Monthly:June 2019

It’s time for a new international tax deal

Finance ministers from the world’s largest economies recently came together and agreed on the need for the most significant reforms to the global tax system in a century. That’s great news.

We support the movement toward a new comprehensive, international framework for how multinational companies are taxed. Corporate income tax is an important way companies contribute to the countries and communities where they do business, and we would like to see a tax environment that people find reasonable and appropriate.

While some have raised concerns about where Google pays taxes, Google’s overall global tax rate has been over 23 percent for the past 10 years, in line with the 23.7 percent average statutory rate across the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Most of these taxes are due in the United States, where our business originated, and where most of our products and services are developed. The rest we paid in the roughly fifty countries around the world where we have offices helping to sell our services.

We’re not alone in paying most of our corporate income tax in our home country. That allocation  reflects long-standing rules about how corporate profits should be split among various countries. American companies pay most of their corporate taxes in the United States—just as German, British, French and Japanese firms pay most of their corporate taxes in their home countries. 

For over a century, the international community has developed treaties to tax foreign firms in a coordinated way. This framework has always attributed more profits to the countries where products and services are produced, rather than where they are consumed. But it’s time for the system to evolve, ensuring a better distribution of tax income.

The United States, Germany, and other countries have put forward new proposals for modernizing tax rules, with more taxes paid in countries where products and services are consumed. We hope governments can develop a consensus around a new framework for fair taxation, giving companies operating around the world clear rules that promote a sensible business investment.

The need for modernization isn’t limited to the technology sector. Both the OECD and a group of EU experts have concluded that the wider economy is “digitizing,” creating a need for broad-based reform of current rules. Almost all multinational companies use data, computers, and internet connectivity to power their products and services. And many are seeking ways to integrate these technologies, creating “smart” appliances, cars, factories, homes and hospitals. 

But even as this multilateral process is advancing, some countries are considering going it alone, imposing new taxes on foreign companies. Without a new, comprehensive and multilateral agreement, countries might simply impose discriminatory unilateral taxes on foreign firms in various sectors. Indeed, we already see such problems in some of the specific proposals that have been put forward.   

That kind of race to the bottom would create new barriers to trade, slow cross-border investment, and hamper economic growth. We’re already seeing this in a handful of countries proposing new taxes on all kinds of goods—from software to consumer products—that involve intellectual property. Specialized taxes on a handful of U.S. technology companies would do little more than claim taxes that are currently owed in the U.S., heightening trade tensions. But if governments work together, more taxes can be paid where products and services are consumed, in a coordinated and mutually acceptable way. This give-and-take is needed to ensure a better, more balanced global tax system.

We believe this approach will restore confidence in the international tax system and promote more cross-border trade and investment. We strongly support the OECD’s work to end the current uncertainty and develop new tax principles. We call on governments and companies to work together to accelerate this reform and forge a new, lasting, and global agreement.

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How Rituals used Google Marketing Platform to become a global brand

One year ago we introduced Google Marketing Platform to help marketers drive better results for their business. Google Marketing Platform brings together our advertising and analytics solutions, allowing you to create, buy, measure, and optimize your marketing in one single place. This enables a better understanding of the customer journey and more effective campaigns. 

We’ve seen companies around the world use this unified approach to deliver business growth. Rituals, a fast-growing European bath and body company, is one success story that stands out. Although popular across Europe, Rituals is thinking bigger—and is using Google Marketing Platform to achieve its goal of becoming a global brand.

Google Marketing Platform: Rituals Case Study

Google Marketing Platform: Rituals Case Study

Rituals accelerates growth with an automated audience strategy 

Rituals has a loyal customer base in Europe, but wanted to reach more people in other regions. To support this growth, Rituals needed a marketing strategy that could scale quickly.

Previously, in order to reach potential customers, the Rituals team would manually build audience lists that they would later use in their marketing campaigns. But as Rituals entered into more new countries, the amount of manual work that went into creating these audiences became excessive. Their team turned to Google Marketing Platform and its machine learning capabilities for help.

Today, Rituals uses Google Marketing Platform to predict which visitors to its website are most likely to purchase and then automatically create audiences of those people. This makes it easier for Rituals to quickly reach them across its marketing campaigns. 

The result? A faster and smarter approach to marketing, driving an 85 percent increase in sales and a 15 percent decrease in cost-per-acquisition.

The results are incredible. It actually helped us transform our whole vision. We want to be a global brand and Google Marketing Platform facilitates that growth. Martijn van der Zee
Digital Director at Rituals

To learn more about how Rituals automated its marketing strategy, read the full case study here.

