Friday, August 31, 2012

SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air: Using the Google Display Network to generate brand awareness

AdWords Specialists Courtney Pannell, Adam Ziegler and Bethany Powers hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the second installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.

During the Hangout, we focused on the Google Display Network (GDN) and how to utilize GDN targeting to expand your reach. Even if you’re a small business, the GDN can be a powerful advertising tool, but there’s a lot to learn about it. We shared tips about ad formats, bidding, campaign structure, and targeting options to get you started off on the right foot!

Here are a couple of user questions we answered during the Hangout:

The Google Display Network is vast. If I’m a local business, how can I ensure my ads only show to users in my area?
Even though the Google Display Network contains a wide variety of websites, you can definitely control who sees your ad on those sites. Let’s say you’re a restaurant owner in Charleston, SC and you only want users in that area to see your ad. On the ‘Settings’ tab in your account, you’d want to set your location targeting to the Charleston area, so that only users physically located in that area could see your ad on the GDN.

There are so many targeting methods on the GDN. How do I know which is best for me?
There are quite a few targeting options for Display campaigns (such as contextual targeting with keywords, placements, topics and interest categories). If you’re new to the GDN, you may want to start off with the contextual targeting option. How that works: you’ll specify a set of keywords and we’ll use those keywords to match your ads to websites on the GDN that might be relevant. That will give you a good starting point to see what kind of sites are out there and are relevant to your business.

To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday September 13, when we discuss how to optimize your account to generate customer purchases.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Canadian Media Merger Creates High Market Power and Runs Against Concentration Trends Elsewhere

The proposed merger between Bell Canada Enterprises and Astral Media will shortly be considered by the Canadian Radio and Television Council (CTRC). The merged company will own 70 television and cable channels, more than 100 radio stations, and some of the country’s most popular websites.

The combined company will serve nearly one-third of the national TV audience, more than 40 percent of the national cable TV audience, and about 30 percent of the nationwide radio audience. In addition the merger will increase Bell’s vertical integration and its power over distribution systems used by competitors. This later factor is particularly important because Canada lacks much of the regulatory control seen in Europe and the US over business practices of distribution systems that are also used by competing firms.

The merger will benefit the two companies by giving them more market power and permitting efficiencies at the corporate and divisional levels. It is also likely to produce efficiencies at the operational level by using more common content, something that is especially likely in its radio operations.

Investors will see benefit in the future. Share prices often go up before mergers as speculators jump into the market and then sell before the merger is completed, but prices typically decline after mergers when the realities of the costs of integration reduce short- to mid-term performance.  It will take some time before the benefits of the consolidation reach investors as dividends and heightened share value.

The downside of the merger will be borne by consumers and advertisers because the combination will create more market power to push up prices and reduce incentives for better service and quality. Competitors will also face a stronger company that controls the distribution infrastructures for their products and this should lead to higher prices. Additionally, one can expect social harm because the merger reduces plurality of those selecting content and the original content made available—particularly in radio—will probably be diminished.

How the CTRC will respond is unknown.  However, Canada has traditionally permitted far greater media concentration than other countries arguing that it helps strengthen Canadian ownership. It has permitted media concentration levels 2-3 times higher than those found in US and Europe and has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.

Most other countries have been using broadcasting law and competition law in recent decades to reduce concentration in content provision and those policies have been quite successful. Why not Canada?

Canadian policy has been hampered by its nationalistic rhetoric, a significant degree of regulatory capture, and also because there are inconsistencies among broadcasting and competition policies  that allow regulators to downplay public and consumer interests.  The CRTC deals with station ownership, for example, but has set a market cap of 45% on total national television audience—about twice that in most countries. The Competition Bureau can review media mergers, but has tended to be concerned only about effects on advertising prices. Existing policies do not effectively address cross media ownership effects.

Ironically, the public service broadcaster (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) was heavily criticized when it served about 40 percent of the television audience. Commercial firms were particularly vocal arguing that having such a large firm distorted the market and their complaints led Parliament to reduce support for the CBC and over time its audience has been cut in half.

It will be interesting to see whether CRTC is willing to take a broader view and is willing to stand up to the interests of Bell and Astral when it considers this massive merger.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Visit Greece used Google+ to make #greekphotos more popular than #greekcrisis

The Greek financial crisis may have made headlines around the world, but it’s worth remembering that from Santorini to Rhodes to Athens, the sun continues to shine, olive groves flourish and the wine still flows – all in the context of bright blue skies and pristine seas. It’s a message that Visit Greece, the brand umbrella of the Greek National Tourism Organization, is keen to get across.

