America’s businesses are growing. The web is helping.

Michael Edlavitch was a middle school math teacher in Minnesota when he started a website with free math games to engage his students. With free online tools, a passion for math and an initial investment of just $10 to register his domain, www.hoodamath.com was born. Eventually Michael’s website became popular with more than just his students. So Michael gave Google AdSense a try as a way to earn money by placing ads next to his content. As word spread and traffic grew, the revenue generated from his site allowed Michael to devote himself full time to Hooda Math. Today, www.hoodamath.com has more than 350 educational games and has had more than 100 million unique visitors to the site. Beyond building a business for himself, Michael is helping students everywhere learn math while having fun.

Over in New York, Roberto Gil designs and builds children’s furniture—loft beds, bunk beds and entire custom rooms. Casa Kids’ furniture is custom designed for the family to grow along with the child. Roberto works out of his Brooklyn workshop and doesn’t sell to large furniture stores, which means the Casa Kids website is an essential tool for him to connect with potential customers. To grow even further, Roberto began using AdWords in 2010. In the first few months traffic to his site went up 30 percent. Today, two-thirds of his new customers come from Google. Meet Roberto and learn more about how he’s making the web work for Casa Kids:



These are just two examples of how the web is working for American businesses. According to a McKinsey study, small businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast as those that aren’t on the web. That’s because the web is where we go for information and inspiration—from math games to practice over the summer to someone to design and build that perfect bunk bed for your kids. Ninety-seven percent of American Internet users look online for local products and services. Whether we’re on our smartphones, tablets or computers, the web helps us find what we’re looking for.

Here at Google, we see firsthand how the web is helping American businesses grow and thrive. Through our search and advertising programs, businesses like Casa Kids find customers, publishers like Hooda Math earn money from their content, and nonprofits solicit donations and volunteers. These tools are how we make money, and they’re how millions of other U.S. businesses do, too.

In 2012, Google's search and advertising tools helped provide $94 billion of economic activity for more than 1.9 million American businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits. This represents a 17 percent increase from 2011. Check out the impact made in each state, along with stories of local businesses using the web to grow.

Whether it’s building skills or building furniture, Google helps to build businesses. We’re thrilled to be part of such a vibrant industry and are committed to continuing to help make the web work for people and businesses everywhere.

Celebrating 10 years of shared success

Ten years ago we launched AdSense to help publishers earn money by placing relevant ads on their websites. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation as AdSense went live that first day. Our small team huddled together in a cramped conference room, and right away we saw that publishers were as excited about AdSense as we were.

Fast-forward 10 years, and AdSense has become a core part of Google’s advertising business. The AdSense community has grown to include more than 2 million publishers, and last year alone, publishers earned more than $7 billion from AdSense. AdSense is a community that thrives because of all the content creators we are so fortunate to partner with. Their stories inspire us to do our part to make AdSense great.

On this occasion, it’s especially inspiring to hear the stories of partners who have been with us since the very beginning—like a retiree in New Zealand who was able to pursue her dream of writing about her garden, a tech support expert in Colorado who can spend more time with his kids, and a theme park reviewer who now sends employees around the world to test and review rides—all thanks to money earned from AdSense.

As part of our 10th anniversary celebration, we hope you’ll tune into our live Hangout on Air today at 10 a.m. PDT (5 p.m. GMT) on the AdSense Google+ page. I look forward to joining several of our partners to share stories from the early days of AdSense, talk about how we’ve all grown since then, and discuss the future for publishers and online advertising. And if you want even more 10th anniversary celebration, just visit our AdSense 10th anniversary page at any time.

Art, Copy & Code: sending kisses around the world

Thanks to modern technology you can connect with your loved ones by sending a quick note, a photo of your cat, even a smile :) around the world in seconds. But one of humanity’s most iconic forms of communication—the kiss—has been left out in the cold. Now, though, you can send a kiss to anyone, anywhere in the world, through Burberry Kisses, a new campaign from Burberry and Google. And not just any kiss, but your kiss.

To get started, simply visit kisses.burberry.com and pucker up in front of your webcam (this works best on Chrome). Using unique kiss-detection technology, the site will detect the outline of your actual lips, which you can choose to dress up with a Burberry lipstick color. If you’re using your touch screen mobile or tablet, you can actually kiss your screen (you might want to wipe it off first) and your lip outline will be taken from there. After that, write a short message and send it to someone from your Google+ friends list or via email. Then sit back and see the envelope with your message fly from your city to the receiver’s destination across a 3D landscape. The receiver gets an email, from which they can see the same journey, read your message and hopefully respond with a kiss of their own.



For an example, see this message I sent to my mom this morning. All the kisses being sent around the world can be seen in a real-time interactive map, capturing the story of the world’s love. You don’t have to kiss and tell: all kisses are private unless you choose to share.


Burberry Kisses is the latest campaign in our Art, Copy & Code project, an ongoing series of brand partnerships to re-imagine how brands tell stories in a connected world. With this project, we’ve tried to create a beautiful experience that comes to life across all screens, and helps connect you to the people who are important to you, wherever they are. For more details on the campaign, see our agency blog or visit our website.

Think Insights: Marketer data, information and inspiration just got a new address

Today marks the debut of the new Think Insights, Google’s hub for marketing insights and inspiration for advertisers and agencies. On google.com/think, you can learn about the latest research in digital marketing, be inspired by creative brand campaigns, and find useful products and tools. You’ll also find industry-leading case studies and Google’s latest research, strategic perspectives, interviews with innovators and experts and more—all to help you make the most of the web.

