Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Google Offers beta starts in Portland, Oregon tomorrow

(Cross-posted on the Commerce, Places, and Retail Blogs)

Portlanders know how to mix the urban (killer coffee, music and art) and the small-town (easy walking, biking and socializing). There’s no end to the city’s great restaurants, coffee shops, hot spots and places to explore. That’s why, when we started planning the Google Offers beta, we knew Portland was the ideal place to get it all kicked off.

Today, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and VP of Commerce Stephanie Tilenius announced at the D9 Conference that we’re launching Google Offers beta in Portland, Ore. tomorrow.

Our first Google Offer will be from beloved local java shop Floyd’s Coffee. Husband-and-wife team Jack Inglis and Cris Chapman opened Floyd’s seven years ago, offering up espresso, coffee, breakfast burritos and more. They now have two convenient locations—one cozy, brick-lined shop in Old Town and another Stumptown watering-hole in Buckman.

With Google Offers, we’re working with great local businesses like Floyd’s Coffee, Le Bistro Montage, Powell’s Books and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade to help them reach more Portlanders. We hope to bring Google Offers to other cities soon, with New York City and the San Francisco Bay area as our next stops.

You can learn more about Google Offers and sign up at google.com/offers. If you’re a business interested in participating in Google Offers, you can let us know too. Finally, if you’re at the Portland Rose Festival this Saturday, visit our Google booth at CityFair to say hello to our team and learn more about Google Offers.

The Business June 1st 2011, "Jack Boulware" Edition

The Business blasts into June with a visit from author and journalist Jack Boulware. Mr. Boulware is one of the founders of Litquake, has written for Playboy, the New York Times Magazine, Wired, and Salon. He recently published "Gimme Something Better," an oral history of Bay Area punk rock, and Wednesday, he'll be reading with us at The Business.

We've got a full set of Businessmen this week, with Alex Koll returning, and Bucky Sinister, Chris Garcia, and Sean Keane abiding. As always, The Business is just five dollars, the greatest deal in the Mission outside of Benders' Whiskey Wednesdays. Doors at 7:30, show at 8:15. BYO-Burrito.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Google, Newspaper Archives, and the Business of Cultural Heritage

Google announced this month that it is ending its ambitious project to digitally archive newspapers. The project to scan the archives of the nation’s newspapers and make them available online as a searchable historical record was announced in 2008 with the level of hubris only found in online enterprises.

"Our objective is to bring all the world's historical newspaper information online,” said Adam Smith, director of product management at Google, announcing the project. Those lofty aims were echoed by Punit Soni, manager of the newspaper initiative: “As we work with more and more publishers, we'll move closer towards our goal of making those billions of pages of newsprint from around the world searchable, discoverable, and accessible online…."Over time, as we scan more articles and our index grows, we'll also start blending these archives into our main search results so that when you search Google.com, you'll be searching the full text of these newspapers as well.”

After scanning about 60 million pages and beginning to make them available as full page shots--because costs of disaggregating and indexing were too high and copyright clearances were difficult to obtain for older material—the company announced that it will quit scanning pages, but continue offering the existing pages available on it Google News Archive site. It said it would not invest any new effort to improve indexing or add tools to better search and manage the archive.

The project may have been well-intentioned, but it was not well thought out. It was a free service designed to use the search traffic at the site to raise revenue through advertising Google would put on the site. The scale of the project was enormous and requiring finding, scanning, and indexing thousands of daily and weekly newspapers--many no longer in existence. It would require a long-term commitment of funds, personnel and server capacity to catalogue and scan the material and provide and maintain search functions. The project ultimately incorporated on a fraction of the papers it had hoped to scan, did so spottily in many cases, and its usability was poor because it never mastered the problems of handling so much content. Worse yet, it discovered that history was not a money making business.

The exit announcement is not a surprise and is another sign that players the virtual world are stopping deluding themselves that they are replacing the entire world and that the laws of economics and finance to not apply to them.

As laudable the preservation of newspaper archives might be, expecting it to be completed and maintained by a commercial firm defied sense and historical experience. For centuries, the most important historical records, books, art have been maintain in governmentally and charitably funded collections because commercial enterprises were either unwilling to bear the costs or to allow the large scale efforts required to preserve, catalogue, index, and make available cultural heritage materials distract them from their business activities.

Why would anyone expect Google to act otherwise?

