic and immediate shift to online has created immense strain on grocers—from employee and community safety issues, to handling surges in online traffic that can crash websites, to struggling with inventory and order fulfilment. Some have weathered this new reality better than others, thanks to a variety of technologies that improve efficiency and help keep employees and customers safe. 


Meeting unprecedented online demand 

Loblaw is a great example of a grocer using technology to support its community and protect its employees, while also growing its business. A 100-year-old company, Loblaw is the largest grocery and retail pharmacy chain in Canada, with approximately 200,000 employees and more than 18 million shoppers active in its loyalty program. 


When COVID-19 first hit North America, Loblaw was one of a few grocery chains in Canada offering the ability to order online and pick up groceries the same day. As more shoppers moved their shopping to online, the company shifted quickly to meet the rising demand. 


As online traffic and order volumes reached unprecedented levels, the performance of Loblaw’s online grocery websites was starting to strain under the load. Google Cloud then activated its BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) protocols, including a dedicated war room with Loblaw Digital’s Technology team where engineers from both companies worked side-by-side to quickly adjust the Loblaw platform and ensure an uninterrupted experience for shoppers. 


Together, Loblaw Digital and Google Cloud quickly stabilized and settled into a level of online traffic that seems now to be the new normal. According to Hesham Fahmy, VP of Technology at Loblaw Digital, “Loblaw’s systems are operating at a scale comparable to other large global e-commerce retailers.”


Automating fulfilment with Takeoff 

While Google was working to scale Loblaw’s e-commerce system, the grocer was also searching for new ways to improve the fulfilment process and keep up with order volume. The Loblaw Digital PC Express team took several steps to reduce the bottleneck, such as hiring thousands of new personal shoppers, adding thousands of slots for pickup every week, along with the introduction of new technology to increase capacity across the country. 


Fortunately, Loblaw was in the process of rolling out its first Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC) with Google Cloud partner Takeoff Technologies. Takeoff’s MFC is essentially a small-scale automation and fulfillment solution placed within an existing storefront in a space that could be as small as two or three grocery aisles. The MFC uses a robotic racking system and cloud and AI technology, powered by Google Cloud, to store, pack, and fulfill orders. The efficiency of automation helps to drastically reduce what’s known as “last mile” costs, by keeping products as close to the customer as possible. 


While the MFC implementation had been in progress for nearly a year, its completion couldn’t come at a better time. The new technology, opens-up additional availability for orders and has the capacity to support order volume for multiple PC Express locations in close proximity. 


To get the MFC up-and-running ahead of schedule, Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff dispatched employees to Canada armed with webcams and Google Meet, Google's premium video conferencing solution, to handle the last steps of go-live. This process would normally take 12+ employees, but Takeoff only needed to send two. After two weeks of self-quarantine in Canada, the employees collaborated with their team back at home via Google Meet to ensure an effective rollout. With the MFC in place, colleagues are able to pick and pack items faster than they could manually. 


As José V. Aguerrevere and Max Pedró, co-founders of Takeoff, put it: “It’s a great example of how automation can help support employee workloads to alleviate a time-consuming and costly process. This type of hyperlocal automation will help local firms not only survive, but thrive. In the long-run it also has the potential to lower food prices, decrease the footprint of stores, and feed data back to suppliers to reduce food and packaging waste, which could eventually help our planet.” 


Takeoff’s Chief Technology Officer, Zach LaValley, elaborated: “Google has allowed us to shine, particularly in our recent launch with Loblaw; from their solution architecture partnership during the implementation phase, to the stability and reliability of their cloud platform, to the ease of using Google Meet to remotely launch a new site. We have an ambitious mission to transform the grocery industry, and our services have never been more vital. Google provides the reliability, scalability, and global perspective we need in order to provide the top-tier service our retail partners deserve and need at this time.” 


Loblaw is Takeoff’s first Canadian facility to go-live; its technology, built on Google Cloud’s scalable platform, is expected to be live in 53 retail chains across the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East by the end of 2020. 