Every week, we’ll feature content that spans industries and interests. Here’s a snapshot of our top stories:

  • In Understanding the Full Value of Mobile, learn how sporting goods industry leader adidas worked with digital performance agency iProspect to understand how mobile drives value beyond mobile commerce, particularly in-store sales. The campaign proved that mobile brought a 680% incremental increase in ROI.
  • The Hyundai Elantra: Driveway Decision Maker campaign lets you watch your favorite Hyundai model drive right to your driveway, using a combination of Google Maps Street View, projection mapping and real-time 3D animation.
  • YouTube Ads Leaderboard shows which YouTube ads most moved audiences this month, through a winning combination of savvy promotion and smart creative strategy; a new list is featured each month.

In our Perspectives section, we tap our own experts—as well as heads of industry, digital visionaries and Wharton professors—to lend their insights and analyses on the topics that matter most to marketers. The Product & Tools section contains information about our products and advertising platforms, as well as Planning Tools like the popular Real-Time Insights finder.

We built google.com/think to help you do it all—stay up-to-date on the latest in digital marketing, arm yourself with data to support your business cases and create inspiring campaigns. Explore the site now, and if you like what you discover, don't forget to subscribe to our Think Letter for a monthly round-up of our most popular content.

Art, Copy & Code: a series of experiments to re-imagine advertising

Last year, we started a program to partner with advertisers and agencies to re-imagine how brands tell stories in a connected world. Project Re: Brief set out to recreate some of the advertising industry’s most iconic, classic campaigns using the latest technology tools. This year we’re expanding that program to work with some of today’s most iconic brands and innovative marketers, in our new project: Art, Copy & Code.

Art, Copy & Code is a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand. Some of these will include familiar brands like Volkswagen, Burberry and adidas—projects developed in partnership with their creative teams and agencies. Others will be creative experiments with innovative filmmakers, creative directors and technologists to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools—including ads, mobile apps and social experiences. Our first partner project is a new social driving experience—Volkswagen Smileage.

Building off their 2012 campaign, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them,” Volkswagen Smileage is a mobile app and web service that aims to add a little bit of fun to every drive, from your daily commutes to holiday road trips. The app measures the fun factor of each trip using a metric called “smileage,” based on signals like weather, traffic, location, time and social interactions (e.g., a long drive on a sunny Saturday afternoon might accumulate more smileage than a morning commute in the snow). You can use it with any car, not just Volkswagens.

Powered by the new Google+ sign-in, you can choose to share Smileage experience with friends and family. For example, during a road trip, photos and videos taken by you and your co-passengers can be automatically added to a live interactive map. The inspiration for the service came from a recent study showing that every day, 144 million Americans on average spend 52 minutes in a car—76 percent of them alone. We wanted to make that time a more shareable experience. Volkswagen Smileage will be available soon in beta—you can sign up on this webpage for early access.


We’ll have many more experiments to share in the Art, Copy & Code project soon—subscribe for updates at ArtCopyCode.com. We’re committed to investing in technology and tools over the long term to help brands and their agencies succeed not just today, but in a digital future that will look very different.

If you’re planning on attending SXSW, stop by the Google Playground on March 9 to see demos of these experiments, or attend our talk on March 10.

M&M’s, Beyonce and Ravens dominate game day searches on Google

This year’s big game was filled with action—brothers battled on the field and a 34-minute-long power outage nearly turned the tide of the game. With all the excitement on the field, we looked online to see what fans across the U.S. were searching for during the game.

Overall, the top trending searches on Google during the game were:
  1. M&M’s
  2. Beyonce
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. San Francisco 49ers
  5. Colin Kaepernick
Other noteworthy trending searches include those about the power outage, which started trending mid-game and ended up ranking eighth out of the most-searched terms during game time. Searches for Beyonce spiked dramatically during her halftime show. And showing that ads drive consumer interest, searches for Chrysler spiked significantly after their fourth quarter commercial.


The most searched team: The Ravens
As they did in the game, the Ravens narrowly beat out the 49ers as the most searched team during the game on Google. The most searched players of the game were Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, David Akers and Jacoby Jones—thanks to his 108-yard kickoff return.

The Harbaugh brothers’ on-field battle has been one of the big stories of the game, so it’s no surprise that viewers took to the web to find more information on these coaches. While John Harbaugh took home the trophy, Jim was the most searched brother on Google.

Game day commercials
Lastly, it’s not game day without the commercials. Fans were seeking out commercials online throughout the game, driving searches for big game ads on Google 55 times higher this Sunday than the same time last week. The most searched for commercials on YouTube were ads from M&M’s, Mercedes-Benz, Disney’s “Oz Great and Powerful,” Lincoln, and Audi. Searches for "Gangnam Style" were also trending on YouTube, along with searches for big game performers Alicia Keys and Beyonce.

This year many advertisers turned to YouTube to share game day ads and teaser videos in the weeks leading up to the game. In 2013, big game ads or ad teasers were watched more than 66 million times on YouTube before game day.


Now that you’ve seen all the ads, vote for your favorite one on either the YouTube Ad Blitz channel or ADWEEK.com now through February 11. The winners of the Ad Blitz will be announced on the YouTube homepage on February 16.

Will you be Monday-morning quarterbacking the game or the ads?