As Google increasingly acts as a mature business it will increasingly shed activities that were launched as goodwill gestures because the costs of their operations reduces the company’s financial performance and will diminish the value of its stock compared to other tech firms. Over time it will be harder for the firm to maintain the stance that it is not self-interested and motivated only by the opportunities to improve the lives of the public by providing access to all the world’s information.

The tentacles of its operations that have reached out into to many fields will increasingly be pulled back if they do not yield financial results. And fears that Google will rule the world will diminish. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other big players of the digital world all have limits, just as did the handful of firms that once controlled steel, oil, and shipping through cartels. At some point even mammoth, wealthy companies do not have the resources and capabilities to keep expanding endlessly and their performance declines, leading shareholders to rein them in and competitors to find opportunities.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Connecting businesses with customers: Google hits up Chicago’s NRA Show 2011

(Cross-posted from the Google Places Blog.)

Earlier this week at the National Restaurant Association’s convention at McCormick Place in Chicago, the Google Places team met with hundreds of business owners to share with them all the benefits of Google Places. Our goal was simple: show business owners how Google Places can help them get found online and engage with their customers.

After setting up free Google Places accounts for many business owners, we demo-ed some of the many useful features they receive when they sign up for Places:

  • stand out with a business listing on Google.com and Google Maps when customers search for you
  • see what search terms people are using to find your Place page
  • upload photos and videos to your page, and encourage your customers to submit their own
  • reply publicly to customer reviews to show you’re listening
  • and lots more!

After claiming their business listings, business owners received our “Recommended on Google” window stickers. These interactive stickers have Near Field Communications (NFC) technology built right in, enabling people with cutting-edge phones like the Nexus S to simply touch their phones to the sticker to pull up that business’s Place page — containing relevant info about that location from across the web — on the map.

But perhaps the biggest hit at the conference? Our Google-colored bean bags! Many attendees stopped by just to take a load off in one of these comfy chairs:

A big thank you to the National Restaurant Association for having us, and to all the business owners we connected with at the convention. Keep in touch with us here on the blog, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted by Esther Brown and Margarita Vaisman, Google Places Community Team

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Business, May 25th 2011 - "Two Seans/Shawns, One Kurt" Edition

This week The Business returns like a video you saw on YouTube years ago that you can never get out of your mind no mater how much you cry and drink. And we're bringing comedians Shawn Robbins and Kurt Weitzmann to help hold you down and make you watch it again.

Shawn Robbins is creator and smooth operator of the successful indie rock and stand-up comedy showcase, Snob Theater (recently featured in the Noise Pop Music Festival). A young whippersnapper with eyes on the prize who has acclimated to the San Francisco comedy scene very nicely (thank you very much) since relocating here from New England. His cup runneth over with jokes.

Also performing is
comedic renaissance man Kurt Weitzmann. Kurt is one of the founding evil genii behind Comedy Noir Productions (and their popular "Roast" show series), writerproducerdirector of the short film "Last Call" (“Believably written, deftly directed and beautifully acted..." - San Francisco Weekly) and a Bay Area stand-up comedy heavyweight. Getting his start at the infamous Holy City Zoo was a fitting launch for his unique and darkly creative talents that we are pleased as punch to have on our stage.

Joining them will be your four steadies: Bucky, Chris, Sean and Alex. And joining them will be all of you, for only $5. And joining you will be burritos and joy.*

*(Joy provided. Burritos are on you)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Google Places Heads to Chicago for the NRA Show 2011

(Cross-posted from the Google Places Blog.)

Starting today, Google Places will be at McCormick Place in Chicago for the National Restaurant Association’s four-day annual conference of restaurant owners and managers.

Here’s what we have in store:
  • We’ll have a booth on the convention floor, so swing by to meet the team and learn about all the great ways Google can help you better manage your presence online using Google Places. Haven’t claimed your Place page yet? No problem, we’ll get you started right then and there so you can start getting more customers in your door.
  • On Sunday, we’ll give a keynote address about our suite of local products, including Google Places for business, our ratings and reviews tool, check-in offers and AdWords online advertising. Don’t miss it!
We’re excited to team up with the NRA Show this year, and look forward to meeting all you business owners out there to hear your feedback and questions. See you in Chicago!

Posted by Sameer Mahmood, Local Marketing Team

Friday, May 20, 2011

Google Apps highlights – 5/20/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last few weeks, we made improvements to instant messaging, increased capacity for saved contacts, added powerful data analysis with pivot tables in spreadsheets and introduced more flexible management tools for Google Apps customers.