As Google Marketing Platform enters its second year, we’re excited to continue to work with brands around the world and share their success stories.

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Unsupervised learning: The curious pupil

One in a series of posts explaining the theories underpinning our research. Over the last decade, machine learning has made unprecedented progress in areas as diverse as image recognition, self-driving cars and playing complex games like Go. These successes have been largely realised by training deep neural networks with one of two learning paradigmssupervised learning and reinforcement learning. Both paradigms require training signals to be designed by a human and passed to the computer. In the case of supervised learning, these are the targets (such as the correct label for an image); in the case of reinforcement learning, they are the rewards for successful behaviour (such as getting a high score in an Atari game). The limits of learning are therefore defined by the human trainers. While some scientists contend that a sufficiently inclusive training regimefor example, the ability to complete a very wide variety of tasksshould be enough to give rise to general intelligence, others believe that true intelligence will require more independent learning strategies. Consider how a toddler learns, for instance. Her grandmother might sit with her and patiently point out examples of ducks (acting as the instructive signal in supervised learning), or reward her with applause for solving a woodblock puzzle (as in reinforcement learning).Read More

Helping kids learn to evaluate what they see online

Editor’s Note: This week we’re launching six new media literacy activities for Be Internet Awesome, designed to help kids analyze and evaluate media as they navigate the internet. The new activities were developed in collaboration with experts Anne Collier, executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Faith Rogow, PhD, co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.

As a reading specialist and former high school English teacher, I’ve witnessed technology enhance our lives in and out of the classroom. But that comes with lots of challenges, like learning to communicate responsibly, being kind online and deciphering what is real and what is fake. We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology, and while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy. I’ve worked alongside dozens of educators who believe that media literacy is essential to safety and citizenship in the digital age, but agree that it’s a topic that can be tough to cover.

Fortunately, the new media literacy lessons developed for Be Internet Awesome make it easy and fun for kids to learn key skills for evaluating what they see online. These lessons complement the program’s digital safety and citizenship topics, which help kids explore the online world in a safe, confident manner.

Be Internet Awesome is like an instruction manual for making smart decisions online. Kids today need a guide to the internet and media just as they need instruction on other topics. We need help teaching them about credible sources, the power of words and images and more importantly, how to be smart and savvy when seeing different media while browsing the web.

All of these resources are not only available for classrooms, but also free and easily accessible for families as well. They’re in both English and in Spanish, along with eight other languages, and if you’d like to get some hands-on training as well, Google is partnering with the YMCA and National PTA across multiple cities to host online safety workshops.

I encourage parents to take advantage of these resources and the new activities on media literacy. Let’s not only teach kids, but also inspire, educate and empower families to make tech work better for them as well.

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On World Wi-Fi Day, celebrating a fast, free and open internet

As a college student in Indonesia, Akbar dreamed of providing for his family through a career in software development. With low connectivity at school and no Wi-Fi at home, his opportunities to spend time studying online were limited. 

Then in 2017 Google Station became available on his campus. Using the fast, free and open Wi-Fi, Akbar could download dozens of tutorial videos to supplement his coursework. He began going to school early and staying late. Equipped with lessons to watch at home, he devoured the information he needed to work toward his degree. Today, Akbar’s income as a programmer helps support his family.

Akbar's Story⼁#WorldWiFiDay 2019

A free and open internet enables stories like Akbar’s around the world. Helen, a rickshaw driver in India, used free Railwire Wi-Fi to download study materials for her child while waiting for customers at the train station. Shrinath, a railway porter, used Wi-Fi to study and pursue his dream position as Village Assistant. And 15 years after becoming lost as a child in Thailand, Aum went online at an internet cafe—and using Search and Maps, with support from a local NGO, finally found his way back to his hometown and family. 

We’re driven and inspired by people who use the internet to go after their dreams. That’s why we created Google Station, which makes it simple for our partners to set up, maintain and monetize Wi-Fi networks that are free to use. Globally, Google Station serves more than 10 million people in 1,300 locations across India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and most recently, Brazil. 

If you’re an internet service provider or venue owner interested in partnering with Google Station to bring fast, free and open Wi-Fi to more people, let us know. We’d be happy to talk with you and create more opportunities together.

And to everyone using the internet to pursue their dreams—Happy World Wi-Fi Day! Today was made for you.

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Oversight frameworks for content-sharing platforms

A range of governments, tech platforms, and civil society are focused on how best to deal with illegal and problematic online content. There’s broad agreement on letting people create, communicate, and find information online, while preventing people from misusing content-sharing platforms like social networks and video-sharing sites.