Steel + silicon = business success in Detroit

From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest and are pleased to have Linzie Venegas join us today. Linzie is head of sales and marketing for Ideal Shield, a manufacturing company in Detroit, Mich. that specializes in bumper post sleeves. Based in a city forged in tradition and steel, Ideal Shield has seen great success on the web—a story Linzie tells us in this post. -Ed.

When my great-grandparents moved from Mexico to Detroit in 1917, they were looking for a better life. They had no idea that one day their grandson, my father Frank Venegas, would invent a product and start a business that would help transform their adopted hometown. Thanks to my dad’s hard work and a little help from the web, that’s exactly what Ideal Shield has done.

Ideal Shield specializes in manufacturing bumper post sleeves. You may have seen these around—they’re colorful covers that slide over the steel pipes that keep cars from running into buildings. As a young child, my first job at Ideal was to assemble mailers for potential customers. Our mailers were unique—I would place a pack of jelly beans into each envelope. Talk about a great way to get a high “clickthrough rate!” Today, I head sales and marketing for the company, and we’ve taken our family business online with phenomenal results.

Ideal Shield’s father-daughter team Frank and Linzie Venegas in the factory surrounded by bumper post sleeves and guard rails.

We began using Google AdWords in 2004 to help potential customers find our product because many people didn’t know what it was. We were drawn to AdWords because everyone could see our ads—but we only had to pay for the customers who clicked through to our website. We also found that the leads were very qualified and had a higher close rate than leads from other sources. So far this year, for every $1 we've spent on AdWords we’ve gotten back $22. We’ve been able to have great success—without jelly beans!—using Google AdWords.

The energy we’ve put into our online presence has produced tremendous growth for our business; we’ve been able to grow our workforce by 20 percent. We’ve also focused on building our local community of Southwest Detroit. Each year we hire many interns from the local high school, Detroit Cristo Rey, and teach them skills that will last a lifetime. We’ve outfitted the junior and senior classes at Detroit Cristo Rey with Chromebooks so that they’ll have access to the power of the web anywhere, and many teachers there use the free Google Apps for Education suite with their students. This year, we were proud to hear that Detroit Cristo Rey achieved a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. We also work with the Michigan Minority Business Development Council to teach other small businesses in the community the importance of an online strategy and how the web can help small businesses thrive.

My dad started Ideal with himself, my mother and a couple of laborers; today this family business has more than 35 employees and annual sales of $14 million. With help from the web, his hard work, determination and “out of the box” thinking have made Ideal a symbol of strength and renewal in Southwest Detroit. My father has always told me that if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you. Detroit is our community—it’s our heart, it’s our home. We’ve been surprised and delighted at how much the web has contributed to Ideal Shield, and we’re happy to share that success with Detroit. We can’t wait to do more!



London calling: some reflections on the digital games

The stats are in, and one clear winner from this year’s summer sports has emerged: digital media. Here’s a quick look behind the “screens” at how the web blew records away around the world, at the most wired Games ever.

Searches set a new pace
Mirroring the growth of the web and digital media, Google search volume around the world was dramatically higher this year than during Beijing in 2008:
  • Driven by a 900 percent increase in [ryan lochte] searches, American interest in [swimming] spiked 25 percent higher than 2008 levels.
  • The “Fierce Five” vaulted U.S. searches for [gymnastics] to almost double the 2008 peak.
  • Spurred on by a record-breaking performance by sprinter Usain Bolt, Jamaican searches for [track and field] raced up 40 percent from 2008.
  • Japanese gymnast and first-time gold medalist [kohei uchimura] proved he’s a “superman” in search as well as on the tumbling mat, with search volume in his home country up 420 percent over the last games.
  • Success may have been sweeter the second time around for wrestler [sushil kumar], the first Indian athlete to win an individual medal at successive Olympics, with searches up more than 375 percent from the 2008 games.
Here are a few more search snapshots:

Top Athlete Searches (U.S.) Top Athlete Searches (U.K.) Top Artist Closing Ceremony Searches (U.S.)
Michael Phelps Usain Bolt Jessie J
Ryan Lochte Jessica Ennis Beady Eye
Lolo Jones Michael Phelps Gary Barlow
Usain Bolt Victoria Pendleton Ed Sheeran
Alex Morgan Andy Murray Freddie Mercury

Global streaming goes the distance
YouTube powered the live stream for NBC Olympics and for the International Olympic Committee’s YouTube Channel, making the world’s games even more global and accessible. NBC Olympics saw more live streams than during the entire Beijing Games—more than 159 million total video streams and more than 64 million live streams across YouTube's online, mobile and tablet experiences. In all, more than 20 million hours of total video was streamed over 17 days. And of course, the Games were also streamed on the IOC’s channel (youtube.com/olympic), with tens of millions of streams to 64 countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. We’ll have more details on the YouTube blog soon.

The multi-screen relay
More than ever, people experienced the Games not just via the TV broadcast, but on desktops, mobile phones and tablets. Through research panels conducted in partnership with NBC in the U.S., we learned a bit more about how this played out:
  • Mobile makes a strong showing: Many viewers turned to one or more “second screens” beyond TV to keep updated on the Olympics—nearly half of those who did (44 percent) did so via a mobile phone or tablet.
  • Power viewers: Second-screen viewing didn’t seem to diminish participants’ interest in watching the games on TV...in fact, it increased it. People who followed the Games on TV plus one other screen watched 52 percent more Olympics on TV than those who didn’t; people who followed on two additional screens spent more than twice as much time (105 percent) with TV. And people who watched live streams of events online watched 66 percent more Olympics on television than people who followed exclusively on TV.
  • Synchronized usage: Overall, nearly 56 percent of people who followed the Games on TV and at least one other screen did so simultaneously. These simultaneous viewers also watched TV for 67 percent longer than those who only watched TV.