Better AIM interoperability in Gmail and beyond
Google Talk is built on open protocols for instant messaging, making it possible for other IM networks to connect seamlessly with Google Talk. Yesterday we rolled out improvements to make
chatting with your AIM buddies even easier in Gmail, iGoogle, Orkut and Google Talk on Android devices. Now you can invite your AIM buddies to chat from any of these places just by entering their AOL screennames, even if you don’t have or use an AIM account.

Room for 15,000 more contacts in Gmail
We’ve heard from a surprising number of super-connected people who wanted to save more contacts in Gmail than its 10,000-contact limit allowed, so a couple weeks ago we made Gmail better by
supporting up to 25,000 contacts. You can also save even more information with each contact, so if you were previously bumping up against the limits, you should have a whole lot more extra space for your contacts now.

Pivot tables in Google spreadsheets
Google spreadsheets now has another tool to help serious dataheads make sense from large data sets:
pivot tables. With pivot tables, you can easily summarize rows and columns of information, helping you quickly spot patterns in the information that you might not have noticed otherwise. If you’re new to pivot tables, we made a short video to show what you can do.

Customizable administration options for Google Apps customers
IT staff members in large organizations don’t all need the same level of control in their Google Apps environment. For example, a university IT help desk should be able to reset lost passwords for students, but probably doesn’t need to modify school-wide email settings. On Monday, we made Google Apps much more flexible by introducing
delegated administration, which lets full administrators assign partial administration privileges to other individuals.

Who’s gone Google?
In the last three weeks, we’ve seen more than 60,000 organizations choose our cloud products for their communication and collaboration needs, and this week a couple international customers stood out from the crowd.
Oxygen Design Agency based in Toronto, Canada chose Google Apps and avoided a big investment in traditional email servers when their previous email solution started to break down. With Google Apps, their downtime woes have disappeared, designers can stay in contact when they’re meeting clients and the system is much simpler and more affordable to manage.

EAT. has more than 100 restaurant locations and 1,700 employees in the U.K. They serve fresh, healthy food—as well as kilobytes to customers through technology programs like an iPhone ordering app, free in-store Wi-Fi, a Twitter feed and a tap-to-pay system. EAT. selected Google Apps to replace their old system to get away from complex, costly upgrades, achieve hassle-free scalability as their business expands and securely support a wider array of mobile devices.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the
Google Apps Blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hundreds of ways to work smarter with Google Apps

Posted by Michelle Lisowski, Google Apps Team

Talking to our small businesses customers, we see they have a passion for what they do and a drive to succeed. On the Google Apps team, we have a passion for helping small businesses succeed by providing them with access to the same technology that large enterprises often have at their disposal. Google Apps offers small businesses hundreds of ways to leverage the power of the web to work more efficiently and focus scarce time and resources on getting ahead of the competition.

To celebrate National Small Business Week, we’d like to share a few of the ways that Google Apps is being used every day (we’ll spare you the time of wading through hundreds). And to make it even easier to get started on tasks such as invoicing and project planning, all examples provided are based on templates from the Google Docs and Google Sites template galleries.

Google Docs template gallery:

#1: Letterhead - Create a professional looking template for your outgoing letters and share it with others in the company. Print letters directly from your browser with Chrome.
#2: Budget planner - Easily build a 12-month budget spreadsheet that you can edit from anywhere throughout the year – no matter where your spending takes you.
#3: Invoice - Save time by creating invoices in a spreadsheet – totals are automatically calculated, and you can share them with co-workers to ensure accuracy and speedy payments.

#4: Customer satisfaction survey - Get feedback from customers and visitors about your product or service with a form. Easily analyze and graph the data.
#5: Business plan - Put your vision down in a doc. Share it with family, investors, banks, and others to get input and spread your ideas.
#6: Project timeline - Give others in your company insight into key milestones, completion dates, and other project details.

Google Sites template gallery:

#7: Intranet - Build an internal website where employees can access company news, employee training information, company policies, holiday schedules, and more.

#8: Project site - Centralize project information in one place. Display a team profile and key dates, and embed project docs and spreadsheets directly in the site.
#9: Team site - Create team rosters, schedule team meetings, and track progress of action items all in one place.
#10: Employee profiles - Build a community by creating profile pages where your employees can post their goals, internal resume, and internal blog.

The list continues but we hope this gives some idea of the range of use cases where Google Apps can help improve productivity for any small business. To learn more, check out some of our new resources including product videos and additional templates at www.google.com/apps/smb.

What Can Google Answer to Help You Grow Your Business?