We’ve been working on this challenge for years, using both computer science tools and human reviewers to identify and stop a range of online abuse, from“get rich quick” schemes to disinformation to child sexual abuse material. We respond promptly to valid notices of specific illegal content, and we prohibit other types of content on various different services. A mix of people and technology helps us identify inappropriate content and enforce our policies, and we continue to improve our practices. Earlier this year we issued anin-depth review of how we combat disinformation, and YouTube continues to regularly update its Community Guidelines Enforcement Report.

Tackling this problem is a shared responsibility. Many laws, covering everything from consumer protection to defamation to privacy, already govern online content. Safe harbors and Good Samaritan laws for online platforms support the free flow of information, innovation, and economic growth, while giving platforms the legal certainty they need to combat problematic content. Over the internet’s history, many countries have not only established criteria to qualify for safe harbors, but also developed codes of practice (like the European Union’s Code of Conduct On Countering Illegal Hate Speech and Code of Practice on Disinformation). And companies have worked together, as with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a coalition sharing information on curbing online terrorism. Approaches continue to evolve—for instance, earlier this month we joined other companies and countries in signing the Christchurch Call to Action To Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online.

We’ve previously shared our experiences in order to promote smart regulation in areas like privacy, artificial intelligence, and government surveillance, and I recently wrote about specific legal frameworks for combating illegal content online. In that spirit, we are offering some ideas for approaching oversight of content-sharing platforms:

Clarity – Content-sharing platforms are working to develop and enforce responsible content policies that establish baseline expectations for users and articulate a clear basis for removal of content as well as for suspension or closure of accounts. But it’s also important for governments to draw clear lines between legal and illegal speech, based on evidence of harm and consistent with norms of democratic accountability and international human rights. Without clear definitions, there is a risk of arbitrary or opaque enforcement that limits access to legitimate information.

Suitability – It’s important for oversight frameworks to recognize the different purposes and functions of different services. Rules that make sense for social networks, video-sharing platforms, and other services primarily designed to help people share content with a broad audience may not be appropriate for search engines, enterprise services, file storage, communication tools, or other online services, where users have fundamentally different expectations and applications. Different types of content may likewise call for different approaches.

Transparency – Meaningful transparency promotes accountability. We launched our first Transparency Report more than eight years ago, and we continue to extend our transparency efforts over time. Done thoughtfully, transparency can promote best practices, facilitate research, and encourage innovation, without enabling abuse of processes.

Flexibility – We and other tech companies have pushed the boundaries of computer science in identifying and removing problematic content at scale. These technical advances require flexible legal frameworks, not static or one-size-fits-all mandates. Likewise, legal approaches should recognize the varying needs and capabilities of startups and smaller companies.

Overall quality – The scope and complexity of modern platforms requires a data-driven approach that focuses on overall results rather than anecdotes. While we will never eliminate all problematic content, we should recognize progress in making that content less prominent. Reviews under the European Union’s codes on hate speech and disinformation offer a useful example of assessing overall progress against a complex set of goals.

Cooperation – International coordination should strive to align on broad principles and practices. While there is broad international consensus on issues like child sexual abuse imagery, in other areas individual countries will make their own choices about the limits of permissible speech, and one country should not be able to impose its content restrictions on another.

The recent Christchurch Call is a powerful reminder of what we can do when a range of stakeholders work together to address the challenges of online content. The internet has expanded access to information, bringing incredible benefits to people around the world. And as with any new information technology, societies and cultures are developing new social norms, institutions, and laws to address new challenges and opportunities. We look forward to contributing to that extraordinarily important project.

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Immersive branded experiences in YouTube and display ads

As a three-dimensional, visual medium, augmented reality (AR) is a powerful tool for brands looking to tell richer, more engaging stories about their products to consumers. Recently, we brought AR to Google products like Search, and made updates to our developer platform, ARCore, to help creators build more immersive experiences. Starting this week, we’re also bringing AR to YouTube and interactive 3D assets to display ads.

Helping YouTube beauty fans pick their next lipstick

Many consumers look to YouTube creators for help when deciding on new products to purchase. And brands have long been teaming up with creators to connect with audiences. Now, brands and creators can make that experience even more personalized and useful for viewers in AR.

Today, we’re introducing AR Beauty Try-On, which lets viewers virtually try on makeup while following along with YouTube creators to get tips, product reviews, and more. Thanks to machine learning and AR technology, it offers realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones. Currently in alpha, AR Beauty Try-On is available through FameBit by YouTube, Google’s in-house branded content platform.