Gold for digital businesses
Brands who invest in digital marketing to connect with customers grow their own businesses and help make great content possible. A few campaigns that caught our eye:

  • Visa’s global “Go World" campaign invited fans to show their support for Team Visa athletes in the form of cheers across social media. The campaign generated more than 59 million cheers, and Visa’s YouTube channel accounted for more than 47 million views of Visa’s commercials and athlete training videos from around the world.
  • Insurance provider Zurich launched a successful “Share your Sports Moments” marketing campaign on Google and YouTube, featuring members of the German Olympic team. The result: a significant uplift in the number of leads who then signed insurance contracts.
  • Lloyds TSB Bank, presenting partner of the Olympic Torch relay, conducted a successful AdWords campaign that kept pace with the Olympic torch as it passed through towns in the U.K., resulting in more than 190,000 clicks and more than 2 million impressions over three months.

Higher traffic and increased investment in the web also helped online publishers in a big way:

  • In the U.S., across 2 million sites in our Google Display Network and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, ads shown on sports-related websites increased by 19 percent, while revenues (RPMs) for these sites increased by 14 percent, compared to the two previous weeks.
  • Our premium ad serving platform for publishers (DoubleClick for Publishers), which helps some of the web’s largest publishers make money from their content, broke a new record, with one major publisher serving more than 400 million ad impressions in a day across its website and mobile content—driving higher revenues and more free content.

A fun note to end on: showing how the web can fuse data and creativity while opening the playing field, one of our software engineers used Google App Engine to create a “per capita” medal tally (the data is real, the accounting is somewhat creative). On this basis, one country stands above all others—congratulations to the most successful nation of the last two weeks, Grenada!

Project Re: Brief, the documentary

A few months ago, we introduced Project Re: Brief, our experiment to reimagine online advertising. We took some of the most loved ad campaigns from the ‘60s and ‘70s and and brought them back to life for the digital age with the help of the advertising legends that made them in the first place. Together, we created a series of ads designed to start conversations and fire up imaginations about what technology can make possible, such as ads that enable two strangers on opposite sides of the world to connect over a can of soda, or that translate a customer service experience into an instant, shareable, personalized animated video.

But Re: Brief is not just about the ads themselves. It’s also about the creative process behind them: bringing “old school” advertising legends and technologists into the same room to create digital ads that consumers love as much as they loved the iconic campaigns of yesterday. To share this experience, today we premiered the documentary film Project Re: Brief, directed by Emmy winner Doug Pray, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—also available on YouTube.

This hour-long documentary follows the story of the five art directors and copywriters who made the original ads as they come out of retirement to “Re: Brief” their classic campaigns: Harvey Gabor (Coca-Cola’s “Hilltop); Amil Gargano (Volvo’s “Drive it like you hate it”); Paula Green (Avis’ “We try harder”); and Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina (Alka-Seltzer’s “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”). While major shifts in technology have reshaped the advertising business, as we learned from our heroes of the past, the basic tenets of storytelling haven’t changed. We found these icons’ ideas, wisdom and passion for great advertising inspiring and hope you do as well.



For more details on the film and the Cannes Lions festival, visit our Agency Blog.

Ads Integrity Alliance: Working together to fight bad ads

Today StopBadware is announcing the formation of an industry partnership to combat bad ads. We’re pleased to be a founding member of the Ads Integrity Alliance, along with AOL, Facebook, Twitter and the IAB.

Since its beginnings in 2006, StopBadware has enabled many websites, service providers and software providers to share real-time information in order to warn users and significantly eliminate malware (such as viruses, phishing sites and malicious downloads) on the web. We believe that the Ads Integrity Alliance can make a similarly important contribution to the goal of identifying and removing bad ads from all corners of the web.

In 2011, Google alone disabled more than 130 million ads and 800,000 advertisers that violated our policies on our own and partners’ sites, such as ads that promote counterfeit goods and malware. You can read more about our efforts to review ads and also see the numbers over time. Other players in the industry also have significant initiatives in this area. But when Google or another website shuts down a bad actor, that scammer often simply tries to advertise elsewhere.

No individual business or law enforcement agency can single-handedly eliminate these bad actors from the entire web. As StopBadware has shown, the best way to tackle common problems across a highly interconnected web, and to move the whole web forward, is for the industry to work together, build best practices and systems, and make information sharing simple.

The alliance led by StopBadware will help the industry fight back together against scammers and bad actors. In particular, it will:
  • Develop and share definitions, industry policy recommendations and best practices
  • Serve as a platform for sharing information about bad actors
  • Share relevant trends with policymakers and law enforcement agencies
Bad ads reduce trust in the web and in online advertising. The web puts the world’s information at your fingertips and has given everyone a platform to speak, listen, engage and unite. The growth that businesses generate from online advertising has enabled an enormous part of this platform. We think the web is worth fighting for, which is why we strongly support the Ads Integrity Alliance’s efforts to tackle bad actors who seek to damage it.