Visit Greece understood that encouraging people to discover and travel to Greece depends on reminding potential tourists of the country’s unrivalled natural, historical, cultural, and culinary riches. They needed a means to engage these prospective visitors, ideally with a huge global reach and the capability to bring the stunning country to life through captivating imagery.

Having adopted Google+ from day one of the platform’s launch, Visit Greece was the first tourism related organisation in the world to set up a Google+ page. The reasoning behind the implementation was simple: the worldwide reach of Google+ provided a significant pool of potential visitors, and this was an audience simply too good to pass up. Here are some of Visit Greece’s Google+ strategies:

Visit Greece realized that its business particularly lends itself to rich media content; imagery has proved itself to be much more important than links or text. Visit Greece regularly posts high-resolution photography, as Google+ photos makes it simple to promote every aspect of Greece. This strategy has been so successful that the team has made the hashtag #greekphotos far more popular than #greekcrisis.

Circles and ripples
Circles makes it easy for Visit Greece to tailor content for different groups of followers so that certain messages can be shared with particular segments. Followers are placed into circles depending on their interests, +1’s and shares, their personal posts and sometimes their identification details. Visit Greece then creates posts according to each circle’s characteristics. To see how posts spread across Google+, Visit Greece is also using ripples, a great Google+ feature that helps identify influencers and shows how communities are formed around different content.

Social extensions
Visit Greece uses social extensions across all of their AdWords search campaigns, helping the organization obtain more +1’s and traffic to their Google+ page and at the same time increasing the number of followers. In this way, they’ve achieved an impressive 35% CTR uplift on AdWords campaigns. On top of that, Visit Greece also installed the Google+ badge on its homepage, making it easier than ever for fans to follow the organization. On average the daily increase in followers ranges between 3,000 and 10,000. They even gained an incredible 18,000 new followers in one day!
Already Visit Greece has surpassed 750,000 followers on Google+, more than any other tourism association. And the Visit Greece Google+ page has been selected as a recommended page to follow in the travel industry because of its rich unique content, in turn raising the profile of the association and the brand awareness around Greece.

Want to learn more about how your business could replicate this kind of success? Download the full case study here.

The Business on The Playa 2012

Taking The Business to the Spirit World for a special desert session on Thursday August 30th:

Chris Garcia
Caitlin Gill
Alex Koll
and very special guest
Moshe Kasher
Cory Loykasek
Donny Divanian
and Cornell Reid
Thursday August 30th
7:00 & Edelweiss (SE Corner)
Black Rock City

The Business August 29th 2012, The "No Burning, Just Men" Edition

The Business is proud to announce a new employee for San Francisco's finest alternative comedy showcase. It's Mike Drucker, regular Business guest and comedian extraordinaire. He's performed at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, written for The Onion, IGN, McSweeney's, and Saturday Night Live, and his cuddly exterior masks a virile man's man.

That's what this week's show is about: manliness. Chris Garcia, Alex Koll, and Caitlin Gill are busy taking The Business to the Spirit World with a Thursday sh

ow at Burning Man (two admissions for one dream catcher; bring-your-own-peyote), so regulars Bucky Sinister, Sean Keane (and now Mike Drucker!) are leaving out the Burning, and delivering nothing but Men.

One such man is Anthony Bedard, of the legendary bands Hank IV and the Icky Boyfriends. Mr. Bedard books Club Chuckles, a monthly comedy series at the Hemlock Tavern, and runs Talent Moat Records, producer of comedy albums by such artists as Brent Weinbach, Nick Flanagan, and Bucky Sinister. Mr. Bedard is extremely manly, having once built his own log cabin out of old-growth redwoods and remaindered Styx albums. You can follow his collection of ridiculous band PR on Twitter at @FolderRock.

Another manly man is Ben Kolina, fresh off a killer performance at the Savage Henry comedy festival in Humboldt. Kolina's pretty savage himself, having once fist-fought a grizzly bear to a standstill in the forests outside of Livermore, and made a rug out of its carcass. He's performed at the SF Punch Line and Tommy Ts, and he's got more testosterone in his bloodstream than Melky Cabrera.

