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Super Bowl Ads Available on YouTube

Super Bowl XLIV is one of the most important game of the year out of all events on the American sports landscape where advertisers pay millions for a 30 seconds of your time on the big screen.

YouTube has just announced the launch of a dedicated Super Bowl ad channel at youtube.com/adblitz, which will allow viewers to vote on the commercials immediately after they air on TV.

The channel is sponsored by the car manufacturer Kia Motors and is a one-stop shop for everything Super Bowl-related. As soon as the ad is aired on the super bowl, the video will also go out on this particular channel on youtube where everybody can vote and comment. The top rated commercial will be featured on the YouTube homepage on Thursday February 18th.

[Source: Youtube Blog]


Will there be a Google Super Bowl Ad?

super-bowl-adSeveral sources are speculating that, Google may actually have bought an ad spot in the big super bowl game tomorrow.

Google has never spent big bucks on advertising/marketing their products or brand but looks like they are feeling a little bit of pressure from their competitor Bing who has already spent millions on advertising since their launch. Now why do you think they are feeling the sudden pressure? Is it because of the fact that – Bing made a big search deal with Facebook earlier this week which will enable facebook’s 400 million user base to search the web using bing?

According to John Battelle, the ad is going to be Google’s Parisian Love ad that was posted under search stories on youtube. I have embedded the ad below so check it out.

Just when everyone is talking about this possible rumour, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt tweeted this out:

Can’t wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the 3rd quarter (someone said “Hell has indeed frozen over.”) — Eric Schmidt

So there is a high possibility of a Google ad in the super bowl after all! So watch out…

P.S – Google is currently not in the super bowl ad lineup according to a list posted by USA Today.

Update: Techcrunch is speculating that this may be a Nexus One ad. Personally I believe that makes good sense!


Userfly – Web Usability Testing Done Right

userfly Usability TestingI was chatting with a blogger in Singapore earlier this week about web usability and how this particular web usability product called “Userfly” really kicks ass! But after I got back home, I realized I never actually wrote about Userfly on my blog! So I decided to do a quick post about how Userfly can really help any small business / e-commerce site or blog to do usability testing by simply pasting a simple line of javascript code on their site.

What is Userfly?

Userfly is a web usability testing tool that lets you see a ‘screen cast’ of user activity on your website/blog. After you install userfly on your site – you will literaly see what your visitors are doing, where they are clicking just like a movie.

How does Userfly works?

Setting up userfly is very simple! You can register for a FREE Userfly account that is good for 10 screen captures/month. If you require more captures, you can opt in for a 100 captures/month for $10 or 1000 captures/month for $25 and so on.

The beauty of userfly is its very easy to setup on any website. Just grab a simple javascript code and put it on your site and you are done! The user activities will automatically be captured and put under your dashboard, and you can then start playing each captures on your computer and watch exactly how they look at your website. Userfly also provides detailed information on the user’s browser, each page visited, and time spent on each page. Clicking on a particular page plays back the interaction, showing where the user moved his or her mouse and where he or she clicked etc. Once you’re finished watching, you’re prompted to rate the usefulness of the capture. Then, you can decide to keep it or delete it permanently. All videos older than 30 days are deleted automatically in the free account.

I personally used this tool in a couple of e-commerce stores i worked on and the results have been tremendous. By studying the user behavior and how they browse/navigate your site – you can really make a lot of adjustments to increase your Click through rate & sales.

See Userfly in Action

Don’t believe me? Play this video to see Userfly in action!

So what are you waiting for? Signup for your Free Userfly Account now and do a free web usablitly testing on your website.


Tweetbeep – Google Alerts for Twitter

tweetbeep - Google Alerts for Twitter Tweetbeep is an excellent service that sends you an alert by email every time a particular keyword or phrase of your choice is mentioned on twitter. This is an excellent tool for online reputation management and works exactly like Google Alerts.

With the help of Tweetbeep it would be easier for you to keep track of conversations that mentions you, your products, your business or anything that interests you. It comes with an hourly update so that you won’t miss a thing. Another great thing about Tweetbeep is it lets you keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL service like (like bit.ly or tinyurl.com). However please note that the domain alert feature doesn’t come with the free account.