(Cross-posted on the Google Public Policy Blog)

AdWords, meet AdMob

Mobile advertising has become a core part of marketers’ and publishers’ digital strategies, helping to fuel business growth and great content.

To make mobile ad buying seamless and accessible for more than a million AdWords advertisers, today we're integrating our AdMob technology directly into our AdWords system. This enables advertisers to run effective campaigns across the more than 300,000 mobile applications running ads by AdMob—all from within the AdWords interface. It also helps AdMob developers and publishers increase their revenue by giving them access to a large number of new advertisers. AdWords advertisers can now manage, measure and adjust search, display and video ads, reaching people on more than 2 million websites and hundreds of thousands of apps, across all screens.

Bringing together the best of AdWords with the best of AdMob is an important step in building integrated solutions that help all businesses get the most out of digital marketing. This complements DoubleClick Digital Marketing, our new unified ad platform for larger marketers and agencies who use DoubleClick’s ad technology, which we announced earlier this week.

As mobile usage continues to explode, businesses increasingly need to adapt their marketing strategies to mobile platforms and mobile-specific consumer trends. For more information about how AdWords is helping marketers “go mobile,” read our post on the Mobile Ads Blog.

Reimagining the future of buying and selling ads online

We’re in the midst of an online advertising revolution that makes the consumer the center of all we do—with creative tools to make ads that don’t just inform but inspire and dazzle, and measurement frameworks that go beyond clicks to drive real emotional engagement. The next step is to look beyond the ads themselves and reimagine the entire system of buying and selling ads online in a way that puts users first. Today, at our DoubleClick Insights conference, we’re gathering with our closest customers to discuss how we can partner to accomplish this and to unveil some tools for advertisers and publishers that we think will help us all reach this goal.

In particular, we’re introducing DoubleClick Digital Marketing: the first modern ad platform built for the modern digital world. You can read the details on the DoubleClick Advertiser blog, or watch live. This represents the biggest overhaul ever of our DoubleClick ad platform, used by agencies and large advertisers around the globe for digital media buying. One of the central challenges we’re looking to solve with this effort is that digital marketing is still incredibly complex—with marketers juggling multiple systems to manage their different digital efforts across banner ads, paid search campaigns, mobile ads, online video and measurement using systems that don’t talk to one another. We think of this a bit like an old school ‘90’s stereo system, with separate CD, cassette and radio players and a mess of wires in the back. What we want to provide to our partners should be more like the intuitive, powerful smartphones we carry in our pockets today—which not only play all our favorite music, but take pictures, keep our schedules and more.

Towards this end, DoubleClick Digital Marketing will weave together the technologies that buyers currently use to plan, manage, schedule, deliver and measure their online buys in a way we think will not only help them work smarter and faster, but ultimately be more responsive to their customers and deliver better ads.

For our publisher partners, our focus continues to be on bringing together the best of our products, and those of Admeld, the publisher technology company we acquired last year. So we're announcing some new tools to give publishers greater transparency into their businesses and better ways to work with their partners, for example a new Market View on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange that gives them the big picture of what’s happening across the exchange, rather than just their own performance. We think that ultimately, by empowering publishers’ growth and success and enabling them to continue funding great online content, everyone wins.

For more details on our announcements today, be sure to check out our DoubleClick Advertiser and DoubleClick Publisher blogs throughout the week, or tune in to the live stream of DoubleClick Insights, from 9am-1pm PT today, June 5.

The fight against scam ads—by the numbers

This is the second in a series of posts that will provide greater transparency about how we make our ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads. -Ed.
Last month, I shared an overview of the technology Google has built to prevent bad ads from showing on Google and our partner sites, including our efforts to review accounts, sites and ads. To illustrate the scale of this challenge, today I’d like to provide some metrics that give greater insight into the scale of the problem we’re combating.

Bad ads have a disproportionately negative effect on our users; even a single bad ad slipping through our defenses is one too many. That’s why we’re constantly working to improve our systems and utilize new techniques to prevent bad ads from appearing on Google and our partner sites. In fact, billions of ads are submitted every year for a wide variety of products. We have a set of ads policies that cover a huge array of areas in more than 40 different languages. For example, because we aim to show safe, truthful and accurate ads to our users, we don’t allow ads for misleading claims, ad spam or malware.

Ads that are in violation of our ads policies aren’t allowed to be shown on Google and our AdSense partner sites. For many repeat offenders, we ban not just ads but also advertisers who seek to abuse our advertising system to take advantage of people. In the case of ads that are promoting counterfeit goods, we typically ban the advertiser after only one violation. Here are some metrics that give some insight into the scale of the impact we have had over time, showing the numbers of actions we’ve taken against advertiser accounts, sites and ads. You can see that the numbers are growing—and growing faster over time.

Year Advertiser Accounts Suspended for Terms of Service and Advertising PoliciesSites Rejected for Site PolicyAds Disapproved
2011 824K610K134M
2010 248K398K56.7M
2009 68.5K305K42.5M
2008 18.1K167K25.3M
We find that there are relatively few malicious players, who make multiple attempts to bypass our defenses to defraud users. As we get better and faster at catching these advertisers, they redouble their efforts and create more accounts at an even faster rate.

Even in this ever-escalating arms race, our efforts are working. One method we use to test the success of our efforts is to ask human raters to tell us how we’re doing. These human raters review a set of sites that are advertised on Google. We use a large set of sites in order to get an accurate statistical reading of our efforts. We also weight the sites in our statistical sample based on the number of times a particular site was displayed so that if a particular site is shown more often, it’s more likely to be in our sample set. By using human raters, we can calibrate our automated systems and ensure that we’re improving our efforts over time. In 2011, we reduced the percentage of bad ads by more than 50 percent compared with 2010. That means the proportion of bad ads that are showing on Google was halved in just a year.

