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Google Public Data Explorer

Google has recently launched a new service called Google Public Data Explorer under Google Labs which offers a visual way to look at and analyze large public data sets on a variety of popular search topics. According to Google, the purpose of the new tool is to make “large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate”. Google, with its access to an immense assortment of information, is in the perfect position to help us with ways to display this information.

Users can play with the data endlessly, filtering it through various metrics and displaying it in different types of charts and graphs. Google claims that it has been using anonymous information from its users’ searches to best determine what sorts of public data are most requested, and then used that to create a list of the most popular data and statistics search topics. Those results will likely continue to inform Google’s process as it integrates more public data into its offerings.

Google Public Data Explorer

The Data Explorer tool includes data from the original three sources Google announced last year — the US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the World Bank — as well as five new data providers including: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), California Department of Education, Eurostat, US Center for Disease Control & US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Currently there are four different choices for visualization styles – bar graph, line graph, map or bubble, and each has its advantage. After choosing a visual style, you can select what data points you would like to see and set variables such as time period.

?The Google Public Data Explorer makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand. You don’t have to be a data expert to navigate between different views, make your own comparisons, and share your findings pretty easily. Take a look at the example I created below. The animation shows internet users (per 100 people) since 1991 in relation to Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) of Malaysia & Singapore.

There is also a video by Google from last year which introduces the idea in detail:

Google Analytics Master Class 2010

Google-Analytics_174x174 Great News for Google Analytics users in Malaysia & Singapore! Google is holding their 2nd Annual Google Analytics Master Class in Malaysia on Thursday, 11th March 2010 at Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. The same event will also run in Singapore on the 9th of March 2010.

I’m very happy to see that Google is finally branching out their events of Southeast Asia in Malaysia. Malaysia’s web community is pretty massive & most of the businesses here that even has the tiniest bit of web presence uses products like Google Analytics.

But sadly even though many webmasters have analytics program installed on their site, they never make the effort to learn to use the data that the system gathers for them. Analytics isn’t all about numbers, it takes you a big step further and tells you more than just how many visitors you got on your site at a given time. Google Analytics can give you valuable insight on your sales, conversion, visitor segments, visitor loyalty, stickiness of your content, achieved goals, Traffic sources, traffic generating keywords/ search phrases, landing page performance and more. In fact the use of Google analytics can be so wide that you can literally use the data to do many unconventional things (if you are creative).

How to Join the Google Anlaytics Master Class, Malaysia & Singapore

If you wish to join the Google Analytics Master Class in Malaysia / Singapore, you can head over to their website and RSVP. Google doesn’t have an office in Malaysia, thus they are using some kind of an event management company that will handle your reservations. I have heard on the twitter-verse that many have signed up already but they are yet to get any confirmation from Google (or the company acting on behalf of Google). So I made a call to the number they specified and they confirmed that they will be sending out the confirmation by end of this week. But looks like they still haven’t hit the limit yet. So you can still sign-up by registering on the respective pages:

Malaysia: https://sites.google.com/site/analyticsmasterclass/malaysia

Singapore: https://sites.google.com/site/analyticsmasterclass/singapore

Agenda & Speakers of Google Analytics Master Class

1:30 – 2:00pm Arrival & Registration

2:00 – 2:20pm Keynote Address
Beth Liebert, Product Manager, Google Analytics

2:20 – 2:40pm The Power of Segmentation
Barbara Pezzi, Director Webmarketing & Ecommerce, Swissotel
Learn how Swissotel leverages Google Analytics advanced segments to truly understand its visitors

2:40 – 2:55pm Google Analytics: Powerful. Flexible. Intelligent.
Stephanie Hsu, Google Analytics Specialist, Google
Google Analytics has come a long way in the last 12 months. Learn what new features now make Google Analytics a truly Powerful, Flexible, and Intelligent measurement tool.