Finally, man's man Joey Devine joins us. The former most inspirational player from Tim Hardaway's basketball camp, Joey also destroyed at the Savage Henry festival. He also once destroyed a small fishing village just by shouting at it. He can grow a beard faster than a lumberjack, and he can charm an audience faster than a three-legged stripper. Joey is a member of acclaimed sketch group Frown Land, the creator and host of Joey Devine: After Dark, and a three-time MMA champion.

Even with all this manliness, The Business is still just five bucks, and fist bumps are totally free, bro. Bring your own burrito policy is still in place, although if you bring a veggie burrito, we just might slap it out of your hands at the door and douse you with Axe body spray. Men!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: GoMo

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with Nabil Haschemie, who showed off Google’s GoMo initiative at We learned how important and useful a mobile-friendly website is for businesses both large and small. Nabil walked us through an eye-opening demo during which we created a mobile friendly site from a desktop site in minutes. We answered your questions throughout, covering pricing, some details about supporting different types of phones, and reasons to Go Mo.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

How can I be sure my new mobile-friendly website works on Android, iPhone, and Blackberry?
Sites created on DudaMobile are optimized for most platforms including Android, iOS and BB. Once you’ve created your site in the editor you check how the sites will appear on different devices by checking the ‘Preview’ mode. You can find the ‘Preview’ link on the top right of the editor page.

How does the pricing work?
Within the scope of our Go Mobile campaign our partner DudaMobile offers its service completely free for a year. There are no obligations at all. After the free year you can either upgrade and pay $9/month or the your mobile site will show ad banner in the footer area.

How can I edit my mobile-friendly website after creating it?
Once signed up you can always login to DudaMobile and view your dashboard. From there you can easily select your mobile site and make any edits and save again. You will receive an email with your site URL and additional information on how to access the dashboard.

Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, September 7. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.

Posted by Jade Wang, Google+ Local Community Manager

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Business August 22nd 2012, The "LoyKLASSIC!" Edition

If you were lucky enough to get into the sold-out Business last week, you saw what we have all come to call “The Perfect Business”: Two-and-a-half hours of amazing comedy, surprises, fluid energy and rolling laughter. Now you ask: Will lightning strike twice? Can we repeat perfection? Hell yeah, and you best bear witness lest you miss out on the transcendent and supreme, true believers. This week The Business welcomes Cory Loykasek and Mike Drucker to help us reach the top of the mountain again. Testify!

Cory Loykasek’s flawless golden mane of hair warms a mind boiling with astute and challenging comedy. Cory uses his stand-up, as well as sketch and video work, to approach a variety of topics with grounded profundity, mixed with left-field thought through a layman's lens. Some call his approach casual, but just because you’re laid back in the drivers seat doesn’t mean your not still steering the ship right. He’s a lion of a man: Commanding, hairy and sometime he sleeps in the dirt.

After dropping in as a surprise guest on last week’s “Perfect” Business, Mike Drucker returns again this week to continue what is shaping-up to be a nice little residency here at the The Dark Room. After all: practice makes perfect. You know the stats: Writes for IGN, The Onion, McSweeny’s, SNL, Your Mom and Your Grandma. Terribly talented and horribly funny, he’s the nerd who can turn a word. He’s a gummy bear of a man: sweet, semi-opaque and you’d love to pull his head off and attach it to something else.

Joining these perfect beings are regular Business Employees Bucky, Caitlin, Sean and Alex. We are once again Chris-free this week, both Garcia and Thayer holding it down Hollywood style. But they are easily replaced by a burrito from the neighborhood.

The Business is at 8pm, the perfect time for comedy. We are still just the perfect price of $5,

PrideBites learns which dog toy features matter most to owners

Google Consumer Surveys helps you make informed business decisions by asking internet users survey questions. Users complete questions in exchange for access to content around the web, and content publishers get paid per answer. Google automatically analyzes responses, providing the data through a simple online interface. Below we share the experiences of one of our customers, PrideBites, a manufacturer and distributor of high quality, durable dog toys with unique designs.

The four founders of PrideBites first knew they were onto something when their box of 50 trojan-shaped dog toys sold out in under an hour at a USC football game. “They were so different and colorful, but the stitching was still very high quality,” says co-founder Steven Blustein. “It became clear that there is demand for dog toys that hit the sweet spot between design and durability.” As new entrants into an industry with particularly established distribution relationships, PrideBites knew they needed to be smart about how they expanded their product line. “Retailers will always want a cheaper product that has tried and true features. We need to know that we have what consumers really want.”