This service has been around for quite a while, if you still haven’t used them – Try it out today!


Yahoo Sponsored Search Improvements 2010

yahoo-search-marketingYahoo will be rolling out two new features for it’s sponsored search program, that will likely give advertisers more transparency & control over their accounts.

Network Distribution Feature: This will let you run ads on Yahoo! search pages, yahoo partners’ sites, or both. If you run your ads on yahoo’s entire network (search & partners), you can now set different bids. This is very similar to how Google Adwords bidding works, where you can choose different bid price for search & content network.

Import Campaign Data from Google Adwords: Since many advertisers are often existing users of Google Adwords, Yahoo is making it easier the Adwords users to bring in their campaign data & settings with them so that they can start at Yahoo more comfortably. Advertisers can import their files by simply clicking the “Import Campaigns” button. Yahoo strongly believes that the the ease of launching campaigns with existing data will encourage more advertisers to use Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Well I have to say that this is indeed a cool feature. Many advertisers doesn’t want to spend the extra time to go through all the steps of setting up an ad campaign. Once yahoo brings out this easy import feature, many adwords advertisers are likely to try out Yahoo’s network.

If you are interested to see how these features will work, check out the video below:



Google Location Based Search Suggestion

If you often search the web on a mobile device like iPhone or Android based phones like (Nexus One or Droid), then you must get annoyed every time you need to make a search for a long keyword. Mobile keyboards are not as friendly as full-sized computer keyboards, so its obviously much harder to type on.

To overcome this problem Google in US has just announced search suggestion feature for all Android power devices and iPhone. The search suggestion feature will match your intended query and give you meaningful suggestion (based on your location) on the fly to reduce the time and effort it takes to submit a search.

Check out the sample screenshot is below:

For instance, when a user in the Boston metro area types “Muse”, suggestions such as “museum of science boston” and “museum of fine arts boston” are provided because these are popular attraction of Boston. On the other hand, users in San Francisco who begin their query with “Muse” will see suggestions for museums in the San Francisco area. By using the device’s current or most recent location, Google now will be able to offer even better, more useful suggestions than ever before.

How to Try Google Search Suggestion

If you wish to try out this Search Suggestion yourself (only available in US currently), go to www.google.com using your phone browser and start typing a query to see the new location optimized suggestions.

Note: Refresh the page if it isn’t working for you for the first time and also make sure that you have turned on “Save recent locations” and “Allow use of device location” under the Settings link on the google.com home page.


Yahoo! Victim of Cyber Attacks in China

Bloomberg just reported that, yahoo may also be a victim of the recent cyber-attacks in china that has pushed Google to make some tough decisions.

Bloomberg writes:

“Yahoo! Inc., owner of the No. 2 search engine in the U.S., was targeted by a Chinese attack similar to the one that affected Google Inc., according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Well, Google did say that they were not the only one who were targeted in these attacks. In fact Adobe was very quick to confirm that they were apparently one of those 20 companies who were attacked by the cyber terrorists.

Adobe wrote:

“Adobe became aware on January 2, 2010 of a computer security incident involving a sophisticated, coordinated attack against corporate network systems managed by Adobe and other companies. We are currently in contact with other companies and are investigating the incident. At this time, we have no evidence to indicate that any sensitive information–including customer, financial, employee or any other sensitive data–has been compromised.”

According to a Cyber security firm iDefense, The attackers were simply trying to exploit security vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, which is widely used to create and read documents. The vulnerability in Adobe’s two products could allow an attacker to inject a small piece of code into the computer once a PDF file was opened. Even though Adobe did not directly link this problem with the Google-China attack, they have managed to quickly release a critical patch for this problem on Tuesday.