Building on a Google Cloud foundation 

The technology groundwork laid by Loblaw Digital has enabled them to quickly respond to sudden shifts in shopping dynamics. For the last two years, Google Cloud and Loblaw Digital have been working hand-in-hand on a broader digital roadmap that started with PC Express and expanded to include a new marketplace for pet supplies, toys, baby essentials, home decor, and other items that aren’t available in brick-and-mortar stores. 


Along the way, Loblaw Digital has gotten more efficient at building new online platforms using Google Cloud as the foundation. PC Express was completed in less than six months, while Loblaw’s new marketplace was up-and-running in just weeks. The teams are now consolidating multiple data sources in Google Cloud, which will give them the ability to look across their data and find new ways to serve customers. 


“In the matter of days, our online traffic spiked four-fold,” said Vice President, Online Grocery, Sharon Lansing. “During this time, it was critical that our teams were able to find ways to better serve our customers and ensure that we were able to deliver that service quickly.” 


Loblaw’s foresight and investments in technology enabled the company to react and adapt quickly to COVID-19. To learn more, read the Loblaw case study. 

How Loblaw turns to technology to support Canadians during COVID-19

Editors note: This blog was initially posted on the Google Cloud blog.



The impact of COVID-19—and the shift in how we work, live, and shop—has tested every industry, and retailers in the grocery space are no exception. While hospitals and local governments have crisis plans for scenarios like what we are experiencing, few grocery store operators had fully contemplated implications of a global pandemic. 


While traditional grocers have seen new, online, digital-native competitors enter the market before COVID-19, a majority of consumers still relied on physical grocery stores to purchase their household essentials. For these traditional grocers, online grocery sales were minimal compared to brick-and-mortar sales, causing many to focus their IT attention on in-store experiences. However, due to the pandemic, consumers’ online grocery spend increased from 1.5% to 9% on average in Canada alone. 


The drastic and immediate shift to online has created immense strain on grocers—from employee and community safety issues, to handling surges in online traffic that can crash websites, to struggling with inventory and order fulfilment. Some have weathered this new reality better than others, thanks to a variety of technologies that improve efficiency and help keep employees and customers safe. 


Meeting unprecedented online demand 

Loblaw is a great example of a grocer using technology to support its community and protect its employees, while also growing its business. A 100-year-old company, Loblaw is the largest grocery and retail pharmacy chain in Canada, with approximately 200,000 employees and more than 18 million shoppers active in its loyalty program. 


When COVID-19 first hit North America, Loblaw was one of a few grocery chains in Canada offering the ability to order online and pick up groceries the same day. As more shoppers moved their shopping to online, the company shifted quickly to meet the rising demand. 


As online traffic and order volumes reached unprecedented levels, the performance of Loblaw’s online grocery websites was starting to strain under the load. Google Cloud then activated its BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) protocols, including a dedicated war room with Loblaw Digital’s Technology team where engineers from both companies worked side-by-side to quickly adjust the Loblaw platform and ensure an uninterrupted experience for shoppers. 


Together, Loblaw Digital and Google Cloud quickly stabilized and settled into a level of online traffic that seems now to be the new normal. According to Hesham Fahmy, VP of Technology at Loblaw Digital, “Loblaw’s systems are operating at a scale comparable to other large global e-commerce retailers.”


Automating fulfilment with Takeoff 

While Google was working to scale Loblaw’s e-commerce system, the grocer was also searching for new ways to improve the fulfilment process and keep up with order volume. The Loblaw Digital PC Express team took several steps to reduce the bottleneck, such as hiring thousands of new personal shoppers, adding thousands of slots for pickup every week, along with the introduction of new technology to increase capacity across the country. 


Fortunately, Loblaw was in the process of rolling out its first Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC) with Google Cloud partner Takeoff Technologies. Takeoff’s MFC is essentially a small-scale automation and fulfillment solution placed within an existing storefront in a space that could be as small as two or three grocery aisles. The MFC uses a robotic racking system and cloud and AI technology, powered by Google Cloud, to store, pack, and fulfill orders. The efficiency of automation helps to drastically reduce what’s known as “last mile” costs, by keeping products as close to the customer as possible. 