2:55 – 3:10pm Taming the HiPPO
Adrian Tan, Director, Online Marketing Services, clickTRUE
Jeff Shi, Assistant Manager, Campaign Operations, clickTRUE
clickTRUE share their secrets on overcoming the demands of the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO) to drive real value for business

3:10 – 3:20pm Shaping the Funnel
Vinoaj Vijeyakumaar, Customer Solutions Engineer, Google Southeast Asia
Learn how Amari Hotels used Google Analytics goal funnel reports to optimise their online sales flow to generate more reservations

3:20 – 3:30pm Optimising AdWords with Google Analytics Data
Iris Cheng, Google Analytics Specialist, Google Asia Pacific
Find out how Google’s own Google Analytics Specialists optimise AdWords campaigns for increased returns on investment (ROI)

3:30 – 3:40pm Mobile Analytics for Plasa.com
Justin Lee, PointStar
PointStar share their experiences working with mobile analytics and insights for Plasa.com, Telkomsel Indonesia’s community portal

3:40 – 3:55pm Tea Break

3:55 – 4:05pm Optimising Raffles Hotels and Resorts
Vinoaj Vijeyakumaar, Customer Solutions Engineer, Google Southeast Asia
Find out how eMarketingEye have helped Raffles Hotel understand and optimise their AdWords traffic with the help of Google Analytics reports

4:05 – 4:20pm Better Landing Pages with Google Website Optimiser
Jon Stona, Regional Product Marketing Manager, Google Asia Pacific
Test different landing page designs with Google Website Optimiser and get more visitors converting on your site

4:20 – 4:30pm Price Testing with GWO – The Holy Grail of Marketing
Rachit Dayal, CEO, Happy Marketer
Happy Marketer share their experiences price testing for Genopal.com with Google Website Optimiser

4:30 – 4:45pm Boomz! Other Data Sources To Help Your Business Succeed
Madona Michael, Account Strategist, Google Southeast Asia
Learn how to augment your Google Analytics insights with Insights for Search, Google Ad Planner, and YouTube Insights

4:45 – 4:55pm Google Analytics Resources
Dinesh Jain, Google Analytics Specialist, Google India
Inspired to start making full use of Google Analytics? Learn more about the available educational resources

4:55 – 5:05pm 10 Things to do Today
Vinoaj Vijeyakumaar, Customer Solutions Engineer, Google Southeast Asia
Stephanie Hsu, Google Analytics Specialist, Google
By now your mind is racing with the possibilities Google Analytics holds for your business. We’ve distilled everything down to 10 actionable items for when you leave our Master Class

5:05 – 5:25pm Panel Discussion and Q&A
Panelists: Beth Liebert, TBD

5:25 – 6:30pm Networking Session

Event Date & Location

Thursday, 11th March 2010
Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Ballroom A
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 50470

So who is joining me?

Update: An hour after I wrote this post, I received the confirmation email. And I believe most of the people who registered has also received it. They are still encouraging people to sign up. So don’t wait until the last minute, sign up right away.

Google Maps Labs Launched

Google always like to test new features via their Labs. Most of the big Google products like Google Mail, Youtube, Google Search has a Labs section where they usually have a lot of hidden features & gems.

Today I’m really excited to see that one of my favorite Google products – Google Maps has just launched a Labs section on their website where they have already put up about 10 new add-ons.

Like any other Google Labs repository, Google Maps Labs will work as testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime. Google clearly states that these feature may change, break or disappear at any time, so apply them with caution.

How to Enable Google Maps Labs

If you want to enable and browse the Google maps Labs, just visit the main maps page and click the green flask at the top and you get a chance to enable features like the following:

google maps labs screensot

Some of the cool features that is currently available under Google Maps Labs are as follows:

Drag ‘n’ Zoom
With this feature Zooming in on a specific part of the map will become very fast and easy. With a simple click on Drag ‘n’ Zoom button, you will be able to draw a box on the map, and zoom!

Aerial Imagery
Aerial imagery gives you rotatable, high-resolution overhead imagery presented in a new perspective.

Where in the World Game
This is a really fun feature that lets you test your knowledge of world geography! You will have to guess the name of the country from satellite imagery, and try to beat your top score!

Rotatable Maps
Tired of North always being up? Add rotatable map types and give East, West and South a fair go.

What’s Around Here?
This neat feature adds a second search button that searches for “*”, returning the top results in the current view. A great way to browse the map.