As a small business, it can be difficult to quickly and affordably access detailed market research. “We had broad statistics about the pet goods industry, but nothing about the demand for rubber versus plush.” Using insights from Google Consumer Surveys, PrideBites could more closely hone in on messaging and feature priorities. Surveys showing that people don’t play with their dogs in the water influenced their decision to de-emphasize waterproof features on the packaging. Similarly, surveys indicating that machine-washability isn’t important to consumers the way it is to retailers helped differentiate the important selling points across audiences. They also validated their hunch that dog lovers value contributions to pet charities, and are now developing ways to support animal welfare organizations.

After completing their first set of surveys, Blustein is excited about the future questions PrideBites will be able to answer using Google Consumer Surveys. “We couldn’t take our eyes off of the results and would love to ask more targeted questions about price thresholds for various demographics, and how long men versus women expect a dog toy to last.”
Joanne Schneider, Consumer Surveys Business Development

Monday, August 20, 2012

So You Weren't An Early Adopter: How to Kick Start Social with Google+

Join social media power influencer +Lynette Young for a look at ways your business can kick start its presence on Google+ in a Learn with Google Hangout on August 23rd at 1pm EDT/10am PDT. RSVP for the Hangout on our Google+ Event page.

Companies big and small are using social media to interact with customers and build digital brands. Even if your business wasn’t an early adopter of social, Lynette will guide you through ways to kick start this channel with Google+. In this hangout, she’ll talk through examples of businesses using hangouts, pages and unique content to grow their audience. As a Learn with Google program, you’ll also hear lots of tips and strategies you can use to build a community from scratch on Google+.  

Lynette Young is a digital media specialist helping entrepreneurs and businesses put social ideas into action. She is the founder of Women of Google+ and CEO of Purple Stripe Productions. Kari Clark of the Google+ Marketing team will moderate the conversation with Lynette and other social media specialists including:

We hope you can join us to begin using Google+ for your business. If you have a question for the panel, leave your questions as a comment on our Google+ Event. 

To get yourself geared up for the hangout, check out the two newest Google+ business case studies. Toyota Global has been engaging its Google+ community with content of the latest car models and a hangout with a Toyota engineer. By incorporating Google+ badges on its website and YouTube channel, the car manufacturer has grown to over one million followers. In the education space, ES Corporation is teaching English lessons in hangouts. Using social extensions, the business also saw a 46% increase in click-through rate on search ads.

Contemporary Trends Change Magazine and Newspaper Printing Markets

The markets of magazine and newspaper printing firms are undergoing significant changes, reflecting on-going transformations in the customers they serve.

Some of the changes have been under way for 2 decades with traditional printing companies morphing into printing service companies offering more profitable value-added services and products.  These included high-end specialized printing capabilities and services, database printing, and wide-ranging distribution services. At the same time, the increasing number of magazine titles, accompanied by lower average press runs, pushed the companies toward higher efficiency and acquisition of presses and systems designed for lower press runs.

In this environment, many printers could not effectively compete and consolidation began creating large regional players in the industry.

Shorter-term trends have also played havoc with the printing industry by killing off some magazine and newspaper titles, lowering the average number of pages printed because of advertising reductions, and by decreasing demand for catalog printing by mail order companies.

These changes created excess capacity and financial problems for many printers, opening the way for private equity firms to purchase trouble companies, restructure their operations, and consolidate the industry even further. Walstead Investments, for example, bought the St. Ives Group, Southern Print and Wyndeham in the UK to do just that.

About the only bright spot for the printing industry has been that many newspapers have now decided to outsource printing—increasing the number of customers in that segment for the short term, at least. Even some large newspapers that had given up commercial printing decades ago have changed the size capacity and flexibility of their presses to gain more production options and they are now offering printing services to other publishers and advertising service firms.

The consolidation has allowed big players to grow bigger. Donnelley has expanded by acquiring firms across North America.  Quad/Graphics has moved into Europe and Latin America. The German publisher Guner & Jahr acquired Brown Printing in the US and Prisma Presse in France.

The current economy is limiting the ability of these firms to push up prices, but one can expect that to occur when better times return and capacity utilization increases.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air: How to structure your account to optimize for website lead generation

Editor's note: This is our first post in a series on SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air, where experts on the AdWords support team are hosting short Hangouts on Air to walk SMBs through AdWords-related topics. Here on the Google and Your Business Blog, we'll be providing a wrap-up of the Hangouts. This particular post is cross-published from the AdWords Google+ page. To learn more and see the schedule for upcoming Hangouts, check out the AdWords blog.

