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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A brand-new interface for AdSense

If you’re an online publisher running a website that relies on ad revenues—whether it’s a blog or an entertainment website—it can sometimes be complex to get started and to find new ways to make more money from your ads.

As I’ve previously written, we’re committed to helping online publishers—large and small—“find the advertising gold hidden within their sites,” so they can fund their websites and online content. At the core of these efforts—as it has been for more than seven years—is AdSense, which now has more than 2 million publishers in more than 200 countries who use it to fund great online businesses.

Over the last few years, we’ve invested significantly in improving AdSense so that it provides the best solution to help all publishers make the most money possible from online advertising. We’ve added a range of new ad formats (including video and rich media), improved our publisher filters, enabled better targeting that drives higher returns (like remarketing and above-the-fold targeting) and introduced increased competition for publishers’ ad space by bringing in additional advertisers and certified ad networks.

To continue helping our publishers, today we’re excited to be rolling out a completely new AdSense interface to all of our AdSense publishers, globally, in more than 30 languages and in each of the 200+ countries where AdSense is available. The AdSense interface is how publishers set up, manage, optimize and see reports on the ads on their sites.

With this new interface, AdSense is even easier to use, and we’re also providing publishers with all the tools they need to manage and increase their advertising revenue. We used lots of direct feedback from our publishers to make this overhaul. If you’re an online publisher, it helps you in three main ways:

* More insights. We’ve built in simple, graphical reporting and more options for you to easily slice and dice your data, so you can see at a glance what ads are working and which are not, and adjust your strategies accordingly.
* More control. We’ve made our ad controls richer and simpler to use, so you can better control which ads and advertisers you want to appear on your sites.
* More efficiency. It’s now much easier to quickly see earnings and payment information, to run reports, to find relevant features and help, and to make account changes. Our engineers have spent countless hours making sure that the interface is stable and blazing fast. We’ve also spent many hours in our usability labs with publishers, focused on making the interface easy to learn and use for all types of publishers.

Since we started trialling this new interface, many of our early testers have commented on the power of the reporting tools. They’ve been able to quickly analyze data and identify new trends that help them maximize their online ad revenues through AdSense.

The new interface is just the latest milestone in our efforts to help you make more money from all your online content. We look forward to hearing from as many publishers as possible, to learn what you like about this interface and where we can continue to improve.

To learn more, read our post on the Inside AdSense blog or visit google.com/ads/newadsense.

Posted by Jonathan Bellack, Director, Product Management

Voice Search in underrepresented languages

Posted: 09 Nov 2010 03:40 PM PST
(Cross-posted from the Google Research Blog)

Welkom*!

Today we’re introducing Voice Search support for Zulu and Afrikaans, as well as South African-accented English. The addition of Zulu in particular represents our first effort in building Voice Search for underrepresented languages.

We define underrepresented languages as those which, while spoken by millions, have little presence in electronic and physical media, e.g., webpages, newspapers and magazines. Underrepresented languages have also often received little attention from the speech research community. Their phonetics, grammar, acoustics, etc., haven’t been extensively studied, making the development of ASR (automatic speech recognition) voice search systems challenging.

We believe that the speech research community needs to start working on many of these underrepresented languages to advance progress and build speech recognition, translation and other Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. The development of NLP technologies in these languages is critical for enabling information access for everybody. Indeed, these technologies have the potential to break language barriers.

We also think it’s important that researchers in these countries take a leading role in advancing the state of the art in their own languages. To this end, we’ve collaborated with the Multilingual Speech Technology group at South Africa’s North-West University led by Prof. Ettiene Barnard (also of the Meraka Research Institute), an authority in speech technology for South African languages. Our development effort was spearheaded by Charl van Heerden, a South African intern and a student of Prof. Barnard. With the help of Prof. Barnard’s team, we collected acoustic data in the three languages, developed lexicons and grammars, and Charl and others used those to develop the three Voice Search systems. A team of language specialists traveled to several cities collecting audio samples from hundreds of speakers in multiple acoustic conditions such as street noise, background speech, etc. Speakers were asked to read typical search queries into an Android app specifically designed for audio data collection.

For Zulu, we faced the additional challenge of few text sources on the web. We often analyze the search queries from local versions of Google to build our lexicons and language models. However, for Zulu there weren’t enough queries to build a useful language model. Furthermore, since it has few online data sources, native speakers have learned to use a mix of Zulu and English when searching for information on the web. So for our Zulu Voice Search product, we had to build a truly hybrid recognizer, allowing free mixture of both languages. Our phonetic inventory covers both English and Zulu and our grammars allow natural switching from Zulu to English, emulating speaker behavior.

This is our first release of Voice Search in a native African language, and we hope that it won’t be the last. We’ll continue to work on technology for languages that have until now received little attention from the speech recognition community.

Salani kahle!**

* “Welcome” in Afrikaans
** “Stay well” in Zulu

Posted by Rui Ribeiro, Staff Research Scientist and Johan Schalkwyk, Senior Staff Engineer

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