M·A·C Cosmetics is the first brand to partner with FameBit to launch an AR Beauty Try-On campaign. Using this new format, brands like M·A·C will be able to tap into YouTube’s vibrant creator community, deploy influencer campaigns to YouTube’s 2 billion monthly active users, and measure their results in real time.

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Viewers will be able to try on different shades of M·A·C lipstick as their favorite beauty creator tries on the same shades. After trying on a lipstick, they can click to visit M·A·C’s website to purchase it.

We tested this experience earlier this year with several beauty brands and found that 30 percent of viewers activated the AR experience in the YouTube iOS app, spending over 80 seconds on average trying on lipstick virtually.

Bringing three-dimensional assets to display ads

We’re also offering brands a new canvas for creativity with Swirl, our first immersive display format. Swirl brings three-dimensional assets to display advertising on the mobile web, which can help educate consumers before making a purchase. They can directly zoom in and out, rotate a product, or play an animation. Swirl is available exclusively through Display and Video 360.

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In this example from New Balance, people can rotate to explore the Fresh Foam 1080 running shoe. Objects like a mobile phone (right) can expand to show additional layered content.

To help brands more easily edit, configure and publish high-quality, realistic models to use in Swirl display ads, we’re introducing a new editor on Poly, Google’s 3D platform. It provides more editorial control over 3D objects, including new ways to change animation settings, customize backgrounds, and add realistic reflections.

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The new Poly editor lets you easily edit photorealistic three-dimensional objects for use in Swirl display ads.

These new tools will be available to brands and advertisers this summer. We think they’ll help brands and advertisers make content more engaging, educational, and ultimately effective in driving purchase decisions. If you’re interested, check out our getting started guide for tips. We look forward to seeing you bring your products to life!

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Deliver more interactive ad experiences with Display & Video 360

Marketers have more opportunities than ever before to deliver engaging ad experiences through immersive creative. Many companies are investing in creating 3D assets to bring their products to life and allow consumers to interact with products as they would in real life. For example, a person can explore the interior and exterior of a car before taking it for a test drive, all from the comfort of their home. But it can be challenging to scale these experiences. Now you can extend the reach of these 3D assets to produce more captivating ads, with two new updates coming today.

Showcase your products with Immersive Display

Swirl is a new immersive display format designed for mobile web and available on Display & Video 360. People can explore every angle of your product by rotating the 3D object in all directions and zooming in and out, interacting from their device as if the product was in front of them. Customers like Guerlain, a leading perfume and cosmetics company, are using Swirl to deliver better ad experiences that draw people’s attention and let them interact with the perfume bottle directly and discover more about the scent.

Guerlain Swirl example
Swirl is opening up a whole new creative canvas for us. We’re able to tell a more dynamic story about our products and give customers a powerful new way to interact with them. Jean-Denis Mariani
Chief Digital Officer of Guerlain

Brands that already have 3D assets can easily create a Swirl ad unit by using the 3D/Swirl component in Google Web Designer, our creative authoring tool. And with a new editor coming to Poly, Google’s 3D platform, it’s easier for brands and agencies to edit, configure, and publish high-quality, photorealistic models to use in immersive display ads. You can learn more in this post. If you’re interested in exploring Swirl but need help building 3D assets, we also have certified 3D production partners to help.

Expand the reach of your YouTube live streams

Increasingly, people are tuning in to live events like concerts, sports and shows through live streams. Brands are noticing this shift and are investing in live stream content through sponsorships and their own branded content. We know it takes a lot of time and resources to build these assets and we want to make it easier to get more out of your live stream investment.

The new live stream format in Display & Video 360 allows you to run your YouTube live stream content in display ads across screens and devices. You can quickly get started by using assets from your existing YouTube live stream campaigns with a new template in Google Web Designer.

With the live stream format people will be able to interact with the video using familiar YouTube player controls. People can preview your live stream, watch full screen, and exit when they’re done, giving them full control over how they interact with your content.

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Building better ad experiences

Live stream and Swirl are just two examples of how we’re enabling brands to deliver more interactive ad experiences at scale with Display & Video 360. We want to make it easier for you to build ads that are engaging and valuable to consumers. We’ll continue to share creative solutions to help you build beautiful creative and deliver better ad experiences to users wherever they are online.

Both Swirl and the new live stream format are in a limited beta. To learn more about these new interactive formats, reach out to your Display & Video 360 account manager.

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Carmen Sandiego is back for a final assignment in Google Earth

Nothing gets past you, super sleuth! You helped Carmen Sandiego recover the stolen Crown Jewels of England and Tutankhamun’s Mask. Now we need you for a third and final assignment: Recover the Keys to the Kremlin in Google Earth.