AdWords Specialists Will Lindemann, Sarah Green, and Divya Vishwanath hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the first installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.

We shared some awesome optimization tips for lead generation sites — how to format your website, how to use features like conversion tracking and remarketing, and how to write effective ads. If you missed it — don’t worry! — you can watch the full 30-minute Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel.

Earlier in the week and during the Hangout, we collected your questions. Here are a few things we addressed:

Can you match conversion data to a specific customer?
In accordance with our privacy policies, you can’t exactly match conversion data to a specific customer, but you can drill down to figure out exactly which keyword, ad, ad group, and campaign yielded the conversion. That information is really powerful to use in modifying your ads/keywords and adjusting your bidding strategy.

What’s a good conversion rate?
Conversion rate is relative based on industry and business; there’s not a hard-and-fast benchmark for the metric. In determining a good conversion rate, consider whether or not you’re getting good ROI from your advertising endeavors. In addition to conversion rate, cost-per-conversion is also a useful column to enable on your reports in order to compare to profit on an average sale and determine whether or not your advertising is advancing your bottom line.

How do you import Google Analytics goals into AdWords? What if I only have the option to import a few goals and not all of them?
If you don’t have the option to import all your Analytics goals into AdWords, it’s usually because an AdWords click hasn’t resulted in that specific goal completion. Here are other requirements for importation that you’ll want to make sure you’ve completed.

In thinking about account structure, would you set negative keywords on the campaign or ad group level?
It depends. If there are keywords like “free” or “jobs” that you don’t want triggering ads in the whole campaign, then set the negative keyword at the campaign level. If there are keywords that you want triggering ads in one ad group but not another, set the negative keyword at the ad group level. You can also set up negative keyword lists and apply them to multiple campaigns (more info here).

Do you have any ideas for increasing the volume of impressions received?
Depending on your larger advertising aims, expanding your targeting to the Google Display Network or increasing the bids on your search keywords could increase the volume of impressions you receive. We’ll be talking about optimizing for brand awareness in our next Hangout on Air, so you should tune in for more ideas!

To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday August 30, when we discuss how to optimize your account for brand awareness. Other Newbie topics in the pipeline include driving e-commerce sales, driving phone traffic, driving local traffic, and gaining video exposure. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Business August 15th 2012, The "Karmel Coated Kinane" Edition

Our guests this week are so great we could just EAT THEM UP. Since we can’t literally devour them, here are some quotes about things they have eaten in the past:

Mr. Ian Karmel on delicious things enjoyed on recent travels:

“I had cheese steaks in Philly, BBQ in Austin, breakfast burritos in Austin and Panda Express in the Mall of America... but the best thing I had on the whole trip has to be the Juicy Lucy in Minneapolis, a hamburger with cheese INSIDE of it. WHAT!? HOW? Dark magics, only explanation.”

Mr. Kyle Kinane on accidentally eating a chocolate chip cookie with bacon in it:

“Yeah, it was disgusting at first, but it got better the more that I ate it.”

These two are making the Business their dessert after some seriously sexy Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (http://
event/263704) where they will be battling a few of your Business regulars for erotic supremacy.

We are happy to welcome Ian Karmel. Ian came from an improv background, which included time with The Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Ian was honored as the 2011 Funniest Person in Portland, won the 2010 Portland Amateur Comedy Competition and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, Portland’s Helium Comedy Club, Philadelphia’s Helium Comedy Club, Austin’s Cap City Comedy Club, Seattle’s Comedy Underground and Los Angeles’ Comedy Store. In addition to stand-up, Karmel has appeared on television, playing a character in IFC’s sketch show Portlandia and as a post-game analyst and commentator for the Portland Trailblazers.

Friend of the show and Iron Comic CHAMPION Kyle Kinane will join us as well. Kyle Kinane has been up and at it for almost half his life, mostly searching for what "it" might be. He has performed in the Leicester, Vancouver, Washington D.C., Portland, Just For Laughs/Chicago and the USCAF/Aspen comedy festivals, and has been on the TV via "Last Call with Carson Daly," "The Very Funny Show" on TBS, "Live at Gotham," "Comedy Central Presents" and "The World Stands Up" on the BBC. He was called "bleak and misanthropic" by the London Evening Standard, which he still feels may be a compliment.

We are also very pleased that Chris Garcia and Alex Koll have returned from their adventures to join us this week. There is still a Chris Thayer sized hole in our hearts, but he would want us all to enjoy the show even though he can’t be here.