Google’s long-term success is based on people trusting our products. We want to make sure that the ads on Google are safe and trustworthy, and we’re not satisfied until we do.

New research shows smartphone growth is global

Last October, we launched Our Mobile Planet, a resource enabling anyone to visualize the ways smartphones are transforming how people connect with information, each other and the places around them.

Today, we're releasing new 2012 research data, and the findings are clear—smartphone adoption has gone global. Today, Australia, U.K., Sweden, Norway, Saudi Arabia and UAE each have more than 50 percent of their population on smartphones. An additional seven countries—U.S., New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland—now have greater than 40 percent smartphone penetration. In the U.S., 80 percent of smartphone owners say they don’t leave home without their device—and one in three would even give up their TV before their mobile devices!


We conducted this research to help people to better understand how mobile is changing our world. You can learn about mobile-specific usage trends, use this tool to create custom visualizations of data and more. There's plenty to discover in the latest research—to dig into new survey data about smartphone consumers in 26 countries from around the world, read our post on the Google Mobile Ads blog or visit http://thinkwithgoogle.com/mobileplanet.

Think Insights now includes research from 21 countries

Whether you’re a marketer in Milan or a planner in Pretoria, you can now get your hands on more Google research and tools to help you better understand your audience and how consumer behavior is changing. Our Think Insights website has just expanded to cover 21 different countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Think Insights can help you understand your customers better, develop your digital strategy, find data to support a business case, stay on top of the latest consumer and industry trends and get insights directly from industry thought leaders. Here are just a few examples of what you can do on the updated site:
  • Access our research library of studies and whitepapers from across 21 different countries. You can search for research by country, sector, marketing objective or media type.
  • Use the Insights MENA tool to explore the media habits of consumers in the Middle East and North Africa, or do the same for consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa with our Insights Africa tool.
  • Watch new videos on the consumer journey, with information on behaviors such as “research online, purchase offline” (ROPO).


Visit Think Insights to see how the site can help you, and follow Think with Google on Google+ for ongoing updates.

Inside view on ads review

This is the first in a series of posts that will provide greater transparency about how we make our ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads. -Ed.

A few weeks ago, we posted here about our efforts in fighting bad ads, and we shared a video with the basics of how we do it. Today I wanted to delve a little deeper and give some insight into the systems we use to help prevent bad ads from showing. Our ads policies are designed with safety and trust in mind—we don’t allow ads for malicious downloads, counterfeit goods, or ads with unclear billing practices, to name a few examples. In order to help prevent these kinds of ads from showing, we use a combination of automated systems and human input to review the billions of ads submitted to Google each year. I’m one of many engineers whose job is to help make sure that Google doesn’t show bad ads to users.

We’ve designed our approach based on a three-pronged strategy, each focused on a different dimension of the problem: ads, sites, and advertiser accounts. These systems are complementary, sharing signals among each other so that we can comprehensively attack bad ads.

For example, in the case of a site that is selling counterfeit goods, this three-pronged approach aims to look for patterns that would flag such a site and help prevent ads from showing. Ad review notices patterns in the ads and keywords selected by the advertiser. Site review analyzes the entire site to determine if it is selling counterfeit goods. Account review aims to determine if a new advertiser is truly new, or is simply a repeat offender trying to abuse Google’s advertising system. Here’s more detail on how we review each of these three components.

Ad Review
An ad is the snippet of information presented to a user, along with a link to a specific webpage, or landing page. The ads review system inspects individual ads and landing pages, and is probably the system most familiar to advertisers. When an advertiser submits an ad, our system immediately performs a preliminary examination. If there’s nothing in the ad that flags a need for further review, we tell the advertiser the ad is “Eligible” and show the ad only on google.com to users who have SafeSearch turned off. If the ad is flagged for further review, in most cases we refer to the ad as “Under Review” and don’t show the ad at all. From there, the ad enters our automated pipeline, where we employ machine learning models, a rules engine and landing page analysis to perform a more extensive examination. If our automated system determines an outcome with a high degree of confidence, we will either approve the ad to run on Google and all of our partners (“Approved”), approve the ad to show for appropriate users in specific locations (“Approved - Limited”) or reject the ad (“Disapproved”). If our automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome, we send the ad to a real person to make a final decision.

Site Review
A site has many different pages, each of which could be pointed to by different ads, often known as a domain. Our site review system identifies policy issues which apply to the whole site. It aggregates sites across all ads from all advertisers and regularly crawls them, building a repository of information that’s constantly improving as new scams and new sites are examined. We store the content of advertised sites and use both machine learning models and a rules engine to analyze the sites. The magic of the site review system is it understands the structure of language on webpages in order to classify the content of sites. Site review will determine whether or not an entire site should be disabled, which would prevent any ads leading to that site showing from any account. When the automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome with a high degree of confidence, we send it to a real person to make a decision. When a site is disabled, we tell the advertiser that it’s in violation of “Site Policy.”