While the MFC implementation had been in progress for nearly a year, its completion couldn’t come at a better time. The new technology, opens-up additional availability for orders and has the capacity to support order volume for multiple PC Express locations in close proximity. 


To get the MFC up-and-running ahead of schedule, Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff dispatched employees to Canada armed with webcams and Google Meet, Google's premium video conferencing solution, to handle the last steps of go-live. This process would normally take 12+ employees, but Takeoff only needed to send two. After two weeks of self-quarantine in Canada, the employees collaborated with their team back at home via Google Meet to ensure an effective rollout. With the MFC in place, colleagues are able to pick and pack items faster than they could manually. 


As José V. Aguerrevere and Max Pedró, co-founders of Takeoff, put it: “It’s a great example of how automation can help support employee workloads to alleviate a time-consuming and costly process. This type of hyperlocal automation will help local firms not only survive, but thrive. In the long-run it also has the potential to lower food prices, decrease the footprint of stores, and feed data back to suppliers to reduce food and packaging waste, which could eventually help our planet.” 


Takeoff’s Chief Technology Officer, Zach LaValley, elaborated: “Google has allowed us to shine, particularly in our recent launch with Loblaw; from their solution architecture partnership during the implementation phase, to the stability and reliability of their cloud platform, to the ease of using Google Meet to remotely launch a new site. We have an ambitious mission to transform the grocery industry, and our services have never been more vital. Google provides the reliability, scalability, and global perspective we need in order to provide the top-tier service our retail partners deserve and need at this time.” 


Loblaw is Takeoff’s first Canadian facility to go-live; its technology, built on Google Cloud’s scalable platform, is expected to be live in 53 retail chains across the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East by the end of 2020. 


Building on a Google Cloud foundation 

The technology groundwork laid by Loblaw Digital has enabled them to quickly respond to sudden shifts in shopping dynamics. For the last two years, Google Cloud and Loblaw Digital have been working hand-in-hand on a broader digital roadmap that started with PC Express and expanded to include a new marketplace for pet supplies, toys, baby essentials, home decor, and other items that aren’t available in brick-and-mortar stores. 


Along the way, Loblaw Digital has gotten more efficient at building new online platforms using Google Cloud as the foundation. PC Express was completed in less than six months, while Loblaw’s new marketplace was up-and-running in just weeks. The teams are now consolidating multiple data sources in Google Cloud, which will give them the ability to look across their data and find new ways to serve customers. 


“In the matter of days, our online traffic spiked four-fold,” said Vice President, Online Grocery, Sharon Lansing. “During this time, it was critical that our teams were able to find ways to better serve our customers and ensure that we were able to deliver that service quickly.” 


Loblaw’s foresight and investments in technology enabled the company to react and adapt quickly to COVID-19. To learn more, read the Loblaw case study. 

A look at how news publishers make money with Ad Manager

Editor's note: This blog was initially posted on the Keyword.

In this post, we analyze how top news publishers monetize their content using Google Ad Manager, and how much revenue they retain. In a separate article, we explain how Google’s display advertising business works when advertisers and publishers choose to use our buy-side and sell-side services. 

Thousands of news publishers around the world use Google Ad Manager to run digital advertising on their websites and apps. News companies tell us they choose our ad management platform for its performance, controls and ability to integrate with hundreds of third party advertising technologies to help them earn the most revenue for the ad space they sell. 


We work hard to ensure our platform helps publishers succeed, so people around the world have access to high-quality news and information online. To illustrate how news publishers use our platform to monetize, we recently looked at the 100 news publishers globally with the highest programmatic revenue generated in Ad Manager. We then ran an analysis focused on the average fees retained by Ad Manager across those publishers’ digital advertising businesses. 


While the business model of each news organization is unique, this data provides clarity into the different ways major news publishers monetize their content when they use Ad Manager, and how much Google retains from the services we provide. A large portion of the revenue we keep funds the costs of running this business. Our ongoing investments in this space include development and maintenance of data centers around the world as well as advancements in machine learning and product innovations that increase publisher revenue and contribute to the open and free internet. 