Microsoft Corp., which operates the other player in the search industry – Bing, said it was not aware of any security issues across its properties. A spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash. software company said in a statement:

“We are aware of the situation involving attacks against the corporate networks of Google and a number of other companies. At this point, we don’t have any indication that our corporate network or any of our mail properties were attacked. We work closely with the authorities and other technology companies like Google on Internet safety issues, and we will continue to actively monitor this situation. As Google and the State Department have indicated, this situation is the subject of an ongoing international investigation, so it is not appropriate to say anything further.”

On the other hand in response to all the allegations & threats, The Chinese government said global Internet companies are welcome in the country provided they obey laws that restrict their content.

“The Chinese government administers the Internet according to law and we have explicit stipulations over what content can be spread on the Internet,” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a regular briefing in Beijing today.”

A separate Chinese government official today defended the nation’s right to censor the Internet.

“Effective guidance of public opinion on the Internet is an important way of protecting the security of online information,” Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, said in a question-and-answer session with reporters, a transcript of which was posted on the office’s Web site today.”

So basically what I feel is despite of Google’s threat, the Chinese government will never allow Google to display uncensored search results in Google.cn. So basically its pretty safe to say that we may be seeing the end of Google China. But it would be interesting to see whether the Chinese government would want to keep the other google products running, such as Gmail, Google Maps etc.

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Google Cloud Storage

google-logoGoogle has just announced that within few weeks they will allow Google Apps users to upload, store and organize any types of files in Google Docs.

So this basically means, Google is sort of starting to join the cloud storage business like Amazon S3 which has been an incredible lifeline for many startups to kick start their online venture.

This announcement also reminds me of the “GDrive” that many people speculated would come true. Well gentlemen, this is your Gdrive, but google is just not calling it that yet! As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no file type restriction on your uploads as long as each file is below 250 Megabytes.

Google writes:

“Instead of emailing files to yourself, which is particularly difficult with large files, you can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You’ll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don’t convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year,”

I totally understand why Google may be interested in providing cloud storage. After their announcement of Chrome OS, i’m sure many of you have actually thought about cloud computing from a personal perspective. The success of Chrome OS depends a lot on the online cloud based services & overall value that Google can provide. Since pretty much all the things that you can and would do on your Chrome OS is online-based, Its perfectly logical for Google to start a cloud storage service where people can keep their files for easy access. But i still don’t know whether attaching it with Google Docs is a very good idea. They should have kept Google Docs only for documents and probably could name their cloud storage service something else. But anyway we will see how this goes.

Google Enterprise blog has shared some examples of how you can take advantage of this new cloud storage.

(Image Credit: Google OS Blog)


Free Cloud Backup Service – Backupify

backupify-logo If you live in the cloud like many of us then one of your greatest fear is probably the fear of loosing it all! Just imagine how much data we feed into the cloud everyday — Twitter updates, Facebook Updates, Pictures, Emails, blog and so on. So basically we are trusting many different services and putting all our efforts in their hands assuming that they are going to keep all our data safe forever. But remember, disaster may happen in the cloud as well. For instance, one day you might just login to Gmail account and see that those 999 emails you had before is gone or all the pictures you uploaded on flickr in the last 5 years is just not there any more. What would you do?

Most of the cloud services that we use today are FREE, thus the companies that provide these services offers very limited or no technical support to an ordinary user like you and me! So recovering your data or even getting them to look into your issue may take weeks if not months! So definitely you will need a failsafe so that in case anything happens you will still have your data for restoration or even just for your access.

Backupify has created a very interesting product that lets you backup your personal clouds. No matter where you are and what online services you use, backupify probably has it covered. It currently supports over 15+ online services including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, WordPress, Friendfeed, Flickr, Delicious, Zoho, Google Docs and many more. It is also in the process of including Youtube, Tumbler, Xmarks very soon.

How Does Backupify Work?

Backupify is very simple to use. You sign up as a FREE user (Only until 31st January 2010), and you will get unlimited storage to backup all your data that you have on the cloud. After signing up you will be given the option to add the services that you would like backupify to backup for you Daily / Weekly. You will just need to set this thing up once and this service will keep on backing up your data forever! Did I just say forever? Yes thats right folkes! If you sign up before 31st January 2010, your backupify account will remain FREE for life! However, those of you who join after 31st January 2010 will have to pay a yearly fee.