Account Review
An account is one particular advertiser’s collection of ads, plus the advertiser’s selections for targeting and bidding on those ads. An account may have many ads which may point to several different sites, for example. The account review system constantly evaluates individual advertiser accounts to determine if the whole account should be inspected and shut down for policy violations. This system “listens” to a variety of signals, such as ads and keywords submitted by the advertiser, budget changes, the advertiser’s address and phone number, the advertiser’s IP address, disabled sites connected to this account, and disapproved ads. The system constantly re-evaluates all accounts, incorporating new data. For example, if an advertiser logs in from a new IP address, the account is re-evaluated to determine if that new signal suggests we should take a closer look at the content of the advertiser’s account. If the account review system determines that there is something suspect about a particular account with a high degree of confidence, it automatically suspends the account. If the system isn’t sure, it stops the account from showing any ads at all and asks a real person to decide if the account should be suspended.

Even with all these systems and people working to stop bad ads, there still can be times when an ad slips through that we don’t want. There are many malicious players who are very persistent—they seek to abuse Google’s advertising system in order to take advantage of our users. When we shut down a thousand accounts, they create two thousand more using different patterns. It’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse.

We’ve put a great deal of effort and expense into building these systems because Google’s long-term success is based on the trust of people who use our products. I’ve focused my time and energy in this area for many years. I find it inspiring to fight the good fight, to focus on the user, and do everything we can to help prevent bad ads from running. I’ll continue to post here from time to time with additional thoughts and greater information about how we make ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads.

Making the web work for major brands

In the 1950s, major brand marketers, like movie studios and consumer goods companies, embraced television, helping spark a multi-billion dollar industry—and the beginning of TV’s golden age.

One reason these brands invested in TV was the emergence of new measurement tools, like TV ratings and market research, that helped show which ads were reaching the right audiences and having a positive impact.

Measurability is already at the heart of digital advertising—every second, businesses rely on insights from products like Google Analytics and Google AdWords to help them grow.

But major brands are interested in things like “brand recall” (such as whether consumers remember the name of your cereal), and “brand favorability” (whether they think positively about it), rather than just clicks and online sales. The metrics that the online advertising industry uses today aren’t always equipped to tell that fuller story. Many brands scramble together metrics like clicks, ad impressions, and numerous tools and measurement solutions, trying to make sense of them and—some time later—acting upon the insights they can glean.

The lack of these actionable, truly useful metrics is a key reason that many major brands have been cautious in embracing digital advertising over the past decade, even as high-quality content and millions of users have moved online.

We think that a new generation of measurement solutions will help brands quantify the benefits of investing online and will help to fund the next generation of great online content and services.

Today at the Ad Age Digital Conference we’re introducing the Brand Activate initiative, a new effort to re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers and—crucially—to help brands turn measurement into action, immediately. We're working with the industry and supporting the IAB's Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) coalition on this project.

We believe that the industry’s significant investment in these areas can substantially grow the online advertising pie, help major brands invest for growth, and fund new digital content and services.

Read all the details about this initiative, and the first solutions (Active GRP and Active View) on our Agency blog.

Making our ads better for everyone

We believe that ads are useful and relevant information that can help you find what you’re looking for online—whether you’re comparing digital cameras or researching new cars. We also want you to be able to use Google and click on any ads that interest you with confidence. Just as we work hard to make Gmail free of spam and the Google Play Store free of malware, we’re committed to enforcing rigorous standards for the ads that appear on Google and on our partner sites.

Like all other Internet companies, we’re fighting a war against a huge number of bad actors—from websites selling counterfeit goods and fraudulent tickets to underground international operations trying to spread malware and spyware. We must remain vigilant because scammers will always try to find new ways to abuse our systems. Given the number of searches on Google and the number of legitimate businesses who rely on this system to reach users, our work to remove bad ads must be precise and at scale.

We recently made some improvements to help ensure the ads you see comply with our strict policies, so we wanted to give you an overview of both our principles and these new technologies.

Ads that harm users are not allowed on Google
We’ve always approached our ads system with trust and safety in mind. Our policies cover a wide range of issues across the globe in every country in which we do business. For example, our ads policies don’t allow ads for illegal products such as counterfeit goods or harmful products such as handguns or cigarettes. We also don’t allow ads with misleading claims (“lose weight guaranteed!”), fraudulent work-at-home scams (“get rich quick working from home!”) or unclear billing practices.

How it all works
With billions of ads submitted to Google every year, we use a combination of sophisticated technology and manual review to detect and remove these sorts of ads. We spend millions of dollars building technical architecture and advanced machine learning models to fight this battle. These systems are designed to detect and remove ads for malicious download sites that contain malware or a virus before these ads could appear on Google. Our automated systems also scan and review landing pages—the websites that people are taken to once they click—as well as advertiser accounts. When potentially objectionable ads are flagged by our automated systems, our policy specialists review the ads, sites and accounts in detail and take action.

Improvements to detection systems
Here are some important improvements that we’ve recently made to our systems:

  • Improved “query watch” for counterfeit ads: While anyone can report counterfeit ads, we’ve widened our proactive monitoring of sensitive keywords and queries related to counterfeit goods which allows us to catch more counterfeit ads before they ever appear on Google
  • New “risk model” to detect violations: Our computer scanning depends on detailed risk models to determine whether a particular ad may violate our policies, and we recently upgraded our engineering system with a new “risk model” that is even more precise in detecting advertisers who violate our policies
  • Faster manual review process: Some ads need to be reviewed manually. To increase our response time in preventing ads from policy-violating advertisers, we sped up our internal processes and systems for manual reviews, enabling our specialists to be more precise and fast
  • Twenty-four hour response time: We aim to respond within 24 hours upon receiving a reliable complaint about an ad to ensure that we’re reviewing ads in a timely fashion

We also routinely review and update the areas which our policies cover. For example, we recently updated our policy for ads related to short-term loans in order to protect people from misleading claims. For short-term loans, we require advertisers to disclose fine-print details such as overall fees and annual percentage rate, as well as implications for late and non-payment.