In analyzing the revenue data of those top 100 news organizations, we found that on average, news publishers keep over 95 percent of the digital advertising revenue they generate when they use Ad Manager to show ads on their websites. This analysis reflects the average fees retained by Ad Manager, and does not include fees that may be paid to other platforms and services. 


Click on the image below to view the full size graphic. 



News publishers use Ad Manager to facilitate direct sales and deals with other platforms 

Publishers run their digital advertising businesses with Ad Manager in two primary ways: directly managed sales (including direct sales to advertisers and deals with other ad tech platforms) and programmatic sales with Ad Manager. 


The majority of news publishers’ digital advertising revenue comes from ad sales managed by their own teams. This includes publishers’ direct sales to advertisers and agencies. For example, news publishers sell ad space directly to advertisers, who want specific placements on their sites, like the top of the homepage. Publisher sales teams also negotiate deals with other ad tech platforms like ad exchanges, ad networks and header bidding providers. 


When news publishers sell inventory via direct sales or other ad tech platforms, they can use our ad serving technology in Ad Manager to deliver the ad on their website. As the publisher does the majority of the work when an ad is shown from one of these sources, we charge a minimal ad serving fee for the service we provide. When ads are sold this way, news publishers keep over 99 percent of the revenue.


News publishers also sell programmatically with Ad Manager 

The other way Ad Manager helps news publishers is by enabling programmatic ad sales. Programmatic ad sales allow publishers to sell more ad space than ever before, to millions of advertisers, many of which they would not have access to without this technology. 


When news publishers sell ad space programmatically with Ad Manager, they have access to robust tools that allow them to manage the ads that appear on their site. For example, publishers can input the minimum price of their ad space, control the brands that can advertise, and indicate the types of ads they want to show, among other preferences. Ad Manager then finds the highest paying advertiser that meets the publisher’s requirements. When an ad is shown programmatically through Ad Manager, news publishers keep over 80 percent of the revenue. 


We invest in Ad Manager to support our news partners 

We built Google Ad Manager to help publishers monetize their content and grow revenue. Over the years, we’ve continued to invest in innovations that improve our technology, so news companies can earn more from digital advertising and create sustainable businesses. Alongside our product enhancements, our dedicated news team partners with publishers of all sizes to uncover new ways to adapt and grow their business with advertising. This helps keep the best of the internet open and free for all of us. 


*The analysis in this post reflects the average fees retained by Ad Manager, and does not include fees that may be paid to other platforms and services. Amounts presented are not prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). 

How our display buying platforms share revenue with publishers

Editor's note: This blog was initially posted on the Keyword.

In this post, we explain how Google’s display advertising business works when advertisers and publishers choose to use our buy-side and sell-side services. Separately, we also looked at how top news publishers monetize their content using Google Ad Manager. 

Over the years, we’ve continued to invest in our advertising technology to deliver products that help publishers and advertisers sell and buy display ads online. The products we’ve built have helped the digital advertising market grow and keep the internet open and free to everyone. 


Across the ad tech industry, thousands of companies work together to show digital ads across the web. Here’s a look at how display advertising works and how ads flow from buyers to sellers every day.




Recently, some have estimated that as much as half of the revenue from display advertising is kept by the advertising technology providers themselves. We can't speak for the many other companies in this space, but that is not the case for Google. 


Even when ads flow through both our buy-side and sell-side services, publishers receive most of the revenue. In fact in 2019, when marketers used Google Ads or Display & Video 360 to buy display ads on Google Ad Manager, publishers kept over 69 percent of the revenue generated. And when publishers use our Ad Manager platform to sell ads directly to advertisers, they keep even more of the revenue


A large portion of the revenue we keep from our display advertising products goes to defray the costs of running a complex and evolving business, including building and maintaining state-of-the-art data centers, investing in cutting-edge computer science research to identify the most useful and relevant ads, and enabling innovations that increase publisher revenue, maximize advertiser return on investment, and keep the web free and open for everyone. 