Backupify Cloud Backup Done Right!

How to Get a Free Backupify Account?

To Register, simply go to: http://www.backupify.com and fill up a small registration form. Make sure that you sign up before 31st January to have a free life-time account.

Some Features of Backupify

  • Backup your data from various web services including Flickr, Twitter, Delicious, Zoho, Google Docs, Photobucket, WordPress etc.
  • You can automatically tell Backupify to backup your data either daily or weekly
  • Your data is 100% safe. Backupify uses Amazon S3 for their storage which has been an industry standard for many years now.
  • You will receive email notification every time a backup is performed. You can also check the backup history from your Account control panel
  • Signup before 31st January 2010 and get a FREE account for life!

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Google May Stop Web Search in China

google-china-search-logoAs you may have already heard by now, Google has recently wrote in their blog that they are going to take a new approach to serve their customers in China. This new approach is nothing but to be ‘open’ as google has always been in every other country (except for china) and stop all censorship for the chinese government.

So what made Google change their strategy in a huge market like China? Did the Chinese government stepped on their tail? Well yes, apparently it looks like Google is blaming (sort of) the Chinese government for being involved in a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on their corporate infrastructure that occurred last month. The attack originated in China and resulted in the “theft of intellectual property from Google.”

Chief Legal Officer David Drummond cites in the blog post that recent attacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in both China, the United States and Europe as driving the decision. “These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered—combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web—have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China,” he says. Drummond goes on to say that Google will no longer censor its search results in China and will therefore discuss with the Chinese government whether it can operate an “unfiltered search engine within the law.” That’s unlikely, and Drummond says “this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”

Some key points to look into:

  • This attack was done to Google alone, but also 20 other large companies
  • The primary objective of this attack was to get the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
  • The attack also focused on U.S., China and Europe-based Gmail accounts that supported human rights in China.
  • Google is way public about this attack and its reaction to them. This isn’t very google-like.
  • Google says it won’t continue to censor search results and may just shut down operations in China. This is like saying I don’t want that $600 million dollars!

In the end Google writes:

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

On the other hand, China’s biggest search engine (Baidu) was hacked this morning by the the same Iranian Cyber Army that hacked twitter before. According to Barry Schwartz of SEL, the site was down for about four hours and also has a screenshot of the page.

Update:

I just noticed that google is also showing this add when you search for Google china and related terms:

google-ad-china-issue

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9 Tips to Make the Most of Google Search

This article was originally written by me for a newsletter that is mostly consumed by non-techie business audience. You may know most of the search techniques that are described in this article. I have not been able to cover everything due to word limitation. If I have missed something interesting, do share it in comments section.

Often times we are searching on the web for various things and we get frustrated when we don’t get to our intended result fast. We switch our default search engine from Google to Yahoo and then Yahoo to Bing but the end result stays the same. Most of the search engines that exists today gives you near identical results and they are all equally good (Ok, maybe Google is a little better…), but other than the difference in Look n’ feel and speed, all the major engines follow the same underlying architecture that indexes the world wide web so that you can find everything at your fingertips.

Everyone knows how to search the web, its simple – we type in a word or a phrase and we get the result. But I’m going to share some of my personal web search tips for Google that gets me results much faster!

Write your search phrase naturally

Most of the search engines today can process natural language better than you think. So when you are searching for a direct answer, you should type in the question as it comes to your mind. E.g. What is the Capital of Netherlands? or What is the distance between earth and moon?

capital of netherlands google search

Search for Information from a Specific Site

Sometimes we want to get a piece of information out from a specific site quickly without visiting numerous doorway pages to do so. The operator “site:” works really well on those cases. By defining a “site:domain.com” at the end of your search phrase, you are telling Google to look for the information exactly on that particular website and nowhere else. For example, If you are looking for the 1-800 number of DHL simply search for – 1-800 site:dhl.com and it will directly show you the number in your search results page.