We’ve teamed up with Carmen Sandiego and learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt once again to track down a new VILE operative—Paperstar, master origamist—and return this treasure to the people of Moscow.  

Carmen Sandiego: Keys to the Kremlin Caper

To get your assignment, look for the special edition Pegman icon in Google Earth for Chrome, Android and iOS. And catch us next week at ISTE 2019 in Philadelphia, where we’ll be talking with teachers about how to use these educational capers in the classroom.

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Meet David Feinberg, head of Google Health

Dr. David Feinberg has spent his entire career caring for people’s health and wellbeing. And after years in the healthcare system, he now leads Google Health, which brings together groups from across Google and Alphabet that are using AI, product expertise and hardware to take on big healthcare challenges. We sat down with David to hear more about his pre-Google life, what he’s learned as a “Noogler” (new Googler), and what’s next for Google Health.

You joined Google after a career path that led you from child psychiatrist to hospital executive. Tell us how this journey brought you to Google Health.

I’m driven by the urgency to help people live longer, healthier lives. I started as a child psychiatrist at UCLA helping young patients with serious mental health needs. Over the course of my 25 years at UCLA, I moved from treating dozens of patients, to overseeing the UCLA health system and the more than a million patients in our care. Then, at Geisinger, I had the opportunity to support a community of more than 3 million patients.

I recall my mom being very confused by my logic of stepping away from clinical duties and moving toward administrative duties as a way of helping more people. However, in these roles, the impact lies in initiatives that have boosted patient experience, improved people’s access to healthcare, and (I hope!) helped people get more time back to live their lives.

When I began speaking with Google, I immediately saw the potential to help billions of people, in part because I believe Google is already a health company. It’s been in the company’s DNA from the start.

You say Google is already a health company. How so?

We’re already making strides in organizing and making health data more useful thanks to work being done by Cloud and AI teams. And looking across the rest of Google’s portfolio of helpful products, we’re already addressing aspects of people’s health. Search helps people answer everyday health questions, Maps helps get people to the nearest hospital, and other tools and products are addressing issues tangential to health—for instance, literacysafer driving, and air pollution.

We already have the foundation, and I’m excited by the potential to tap into Google’s strengths, its brilliant people, and its amazing products to do more for people’s health (and lives).

I believe Google is already a health company. It’s been in the company’s DNA from the start.

This isn’t the first time Google has invested directly in health efforts. What has changed over the years about Google’s solving health-related problems? 

Some of Google’s early efforts didn’t gain traction due to various challenges the entire industry was facing at the time. During this period, I was a hospital administrator and no one talked about interoperability—a term familiar to those of us in the industry today. We were only just starting to think about the behemoth task of adopting electronic health records and bringing health data online, which is why some of the early projects didn’t really get off the ground. Today we take some of this for granted as we navigate today’s more digitized healthcare systems.

The last few years have changed the healthcare landscape—offering up new opportunities and challenges. And in response, Google and Alphabet have invested in efforts that complement their strengths and put users, patients, and care providers first. Look no further than the promising AI research and mobile applications coming from Google and DeepMind Health, or Verily’s Project Baseline that is pushing the boundaries of what we think we know about human health. And there’s so much more we can and will do.

Speaking of AI, it features prominently in many of Google’s current health efforts. What’s next for this research?

There’s little doubt that AI will power the next wave of tools that can improve many facets of healthcare: delivery, access, and so much more.

When I consider the future of research, I see us continuing to be deliberate and thoughtful about sharing our findings with the research and medical communities, incorporating feedback, and generally making sure our work actually adds value to patients, doctors and care providers.

Of course, we have to work toward getting solutions out in the wild, and into the hands of the pathologist scanning slides for breast cancer, or the nurse scanning a patient’s record for the latest lab results on the go. But this needs to be executed safely, working with and listening to our users to ensure that we get this right.

Now that you’ve been here for six months, what’s been most surprising to you about Google or the team?

I can’t believe how fantastic it is to not wear a suit after decades of formal business attire. When I got the job I ended up donating most of my suits. I kept a few, you know, for weddings.

On a more serious note, I’m blown away every day by the teams I’m surrounded by, and the drive and commitment they have for the work they do. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team.

What’s your life motto?

I know this sounds cheesy, but there are three words I really do say every morning when I arrive in the parking lot for work: passion, humility, integrity. These are words that ground me, and also ground the work we are doing at Google Health.

Passion means we have to get this right, and feel that health is a cause worth fighting for, every day. We need humility, because at the end of the day, if we move too quickly or mess up, people’s lives are on the line. And integrity means that we should come to work with the aim of leaving the place—and the world—better than when we found it.

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