To help illustrate how our ad tech solutions work, below are two of the most common ways advertisers buy ads using our services. 


Display advertising purchased with Google Ads 

Every day, millions of advertisers, including many small to emerging businesses, use our Google Ads product to buy search ads, ads that appear on YouTube, and display ads that appear on non-Google websites and apps. Advertisers that choose this platform do so because it makes the process of buying digital advertising easy and effective. 


When advertisers use Google Ads to buy display ads, the vast majority only pay Google when a user takes an action after seeing their ad, such as clicking on the ad, filling out a form or making a purchase. Though Google only charges these advertisers when a user takes an action, we always pay publishers for their ad space sold via Ad Manager. To enable this dynamic, our technology evaluates every impression and converts the advertisers’ business objectives to cost-per-mille (CPM) bids in advertising auctions to buy publisher ad inventory. By taking on the risk of showing ads to users—regardless of whether the user takes the action the advertiser wants—Google Ads helps buyers and sellers more efficiently pay and earn in ways that best suit their businesses. 


In 2019, publishers using Ad Manager kept over 69 percent of the total amount advertisers paid when using Google Ads to buy their display inventory. Because Google Ads does not charge advertisers for most impressions, it does not have a fixed per-impression fee. Instead, Google’s share of revenue varies over time based on various factors, including the advertisers’ specified objectives, the types of display ads they choose to run and how users respond to them. 




Display advertising purchased with Display & Video 360 

Google also works with large brands and their agencies to help them execute complex display advertising strategies and campaigns. These advertisers often use our Display & Video 360 enterprise software to reach consumers around the world. 


Most advertisers that choose this platform buy digital ads in many different formats, on many different properties—well beyond the publisher websites and apps that use Ad Manager. Using Display & Video 360, these advertisers can buy ads on more than 80 publisher or sell-side platforms including AT&T, Comcast, Index Exchange, OpenX, Rubicon Project, MoPub and others. Our standard rate for advertisers using Display & Video 360 to purchase display ads is 15 percent. 


Many publishers choose to use multiple sell-side platforms to sell their programmatic inventory to advertisers. When an advertiser uses Display & Video 360 to buy inventory from a publisher that uses Ad Manager, publishers keep over 69 percent of the total amount advertisers paid. 




We invest in our systems to support the open web 

Although we don’t know what other companies charge, we’ve shared our pricing to provide clarity into how our display business works. By helping businesses large and small reach customers, we can help publishers fund their content online and contribute to sustaining the ad-supported web for people around the world. 


*Figures presented in this post reflect the fees retained by Google and the revenue shares Google pays to publishers, and do not include fees that may be paid to other platforms and services. Amounts are not prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) 

COVID-19 closed my store, but online opened the door to new customers

Peter Laywine, Owner of Laywine's

In 1987, when Filofaxes were the new, sought-after item for young people in business, I started Laywine’s stationery store in Yorkville to introduce Toronto to this must-have organization system. Although Filofaxes had been around since 1921, and had become huge in London Tokyo and New York by the mid 80’s, my shop was the first to present it as an organizational tool, rather than an accessory. As the years went by, the store’s inventory began to mimic my own passions, and I searched far and wide for the tools that my customers needed to let their creative writing flow. Now 33 years later, you’ll still find Parker Duofold fountain pens on our shelves — the same brand that aided Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in bringing Sherlock Holmes to life. 


My core strategy has always been to build relationships with people, and the sales will follow. In the early days, I’d have one of my staff call each customer to let them know that their annual planner was available, or that their special order had arrived. In early 2019, I finally built an online store with Shopify, but until recently, it accounted for less than 2% of sales. Why throw resources into building up something new when the old-school methods were working? 


Then the unprecedented happened. COVID-19 swept the globe, and I had to close my store. The second day of the lockdown was the very first time I made zero dollars in sales in the history of my business. I was terrified. Selling pens, paper, leather and ink is an extremely tactile experience. I wasn’t sure how anyone would understand my products if they weren’t feeling them in their hands. 