1-800 dhl google search

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Google’s Holiday Gift: $20 Million To Charity

google-holiday-logoEvery year Google sends out holiday gifts to their Adwords & Adsense users. However this year, I received an email from Google instead. It reads like below:

As we near the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time, energy, commitment, and trust you’ve shared with us in 2009. With sharing in mind, this year we’ve decided to do something a little different. We hope you’ll find it fits the spirit of the holiday season. We’re looking forward to working with you to build lasting success in 2010.
Happy Holidays,
Your Google Team

When I clicked on the link, I was taken to a landing page which stated that Google is giving away $20 million to charity this year. The page also acknowledges the charity organizations that are going to receive this massive fund.

Well too bad, I was expecting something nice from Google this year. Previously they have sent out Google goody bag (t-shirt, mug & stickers), Digital photo frame and even a Google Fridge to some of their AdSense publishers & premium Adwords client.

But then again I am happy that they have used the money for charity instead. Good Job Google & Happy Holidays to you too!


Google Browser Size – Web Usability Tool

google-browser-size If you are a web designer or developer, you are definitely going to appreciate this tool that google has came up with – Google Browser Size.

What is Google Browser Size?

Google Browser Size is a web usability tool that will help you understand how your visitors view your website. According to the official Google blog, It is completely based on a sample of data from visitors of google.com. A special code automatically collects data on the height and width of all the browser that is used to view Google for a sample of users.

For any given website, the tool will be able to tell you what percentage of users can see it like how you have designed it and so on. For instance, if a very important message or button is in the 80% region it means that 20% of users who have a different setting/screen size will need to scroll in order to see the message. If you’re a web designer or a developer, you can use this cool new tool to redesign your page so that you can minimize scrolling and make sure that the important parts of the page are always prominent to your site visitors.

How to use Google Browser Size ?

Using Google Browser size is pretty straightforward. Simply visit: http://browsersize.googlelabs.com and type in a URL in at the top of the screen, and within few seconds Google browser size will load your specified webpage in the background. It will then overlay a semi-transparent graphic depicting how much of the web’s population can view each section of your page without scrolling.

Here is a example of my site in Google Browser Size:

saad-kamal-browser-size

Very Interesting tool indeed! I’d like this to be a part of Google Analytics so that I can actually see what my visitor’s are seeing rather than relying on Google’s own sample of google.com.

More discussions on Techcrunch & Techmeme.


URL Shortener by Google – Goo.gl

After facebook just launched their url shortener, Google has also joined the party with their own version of URL shortener – Goo.gl.

The Google URL shortener currently doesn’t work as stand-alone service as you can’t use it to shorten links directly (like you do with bit.ly). However Google URL Shortener is available from the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. If the service proves useful, Google says that they may eventually make it available for a wider audience in the future.

How To Share Pages using Gog.gl?

Sharing pages using Google toolbar is very easy. If your browser already has Google toolbar installed you should see a new green share button (very similar to the shareaholic icon.

google-toolbar-share

The Google share option gives you a long list of social websites where you would usually share content (e.g. twitter, facebook, digg and so on). So basically if you use the Google’s toolbar share function to share something, it will automatically use Google’s URL shortener to share the link. However, I have to say that this isn’t working for me for some reason but it looks like others are using it successfully. So give it a try!

Now why should you use Google’s URL Shortener rather than other similar services like tinyurl or bit.ly? Google in their official blog explains 3 major benefits of using their URL shortener:

Stability:Google’s scalable, multi-datacenter infrastructure provides great uptime and a reliable service to our users.

Security: As Google does it with their web search, shortened URLs are automatically checked to detect sites that may be malicious and warn users when the short URL resolves to such sites.

Speed: Google loves fast products and they have worked hard to ensure this service is quick. We’ll continue to iterate and improve the speed of Google Url Shortener.

Read what others are saying about Goo.gl:

Bit.ly Just Got Fu.kd: Facebook And Google Get Into The Short URL Game – Techcrunch

Introducing Google’s Own URL Shortener – Search Engine Journal

Just What the World Needs: Google Introduces Goo.gl URL Shortener – PC World

Goo.gl: Google Launches a URL Shortener, Too- Mashable


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