Happy National Small Business Week!

On Monday, we gave you
five tips to empower your business with online tools and resources. Because it’s National Small Business Week, we’re also taking the time to reflect and find additional ways we can help businesses like yours. Online marketing and technology products may not central to why you started your business, but they can be central to growing your business.

In honor of National Small Business Week,
we want to answer your questions about online marketing and technology products designed for small businesses. We want to hear what’s on your mind about how you can use technology to start and run your business. Your question could be about using technology and online resources in general or about Google products and services specifically.

If you have something to share, head over to our
Google Moderator session where you can add a new idea or you can vote on ideas that have already been submitted.

We’re excited to hear from you and we hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day to let us know what you’d most like to hear about from us. Just by sharing what’s on your mind, we get a better sense of what we can improve and where we can help make things easier and more efficient.

And if you haven’t already checked out some of our existing resources, take a few minutes to visit:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Click. The AdWords newsletter: May 2011

Your website is your face to online customers - are you greeting them at the door with a smile? Your site should engage with new customers, make it easy for them to find your product or service, and maybe earn you a little extra revenue. This month we share some quick strategies to help you get the full value from your website.

Happy reading!
The Google AdWords team

P.S. Have some feedback about this newsletter? Please let us know what you think.
In this Issue
MAY 2011, VOL 3

Make the most of your website

You make the rules

Maximize income

Anatomy 101

Your AdWords Account
Make the most of your website

You already know that an online presence is an important tool for building your business. Indeed, advertisers often ask us what they can do to improve their websites. We talked to some of the experts here at Google and they offered these suggestions:

Learn the basic rules of an effective site
Whether you're a tech expert or a novice, here are some simple design tips to help you create a compelling site:

  • Pass the 8 second test.
    A visitor should understand the purpose of your website within a few seconds.
  • Tell them what's in it for them.
    Highlight tangible benefits that potential customers can gain from your product or service. Will they be able to save money? Time? Buy a one-of-a-kind gift?
  • Use compelling images.
    Help visitors to your site take the steps towards making a purchase. Make those steps clear and easy to reach.

Don't guess... test!
Which image or call to action will lead to more sales on your website? Free tools like Google's Website Optimizer make it easy to test different versions of your site and view the results. Can you tell which webpage version below performed better?

Website Optimizer Original Website Optimizer Redesign
Version A
Version B

Universal Technical Institute redesigned their website using Website Optimizer, and saw a 300% increase in conversion rates (read more).

Make extra money from your site
Your site's most important job is to promote your business and make it easy for potential customers get the info or product they want. But you can also make extra revenue by using Google AdSense to show relevant ads on your wesbite. It's free and quick to set up (you can even use your AdWords account to sign in).

You make the rules

We know you're busy, so we've created a new AdWords feature to save you valuable time—Automated Rules. With Automated Rules, you can tell your account what to do in advance.

For example: you can set your budget to be higher on peak shopping days and lower during the rest of the week. You can also automatically change your bids for keywords based on their click-through or conversion rates.

Ready to try it? Visit our Help Center to watch a quick video about Automated Rules or to get detailed instructions with screenshots.

Set a Rule Now

Maximize income

TeAch-nology.com, a web portal for teachers, found a hidden source of revenue on their website. A longtime AdWords advertiser, founder Paul McKee noticed his ads showing on other education sites, and was impressed with how well the ads matched the content. He wanted to try showing ads on TeAch-nology.com as well, to explore how much revenue he could earn.

Google AdSenseHe tried Google AdSense, a free, easy way to earn revenue by showing relevant ads alongside online content.  McKee found that AdSense ads drove 8 times more revenue than other forms of contextual advertising did. AdSense now accounts for 50 percent of company income.

"We don't have a full-time ad sales team," McKee noted. "AdSense takes care of itself, allowing us to focus on running our business."

Read more about using AdSense to complement your AdWords account, and see if you can maximize revenue from your online content. Google AdSense

Anatomy 101

Google body browserYou may be used to zooming in and out on Google Maps to discover the world around you, from a neighborhood park to a hotel across the country. With Google body browser, an educational tool from Google labs, you can explore the human body in the same way.

Start off with a clickable, rotatable, 3-d image of a person. Drag down the slider to see layers of the human anatomy revealed: muscle tissue, bones, organs and nerves. Wondering what that femur you broke while ice skating looks like? Use the search box, which lets you find and highlight specific parts of the body.


Posted by Jenn Karakkal, AdWords Small Business Team