After a few days of being closed, I connected with one of my former employees, Andy, and expressed my concern. She suggested that we consider something entirely new for Laywine’s — the potential of digital marketing. 


We set up a Google Ads account, and set up a few campaigns (mostly Andy’s work) so that when people searched for our most profitable pens, we were there for them. We immediately began to see the online business start to spark. In the first six weeks I saw an increase in sales of almost 1700%! We also saw a huge uptick in website inquiries. While typically, my customers would be coming through foot traffic, sales now come from far beyond Ontario, including the U.S. and other parts of Canada. Currently, 70% of my website traffic has come from outside of Toronto, when previously, almost all of my customers were local. 


COVID-19 has brought on new trends in product purchases. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in orders for notebooks, with journaling on the rise and customers keeping track of the changes in their lives. There’s also been a huge demand for stationery, as people find they have the time to send and respond to letters, orare starting to build their at-home offices. 


These are challenging times, and I know businesses across Canada are struggling to stay alive. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to pivot my business, and embrace a digital presence. When you need a little extra help, remember there are millions of customers online, who are looking for you and your products. Thirty-three years ago I opened a store in Yorkville, and now I have a store in homes around the world. 


Helping and celebrating Canadian small businesses

Many small businesses across the country temporarily closed their storefronts this year during the country-wide lockdown. According to the OECD, these closures are likely to hit small and medium-sized businesses the hardest. For many, digital tools have become a lifeline during this time. 


Today, we’re kicking off International Small Business Week, a global initiative taking place from now until Saturday June 27. This week is a celebration of the resilience of our local small business owners - like Toronto-based stationary shop owner, Peter Laywine, who after over 30 years in business, set up his online store in March, which not only saved his business, but increased sales by almost 1700%. 


To get the week started, we’re highlighting free tools and resources to help small businesses get set up with online stores, connect with their customers virtually, and get support from Canadians looking to rally behind their favourite local businesses. We hope you find these new tools and resources helpful. 


Get set up online 
A few weeks ago, we announced a new pledge to get 50,000 Canadian small businesses online. In partnership with Digital Main Street, the ShopHERE powered by Google program helps Canadian small businesses and artists build a digital presence. Eligible businesses can sign up for the program now to get a free online shop built for them. 


One of the first businesses to go through the program was Toronto-based tea shop, Plentea, which had to permanently close its doors due to COVID-19. Plentea quickly pivoted to an online-only shop and now has the potential to reach customers across the globe. 


“We signed up for the program and within a week we were up and running with the first iteration of our Shopify website. It's hard enough letting our guests know that they can no longer visit our store, but It felt very empowering telling them that we will be online, and they can continue to order our loose leaf teas through www.plentea.ca. We have already had an influx of orders and a lot of "thank you's" for us being online.” - Tariq Al Barwani, Founder, Plentea 


Tariq Al Barwani, Founder, Plentea 

For small businesses looking to grow their digital skills and get the most out of the web, we’ve created a Google for Small Business hub of free resources and training, a step-by-step online starter kit, and we’re also offering free virtual workshops and 1:1 coaching sessions through Grow with Google OnAir


Get support from Canadians looking to help 
Canadian search interest in "how to help small businesses" skyrocketed in March 2020 as consumers are looking for ways to support their corner bookstores, local watering holes, beloved dance studios and other businesses that give their neighbourhoods character—even if from a distance. 


Merchants can now add support links for donations and gift cards to their Business Profiles, letting Canadians support some of their favourite businesses like Edmonton’s Continental Treat Fine Bistro, Montreal’s Bis, and Toronto’s Wong’s Ice Cream, right in Google Search and Maps. 


"A donation or a gift card towards a future dine in experience will go directly to paying our amazing staff and to keeping our doors open through these tough times." - Sylvester Borowka, Continental Treat Fine Bistro 


People can now look up their favourite local businesses to see if they have donation or gift card links on their Business Profile 

Get connected to customers virtually 
Many small business owners who normally provide in-person services are now building virtual offerings. Yoga studios are offering online classes, salons are hosting virtual hair styling classes, and restaurant owners have quickly implemented delivery and curbside pick-up options. On Google my Business, we have introduced new features that make it easier for verified merchants to connect with their customers through their Business Profile in Search and Maps. 