Don’t miss this one! Get your $5 and print out a coupon so you can bring a friend.

The Business sells out. With this line up, the Business will SELL OUT. Get there on time and BYOBurrito.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five Tips to Become a DataViz Wiz

Editor's note: We're starting a series where we share general tips for business owners. This post is written by Cole Nussbaumer from Google's People Analytics team, who has a passion for storytelling with data.

Communicating effectively with data is a challenge many businesses face. There are opportunities to tell compelling stories with data, yet the strategic advantage that can be gained through good communication is often missed. In some cases, data isn’t used at all when it could help make a stronger point, while in other cases the data that is included confuses more than it informs.

Why does this happen? No one really teaches us how to tell a story with data, so we end up relying on our tools to understand best practices. And our tools often lead us in the wrong direction. The next time you find yourself needing to communicate with data--whether as part of a business plan, to communicate to your customers or stakeholders, or for some other purpose, consider follow these five tips for success:

1. Keep your audience top of mind. Everything you’re doing is for your audience, so keep who they are and their needs in mind throughout the process, from figuring out what you want to communicate, to determining what data to show, to deciding how to show it, where to draw attention, and what story to form with it. Make it extra clear to your audience what’s in it for them, what you want them to know, and why they should care.

2. Choose a visual format that makes sense. Line graphs are great for showing trends over time and bar charts are good for comparing categorical data. Pie charts (and area charts in general) are hard for people to read because our eyes don’t naturally do a good job measuring angles and areas, so be cautious when using them. When choosing between a common chart type like a bar chart and something less common, my recommendation is generally for the common chart. It means less of a learning curve for your audience so they can more easily grasp the information you’re providing.

3. Resist the temptation to dress up your data. 3D, meaningless color, background shading: these distract from your data by adding clutter without adding informative value. When you’ve found the right angle -- the right way to make your data compelling for your audience -- there’s no need to dress it up because the data itself becomes inherently interesting.

Use this:

Instead of this:

4. Draw attention to the important parts of your visual. Color, size and position on the page are some of the easiest and most powerful ways to draw your audience’s attention to different parts of your visual. Don’t use color just to make things colorful; use it sparingly and strategically to draw your audience’s attention to where you want them to focus. If something is more important, make it big and place it in a higher priority place on the page (since in Western cultures most people read left to right and top to bottom, the top left of the page is precious real estate--make it count!). Also think of using color and size to create a visual hierarchy on the page. This is a way to let your audience into your head via visual cues so they know what is most important and where they should focus first, second, and so on.

5. Tell a story. Stories have a way of focusing your audience’s attention and helping them understand why the data you are showing is relevant and important. I think of stories in terms of plot, twists, and ending: the plot is the context that is essential for your audience to know, the twists are the findings and what make your story compelling, and the ending is the call to action--what you need your audience to know and do. If you have a recommendation, state it clearly in words in your communication.

When used well, data can add credibility where we lack it, impart new knowledge, persuade people to support your vision, demonstrate impact, or help convince someone to take action. But it is not enough simply to show data; rather, I challenge you to use the tips outlined above to tell a story with data.

Ready to try it out? Learn more about creating charts and graphs using Google Spreadsheets and how you can customize them based on our tips. For related info, check out

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: Google Consumer Surveys

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we talked about Google Consumer Surveys with Product Manager Paul McDonald. We learned about how businesses of all size can have access to market research using Consumer Surveys. Paul answered questions throughout, and we went through a sample survey to demonstrate the data acrobatics available.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

How long until I start seeing responses, and how much do Consumer Surveys cost?
You can expect to begin seeing responses immediately, with full completion within 24-48 hours. It costs $0.10 per response for a representative sample of the U.S. population and $0.50 per response for demographic targeting.

How does the demographic targeting work?
Like many ads on the web, Google Consumer Surveys reports on the inferred age and gender of anonymous respondents based on the websites users visit and location based on IP addresses. Income, and urban density are then approximated using census data for particular geographic regions. To see what inferences are associated with your browser, visit

All responses are anonymous and collected in aggregate. Read more information about Google’s privacy policy here.

Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, August 22. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Learn with Google Webinars Help Make the Web Work for You

(Cross-posted from the AdWords blog.)

It’s almost back-to-school time, but students aren’t the only ones who are getting geared up to learn. Today, we’re announcing our next series of Learn with Google webinars, which will arm you with the tools you need to get the most out of Google’s advertising products and solutions. Over the next couple of months, 13 webinars will teach you tips and how-to’s to help make the web work for your business.