LatLng Tooltip
Displays a tooltip next to the mouse cursor showing the latlng directly underneath it.

LatLng Marker
Adds an option to the context menu that lets you drop a mini marker showing the latlng of the position that the cursor was pointing at when the context menu was evoked

…..and many more! Try out the Google Maps Labs today!

Bing Gains Search Market Share (Jan 2010)

Microsoft's Bing - Gains Search Marketing share in January 2010 Bing seems to continuously gain market share (a bit by bit) as the rest of the engines (especially Yahoo) sees a decline. Well, we all know how Microsoft’s Bing is gaining all these market share so easily. They are literally still spending millions on advertising to advertise their engine and go mainstream.

In the month of January, Bing’s share increased to 11.3%, up from 10.7% in December. That’s up from 8.5% a year ago.

  • Google (GOOG) fell to 65.4%, from 65.7% in December, but up from 63% a year ago.
  • Yahoo (YHOO) fell to 17%, from 17.3%. That’s down from 21% a year ago.
  • AOL (AOL) fell to 2.5%, from 2.6%.
  • Ask.com (IACI) gained market share up to 3.8%, from 3.7%.

It seems like if Bing continues to grow at this current rate, they might be able to go pass Yahoo in another year or so.

(Source: Silicon Alley Insider)

Location Based Product Gowalla Launching API

Gowalla is yet another location based product just like foursquare that allows you to record your current  whereabouts and share it with your friends.

On a recent blog post they have announced that from now onwards they will be allowing developers to build applications that uses data from Gowalla in fun and interesting ways. All of the technical details can be found by browsing the API Explorer, reading the Gowalla API documentation, and visiting the gowalla-dev Google Group.

On their official blog, Gowalla Team gave away a couple of cool ideas that uses the Gowalla API:

LunchVote — A social voting system that helps you to decide where/what to eat for lunch.

Gowallahashing — Inspired by XKCD’s Geohashing, a service that algorithmically pick a random spot every day for a given area, to encourage serendipitous challenges and meetups.

Sidebar Badge — A simple way to show off your top ten spots with a sidebar badge for your blog. 

Conference Games — Encourage conference attendees to explore the city and get to know each other by tracking their check-ins and rewarding those who get off the beaten path.

Now that Google Buzz is here which will eventually turn into a more open platform, do you think its worth developing apps/services for Gowalla or Foursquare?

HOW TO: Import a Posterous Blog in WordPress.com

If you have started blogging with a posterous blog for convenience and now thinking of moving to a full-blown blogging platform like WordPress then they have just the right solution for you.

WordPress has just launched a Posterous import feature inside all WordPress.com dashboard. It uses the Posterous API so the import is seamless & easy. Basically all you need to do is, just login to your wordpress.com dashboard and go under Tools -> Import.

There you should see a Posterous importer option. Once you click that a form should appear, type in your Posterous host name, user name, and password in the appropriate fields and hit the Submit button.

Once the importer validates your credentials it will automatically start the import. If everything works out great then you should receive an email from WordPress saying that your import has been successful!

Why would someone want to move from Posterous?

Even though posterous is a great platform to maintain something like a tumblelog, it may not be suitable for mainstream blogging due to some limitations. For instance, Posterous currently doesn’t support javascript which is required to run Advertising programs like Google Adsense or any analytics or tracking program like Google Analytics and so on.

Google Buzz inside Your Gmail

google buzz Earlier today, Google has announced their new social media product called – Google Buzz which can be accessed from the site – buzz.google.com.

What is Google Buzz?

I personally think Google Buzz is Google’s answer to all the social media / micro-blogging sites that are out there, such as twitter, facebook, friendfeed and so on. Buzz is a dedicated page under Gmail which sort of brings status updates, links, videos and other shared features all in one place.

If you have seen/used friedfeed or Facebook’s newsfeed before then this should be a very familiar concept for you. The beauty of the product is that all these will sit right inside your Gmail, thus you don’t have to go to a separate website but just one place where most of us always go to – our email inbox!

Google Buzz and Gmail will sort of share the same contact list. So whoever you send emails to often or friends with via Google chat are to be treated as your friends/contacts in Google Buzz.