For bookings: 
  • Add attributes like “online classes,” “online appointments,” or “online estimates” to their Business Profiles to let people know how they’re operating and what the offerings are. 
  • We’ve expanded Reserve with Google to help merchants offer easy appointment bookings for online services so customers can quickly find available times, book a slot, and add it to their Google Calendar. Millions of people have already booked in-person appointments thanks to integrations from our Reserve with Google partners


Merchants can offer easy appointment bookings for online services 


For restaurants: 
  • Lately, interest in food delivery and takeout has exploded. In response, we’ve added more third-party ordering providers, so people can order directly on Google. To give merchants even more control, we’ll soon be making it easier to indicate their preferred online ordering partners on their Business Profiles.
  • Today people are deciding where to grab food not only based on the menu, but also on how easy it is to pick up safely. We added attributes like “curbside pickup,” “no contact delivery,” and “dine-in” so that restaurants can easily share these important details on their Business Profiles in Search and Maps. Since March, more than 3 million restaurants have added or edited their dining attributes. Some restaurateurs are even ditching dining areas for good. 

Share with customers ways they can order food 



We know that businesses across Canada are looking for support during this time. We hope these new product features, tools, resources and programs can help them on their road to recovery. 

Supporting local communities for Pride 2020

In August 1966, trans women, drag queens, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community fought for their rights and fair treatment outside Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. Three years later on June 28, 1969, the LGBTQ+ community, once again, rose up against inequitable treatment and police misconduct at the Stonewall Inn. For both of these historic moments, LGBTQ+ people of colour—and in particular Black trans women and trans women of colour—helped lead the fight against hate and injustice. In many respects, the modern day LGBTQ+ movement for equality was born from these rebellious acts and the many events preceding them.

Pride should still be a protest. For those within the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community—especially Black+ trans women—the injustices we're seeing today are a reminder of past and present struggles for equity, justice, and equality under the law. We believe communities must show up for one another, and we stand in solidarity with the Black+ community across the world, honoring the longstanding Pride tradition of unity.

This year for Pride, we’re focusing on helping local organizations in our community that are creating change for LGBTQ+ people of colour, trans and non-binary communities, LGBTQ+ families, and many more.

Supporting local organizations

Local LGBTQ+ organizations are providing critical services for those in need, whether they're helping someone find a bed in a shelter, offering skills and training services, or advocating for more inclusive and equitable policies. Lives depend on these organizations.

One of these organizations is Pride Toronto. Founded in 1981, Pride Toronto has a legacy of purposeful activism for eqality and sharing the diverse stories and perspectives of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, we’re proud to be a Gold sponsor for Pride Toronto and support their work to bring the annual pride celebrations online. The diverse programming has everything from trivia, workouts with olympians, club nights, and an online Pride parade on June 28.

Digital skills training for local businesses

To support LGBTQ+ small businesses and professionals, we’re partnering with Venture Out and Tech Proud on Digital Skills Pride Week from June 22 - 26. In collaboration with other tech companies, we’ll host sessions for small businesses around maintaining productivity, best practices for remote working, creating a website, and building an online presence. Businesses can learn more and register here.

Together, virtually

This year, Pride will feel different for many of us. We’re finding ways to bring people together virtually, including a toolkit that helps organizations host remote Pride events.

We’ve also launched a collection of videos on our YouTube Canada channel to elevate LGBTQ+ voices and share historic Canadian civil rights moments. Dive into interviews from The Queer Network, and listen to personal stories from a collection of Canadian creators, including Julie Vu, GigiGorgeous and AsapSCIENCE.


While Pride is usually marked by jubilant marches and beautiful parade floats, it’s much more than that. For us, Pride is about the ongoing struggle for equity, visibility, and acceptance. We’ll be spending Pride as allies to our the Black+ community members, reflecting on the many LGBTQ+ people of colour who started our liberation movement decades ago, and finding ways to remedy systemic injustices.