Join us as we kick things off this Thursday, August 9th with a webinar on multi-channel attribution and check out the full schedule below:
  • Aug 9 at 9am PDT Multi-Channel Funnels: Attribution Across Channels
  • Aug 23 at 10am PDT How to Kick Start Social with Google+ (Hangout on Air)
  • Aug 28 at 10am PDT Optimizing your Video Ad Campaigns
  • Aug 29 at 10am PDT Google+: Enhancing Marketing and Making Social Accountable
  • Sept 5 at 10am PDT Go Bigger, Faster with AdWords Editor
  • Sept 6 at 10am PDT Making the Most of Recent AdWords Updates
  • Sept 12 at 10am PDT Driving Cost-Effective App Downloads with AdWords
  • Sept 13 at 10am PDT Go Bigger, Faster with AdWords Scripts
  • Sept 18 at 10am PDT Better Together: Combining Targeting Strategies in Display
  • Sept 19 at 10am PDT The Importance of Search Advertising
  • Sept 20 at 10am PDT Measuring the Impact of Online Advertising on Offline Sales
  • Sept 26 at 10am PDT GoMo: Mobilize your Site and Maximize your Advertising
  • Sept 27 at 10am PDT Optimizing Display Campaigns: Tips, Tricks, & Tools
Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. We’ll be adding new webinars as they’re scheduled, so check back regularly for updates. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by adding our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to your own Google calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars.

Whether your goal is to engage the right customers in the moments that matter, make better decisions, or go bigger, faster, we hope that you’ll use these best practices and how-to’s to maximize the impact of digital and grow your business. We’re looking forward to having you in class at an upcoming Learn with Google webinar!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Business August 8th 2012, The "Yukon Ho to Sacramento!" Edition

There’s gold in these here guests! This week at the Business we welcome comics from lands of great riches. Two Canadians and two Sacramentans (Sacramentese? Sacramenti? Sacatomatoes?) will be joining us and presumably teaching us how to use a sluice box to get our own nuggets.

We happen to know Ray Molina is from Sacramento, but when asked he usually responds by saying a "Random City." When asked for a bio, he will tell you "A bio won't make me funnier" but added "my favorite food is mermaid." W
e have fresh mermaid on the grill just for him.

Also coming to us from Sacramento but starting from a humble beginning in Parts Unknown, Johnny Taylor has fought against the struggle and has emerged as an amazing stand-up comedian, humanitarian, and incredibly nice guy. If you asked most people, they would agree with the part about him being a nice guy. He is also attractive and loves cats.

And now the Canucks!

“Julia Hladkowicz is not only pretty, but super funny!” This blonde dynamo is a rising star at YukYuks and just landed a US National commercial for Lindt Chocolate with tennis icon Roger Federer. This year she showcased at LAFF (Ladies are Funny Festival) in Austin, Texas, was a semi-finalist in The Great Canadian Laugh Off, and performed with Comedy Records at NXNE.

Matt O’Brien is one to watch in the Canadian comedy circuit. In 2010 he was named Canada’s Next Top Comic by XM Radio and was featured at the Global Comedy Festival in Vancouver. In 2011, he filmed his first Comedy Now! special for the Comedy Network at the legendary Masonic Temple in Toronto. He has headlined and performed across North America, selling out shows at Yuk Yuk’s, The Improv, The Punchline, The Comedy Store, The Comedy Mix, Absolute Comedy, and Second City with his brand of high energy story telling.

Your Business regulars are still all glowy after an EXCELLENT Business LA with Guy Branum and Bobcat Goldthwait. Chris Garcia, Chris Thayer and Alex Koll are still off in the wild. Sean Keane, Bucky Sinister and Caitlin Gill will be there holding down the funny fort.

Come join us! $5 gets you in.  BYOBurrito cause we probably won’t share ours.

NBC's Olympic Coverage Shows Audience Expectations Aren't in Its Cross Media Strategy

NBC’s Olympic coverage in the U.S. reveals the conflict media companies face as they try to simultaneously manage traditional media delivery and digital distribution.

The company is getting it right with the traditional broadcasts, garnering excellent audiences and more than $1 billion in advertising—a figure that surprised even its most optimistic executives and may allow the broadcaster to break even on the games which have traditionally been a loss leader for the company.

The company is also giving audiences more coverage than every before by streaming additional content on cable channels and digital live streams. These are provided on platforms that consumers have come to expect will give them the power to choose when, where, and on what device they will be viewed.  