Currently Google Buzz can pull data directly from the following services:
– Flickr
– Twitter
– Picase Web
– YouTube
– Blogger
– RSS feeds connected to your Google Profile (e.g. Blogs)

How Does Google Buzz Work?

Google Buzz basically appears as a inbox/page inside your Gmail navigation (you may not see it immediately as it will be slowly rolled out in couple of days). At first Google Buzz will notify you how many people you already be auto-following based on the number of existing Google contacts you have in your Gmail account.

When using Google Buzz you can choose to share Buzz updates publicly or privately on a post-by-post basis. You can easily hand select the posts that you don’t want to be public and only to be shared among groups or individual contacts that you specify.

Here’s how Buzz will look once it’s part of your Gmail account:

google buzz interface

Official Google Buzz Introduction Demo

Google Buzz on a Mobile Device

Google has done some interesting thing with Buzz for mobile devices. First of all, any iPhone and Android users can access Buzz by visiting buzz.google.com on their mobile browsers. There are no dedicated apps for the mobile devices yet. Buzz does a lot of things with location on the mobile. A “nearby” view shows public updates in your vicinity — which is very similar to what Foursquare and Gowalla does. Google Buzz is also nicely integrated with Google Maps. Check out the video below to learn more:

How to Activate Google Buzz in your Gmail?

Google buzz will be slowly rolled out to everyone. So no special activation is necessary. Just keep refreshing your gmail page until you see buzz in the navigation! (Just kidding..)

Conversations About Google Buzz on the Web

Google Buzz Is Google’s Approach to Sharing and the Social Space – LifeHacker

Google’s social side hopes to catch some Buzz – CNet

Google Buzz: 5 Things You Need to Know – O Reilly

Google Adds ‘Buzz’ to Gmail – Wall Street Journal

Morning Buzz: Live From Google’s Major Step Into The Social Spotlight – Techcrunch

Google Buzz in Gmail – Official Gmail Blog

If Google Wave Is The Future, Google Buzz Is The Present – Techcrunch

Google Buzz Launches 150+ Million User Social Network – Marketing Pilgrim

Introducing Google Buzz! GMail Social Sharing – Search Engine Journal

How Google Buzz Validates but Marginalizes FriendFeed – Louis Gray

BREAKING: Google Goes Social with Google Buzz – Mashable

Google Buzz: Google Takes On Twitter, Facebook & Even Foursquare – Search Engine Land

Google Adsense Publishers Received $5.2 billion in 2009

Neal Mohan, Google’s VP of Product Management just published a blog post where he highlighted Google’s continuous effort in helping publishers to make money online via advertising.

He than briefly ran through Google’s three primary ad products:

Google Adsense: Adsense has definitely helped a lot of small-large publishers to monetize their traffic and earn advertising revenue against the content that they produce. In 2009, Google’s AdSense partners, comprising over a million large and small publishers, earned over $5.2 billion through AdSense. Everytime a adsense publisher’s page loads, Google automatically maximizes the revenue in real time by showing the most relevant ad from massive pool of advertisers.

Self Ad Serving System: For big publishers, Google also has systems in place where publishers can self serve the most valuable ad to the advertisers directory in order to maximize the revenue (e.g. Google Ad Manager, Doubleclick DFP)

DoubleClick Ad Exchange – a real-time auction marketplace for display ad space that includes ad networks on one side, and major online publishers on the other. Publishers get to choose which network they want to bid and what ads can appear on their sites and which ad space they make available etc. Google uses

The Ad Exchange puts a large number of ad networks (over 65 at last count, including more than half of the largest 20 networks in the US) into price competition with each other in a real-time auction, instead of using pricing assumptions based on historical data, or trying to negotiate prices upfront (usually at a discount). It chooses the highest value ad from these competing networks at each moment, impression by impression.

Google has also published a PDF file that sort of gives an overview of how it maximizes revenue for its publishers. Do read it if you feel like learning more about how each of the products operate. (But I got to tell you, it doesn’t really contain anything new).