Bad ads are declining
The numbers show we’re having success. In 2011, advertisers submitted billions of ads to Google, and of those, we disabled more than 130 million ads. And our systems continue to improve—in fact, in 2011 we reduced the percentage of bad ads by more than 50% compared with 2010. That means that our methods are working. We’re also catching the vast majority of these scam ads before they ever appear on Google or on any of our partner networks. For example, in 2011, we shut down approximately 150,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, and more than 95% of these accounts were discovered through our own detection efforts and risk models.

Here’s David Baker, Engineering Director, who can explain more about how we detect and remove scam ads:



What you can do to help
If you’re an advertiser, we encourage you to review our policies that aim to protect users, so you can help keep the web safe. For everyone else, our Good to Know site has lots of advice, including tips for avoiding scams anywhere on the Internet. You can also report ads you believe to be fraudulent or in violation of our policies and, if needed, file a complaint with the appropriate agency as listed in our Web Search Help Center.

Online advertising is the commercial lifeblood of the web, so it’s vital that people can trust the ads on Google and the Internet overall. We’ll keep posting more information here about our efforts, and developments, in this area.

Re-imagining classic ads for the modern web

This year, digital advertising turns 18. Over nearly two decades, waves of innovation have transformed the medium—it’s come a long way since the blinking banner ads of the early Internet. But we think the most exciting changes are still to come, as marketers and agencies increasingly embrace technology to enable new types of creativity, and build online ads that don’t simply inform, but delight and engage their audience.

For example, what if an online ad could bring together two strangers on opposite sides of the globe? Or let you follow a real-life adventure as it unfolds? We wanted to find out. So we started an experiment, both to celebrate 18 years of online innovation, and to link advertising’s digital future to its storied past: Project Re: Brief.

We started with four iconic ad campaigns from the 1960s and ‘70s from Alka-Seltzer, Avis, Coca-Cola and Volvo, each considered groundbreaking in its day. The advertising legends who made the original ads then came out of retirement to rethink their original “brief,” this time, using the full range of technological tools at their disposal, to reach consumers in today’s digitally connected world.



Here are previews of two of the re-imagined ads:

Coca-Cola
Original Art Director: Harvey Gabor

A Coca-Cola can connect people. This was the idea behind a 1971 ad in which young people from all over the world stood on a hilltop singing, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company.” But imagine being able to walk past a vending machine in New York and finding out that a stranger in Tokyo actually sent you a free Coke. Technology can make this possible by linking online ads to real-world devices, like vending machines, in real time. The new ads let you record a video or text message and send it, along with a free Coke, to special vending machines in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Capetown, South Africa; New York, NY; and Mountain View, Calif. The recipient can also record a message from the machine and send it right back. To see how this ad was brought to life, watch this short film.



Volvo
Original Art Director: Amil Gargano
A Volvo is so durable, you can “Drive it Like You Hate It,” according to a 1962 series of print and TV ads. The re-imagined ads center on the durability of one particular Volvo—that of Irv Gordon, who has had his car since 1966 and put a world-record 2.9 million miles on it, so far. In these ads, you can join Irv on his journey to reach 3 million miles. Starting with colorful stories from his past and a live feed of his car’s odometer, you can interact with him through Google+, and recreate some of Irv’s favorite routes throughout the U.S. on Google Maps. Watch the behind-the-scenes story in this short documentary.



We’ll have more to share from this experiment soon. In the meantime, these are just a few examples of how agencies and brand marketers are harnessing technology to rethink what ads can be and make the web work for them (not the other way around). To learn more about the project, visit projectrebrief.com. And if you’re planning on attending SXSW, stop by the Discovery House at the Google Village to see demos of these campaigns, or attend a talk.

Think fast in the first Think Quarterly of 2012

In the amount of time it takes you to read this blog post, roughly 382 Android phones will be activated, 250,000+ words will be written on Blogger and 48 hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube. The world is moving faster than ever before, bringing us instant access and split-second connections to people and information.

Speed is important in technology, but equally essential in business. Consumer expectations are rising as we learn to take speed for granted; today’s email is tomorrow’s snail mail. In our hyper-real-time world, nanoseconds matter—which means we need to question old assumptions. How will we respond to consumer expectations as the demand for instant access to everything intensifies? How will we keep pace in a world that moves at web speed?

The new Speed issue of Think Quarterly explores these questions and more. Our SVP of Engineering Urs H√∂lzle shares our efforts to speed up the Internet, while Astro Teller, Director of New Products, dreams about the amazing inventions these improvements will unleash. Paul Gunning, CEO of Tribal DDB, talks about the rise of real-time marketing. And journalist Jeff Jarvis wonders if we’re really that fast after all.

We hope you enjoy the issue. Let us know what you think on +Think With Google. And if you’re at CES this week, drop by our Room to Think in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center and tell us your thoughts live. We’ll also host a Google+ Hangout there with Astro Teller, author of Speed of Dreams, on Thursday at 2pm PST.