In order to support its traditional, advertising supported services, however, NBC has used tape delays on the broadcast services and has excluded many sports or blacked them outs on live streams—angering millions of consumers and setting off one of the greatest storms of criticism in the history of social media.

In trying to put its feet in both distribution markets, NBC is forcing the digital community to live by broadcast rules and in doing so has disrespected the audience and norms of cable and online platforms. The result has been widespread audience frustration and anger.
The only thing keeping audiences from going elsewhere are the exclusive national rights and the fact that most users don't have enough technical skills or inclination to bypass the ISP-based protections against streaming material from other countries. 

Hopefully, NBC will learn from the experience and get the formula better for the 2016 Olympics.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wrapping up your intern’s summer experience

August means that the summer is almost over, and if your business had interns, they are likely about to head back to school. Unlike a general student employee, an internship may not continue into the fall and your intern may end up somewhere else next summer. In short, as the summer wraps up you’ll want to make sure that your interns got the most out of their experience at your business.

Let your interns share their work
A great culmination of an internship is letting interns showcase everything they’ve been working on and what they’ve learned. Set up time where interns can present their projects not only to their manager, but also to other employees at the business. This lets interns receive valuable feedback on their work and communication skills from people with varied career experience, and creates a final product to help capstone what they learned.

Help craft an intern’s portfolio
Sometimes internships involve working with confidential projects or data, and it can be difficult to know how to describe the amount and impact of the work an intern accomplished without revealing anything. Tell interns what numbers and information they can share externally.

Suggest that interns record all of the projects they completed over the summer so they remember them in the future. If an intern already started updating their resume, review what they wrote to help make sure they’ve pitched their work well. If they haven’t, share what you think some of their most impressive accomplishments were and what they might want to highlight.

Provide a formal evaluation
If your business has an evaluation tool for your employees, use the same one for interns. Being evaluated lets interns know what their strengths and weaknesses are so they can improve moving forward, and also provides a taste of what they’ll encounter with a real job. Plus, it will be helpful to have performance documented so you can easily remember someone’s work if you’re asked to be a reference later on.

Be a resource for the future 
If your intern did a really great job, make sure to let them know! If you’re willing to write a letter of recommendation, tell them--knowing they already have a supporter is a lot less stressful for them than asking for a recommendation cold.

Even though your intern may not be returning to your business next summer, you’ve already invested time into teaching them. Offer to answer questions they may have in the future about your industry, interviewing, job searching, etc. You’ve spent time working with your intern and are familiar with their interests and strengths, so by drawing on all your personal experience you can offer a lot of beneficial insight into a student’s career even after the summer ends.

The Daily’s rocky performance shows legacy brands create digital advantages

The News Corp’s launch of the tablet newspaper The Daily in February 2011 was heralded as the future of news and revealing opportunities for major new entrants in the news market. After a year and a half of operation, the digital newspaper has lost more than $30 million, managed to gain only 100,000 subscribers—not a trivial amount but low for a global player, and has just announced that it is cutting 1/3 of its editorial staff and ending original production of sports news and commentary.

Journalistically The Daily is not a bad news product and its app is facile and effective. So why hasn’t it been more successful? The fundamental problem is that the digital-only paper has been overshadowed by the success of legacy print newspaper brands in the market for digitally delivered news.

The Daily has never been so brilliantly written and edited that it could gain the significant attention and acclaim needed to overcome the brand advantages of legacy news providers. Major newspaper—such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Financial Times—have used the strengths of their reputations and brands to make the largest inroads in digital subscriptions. Concurrently, larger
local and regional players have also been grabbing paid digital customers in their markets and providing additional competition to the digital startup.

The Daily has also had to compete with widespread availability of free digital news from news providers such as, and aggregators such as Yahoo! and Google. These have all been successful in attracting consumers who are less attached to print news providers and paid services.

Those who predict the demise of legacy newspaper companies often forget the critical importance of the credibility and trust those companies have with news consumers and many assume that print organizations cannot transform themselves into digital players that may become so successful they may one day drop their print editions. 

Brands are important for habitual news consumers and they tend to be highly loyal consumers of specific news brands. The Daily has been unsuccessful in breaking that loyalty, but more successful in creating relationships with persons who have not been strongly bonded to legacy brands. It remains to be seen whether News Corp. will be willing to maintain a relatively small news digital brand among its holdings, even if it manages to move The Daily into operating profitability.