My Two Cents

I really like it when a Googler comes out in the official google blog and tells the world how wonderful everything is. Well I think anybody can say with certainty that Google does everything in their power to maximize the advertising revenue (Duh!). That is exactly what their whole business is built upon. Did they find any other good source of revenue for the shareholders yet? (Nada!)

But I’m curious to know how much of that ‘maximized revenue‘ is actually going to the publisher’s pocket? Didn’t I hear somebody say that Google is going to publish the percentage cut for adsense? Well I certainly don’t see that figure in the blog post of Neal wrote. If a company is truly open (like Google), I think it should give some indication on how much out of the total they are paying their publishers. Don’t you think that the publisher has the right to know that they are getting X%? And they can get X + 2% if they reach a certain level of performance? I believe releasing that information will actually motivate the publishers to work harder and make google more money in the process.

But anyway if you are keen to find out how much that $5.2 billion is out of Google’s total ad revenue, you can just refer to Google’s quarterly reports – Q1 2009, Q2 2009, Q3 2009 & Q4 2009. Just make sure you have your calculator around ;).

BREAKING: Google Launching Facebook/Twitter Killer

Update: Google Buzz Has Launched!

gmail status updater - Google's Attempt to Kill Facebook/Twitter It looks like Google is going after the social media space and launching something brand new tomorrow! Can this be a possible twitter / facebook killer? We all just have to wait until tomorrow to find out!

For now, all we know is tomorrow Google will launch a brand new social feature for Gmail that is likely to allow users to make ‘status updates’ which is a very common thing for people to do on both twitter & facebook. However, unless Google really innovates here, or somehow manages to integrate their social stream with Facebook or Twitter, I don’t really see Google catching up with these big guys anytime soon.

Like Nicholas Carlson says, Google has never really been good with consumer products. In fact Google’s universe is all surrounded by their search product. All the other products that they tried to release such as Social Network – Orkut, Google Video, Gmail never really became mainstream.

But I have to say – they tried, they tried hard! Google made a lot of expensive acquisitions to acquire the user base/technologies of sites that they figured would help them to take a new product mainstream. They acquired Youtube (Video Site), Jaiku (Micro-blogging service), Picasa (Photo sharing), Zingku and many others. A complete list of Google’s acquisitions to date are here. Out of all these products, only Youtube sort of went mainstream in the video space, other than that most of the other services they they have acquired didn’t go anywhere.

So it would be really interesting how they are going to compete with the two social messaging giants – Twitter & Facebook. Facebook is now beyond acquisition as they have become way too big and they are also sort of tied up with Microsoft from the beginning. Twitter on the other hand was rumored to be acquired by Google for some time, but looks like thats not happening too!

John Battelle writes:

Google is simply not understood by consumers to be a place where they can connect with friends and colleagues. If it intends to become that, it has some DNA mutation in its future.

This one is indeed going to be very interesting…


Mashable reports that they have received an invite to the Google HQ for tomorrow where Google is supposedly going to unveil some product innovations in two of it’s most popular products. The event begins at 10:00 a.m. PT tomorrow and honestly i can’t wait to hear what Google plans to announce!

Bloggers Reaction around the Web

Google To Unveil Broad New Social Product Tomorrow – Techcrunch

Google’s ‘Social’ Gmail: Could It Really Work? – PC World

Google to make Gmail a little more social – Cnet

Report: GMail to Add Twitter-esque Feature – Search Engine Watch

Google to Introduce a Twitter/Friendfeed Like Feature for Gmail – The Next Web

Google’s Social Push Accelerates Tomorrow With Gmail Social Stream – Social Times

Google Stream? Google will launch “huge” new social features tomorrow – Download Squad

Google to Add Social Features to Gmail – NY Times

Gmail to Get Social News Feed: Report – GigaOm

Google Going Social…Again? Gmail to Add Streaming Updates – Search Engine Journal

Follow the conversation further on techmeme!

Youtube Music Discovery

youtube music discovery engine

If you like music discovery engines that recommends you new music every time you listen to a song then you will definitely appreciate the new addition in the Youtube Labs – Youtube Music Discovery Project.

This new feature is not only a music discovery tool but also a video playlist maker for youtube. The page has a big search box on top of which says, “Find>Mix>Watch,” and once you enter a name of artist and hit the “Disco” button, the system automatically finds related artist/songs and mixes them on one single playlist for you.

You can enter any music group or artist, and it takes only few seconds before it populates you a nice play list, along with a thumbnail video and a description of the band right on the page. You can find related artists, create a mixtape, and save playlists directly from the page as well. The best part of this Youtube Music Discovery system is it lets you add or delete songs as you are listening to music and watching videos.

So lets say if you search for Pearl Jam, the results that you are likely to get in a playlist are Eddie Vedder & Co., Nirvana and Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Black Crowes etc.

So do you feel like discovering new music today? Try out youtube.com/disco

Google Maps Now Suggests Places

google-maps-logo Google Maps has recently launched a new and nifty feature that automatically makes suggestion to similar places that you may like based on your search query in maps. So if you search for a restaurant that you love, Google maps will automatically suggest other restaurants on that area that you may love.

According to the Google LatLong blog, suggestions to places aren’t based on a specific characteristic. Google uses a “broad set of signals” to deliver recommendations.


Even though this feature is not available in Malaysia/Singapore yet for me to test out, I really feel that this feature will be extremely useful for travelers who are searching for hotels, restaurants or bars in any given area.

Search Engine Land recently pointed out that Google Maps will also be rolling out yet another compelling feature that will enable you view inside of the store. Similar to street views, Google Store Views will allow people to visually walk into the store from Maps. Now that’s cool!

Helvetica Font Shaped Cookie Cutters

Helvetica is probably one of my most favorite font that I use for most of my design work. And its really fascinating to see that there are many other Helvetica lovers out there who has taken their love to the next level!

For those who love to bake & also love the Helvetica typeface, I present to you Helvetica Cookie Cutters by Beverly Hsu.

Helvetica Cookie Cutter E

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What Does Your Search Engine Say About You?

Wunderman recently did a study by surveying 17,000 people and found unqiue profiles and purchasing trends among partisans of the top-three web search providers – Google, Yahoo & Bing.


According to the study, if you are a user of Bing, you’re probably an early adopter, but you also prefer to visit, shop and ultimately make purchases from Walmart when compared with other search-engine users. Google searchers, on the other hand, are customers of Target and Amazon, and Yahoo searchers have a strong preference for wireless service provider AT&T and Sprint.

Advertising Age reports:

The study, being released next week, was conducted by Wunderman (an agency partner of Microsoft), along with BrandAsset Consulting, Zaaz and Compete. It is intended to determine the profile of search-engine-brand loyalists and identify how search engines are changing consumer behavior and helping to build brands.

“It’s going to wake people up because it’s a new wrinkle,” said David Sable, vice chairman-chief operating officer, Wunderman. “What this means if you are managing a brand is that you need to know how consumers relate to Bing, Yahoo or Google and how that reflects on you.”

It is very interesting that the findings sort of indicate that the different search engine consumers has a different perception on the big brands and the search engines really influence their decisions that they make while they are on those sites. The study found different degrees of consumer engagement, from visiting to purchasing, based on the search engine used and the brands and vertical categories studied — automotive, travel, retail and wireless.

Below is a small summery of the findings:

  • Google users are more likely to book a flight online at JetBlue or make a reservation on Hotwire.
  • Google users tend to do research on a Lexus, while Bing users tend to like Toyota cars more.
  • AOL customers feel less intellectual than their peers and are usually 55 and older. They spend their money more responsibly, want to blend in to the crowd, feel like they’ve gotten a raw deal out of life, expect less from their future and, believe it or not, still use dial-up modems.
  • Bing users are middle-aged, highly educated tech-savvy individuals who consider themselves to be average and spend more than 10 hours a week online.
  • Googlers tend to be the average internet Joe. They are usually conventional people yet open to trying new things, believe in following rules and don’t consider themselves any smarter or less intelligent than the person next to them.
  • Yahoo users tend to be 55-plus, reserved and a less-independent group with little faith in imagination. They feel they have little control over their future and are skeptical and cautious of new or untried ideas.

Discussion on Techmeme