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10 things learned from running $10,000 a month Google for Non-Profits campaign!

By | Google Adwords, Google Plus | No Comments

Google for Nonprofits offers charitable organizations in more than fifty countries an opportunity to apply for a Google AdGrant. If qualified, Google provides $10,000 USD per month to use for AdWords advertising. And, if successful over time, the nonprofit may qualify for  $40,000 per month with AdGrants Pro.

  1. Partial List of Eligibility requirements for the AdGrant:

  • Link ads to the domain name the AdGrant was applied for
  • Daily ads limit $329 = $10,000 per month
  • 00 max CPC (cost-per-click)
  • Advertising on Google Search Network Only
  • Keyword targeted ads
  • Monthly login and at least one change per 90 days
  1. Install Conversion tracking: (TIP)

Install conversion tracking on a “Thank-you” page to capture people who complete the action process.

Conversion tracking enables nonprofits to understand how those responding to ads are connecting to products and services.

There are several different ways to install, including adding the tracking code to the appropriate section of the website or using Google Tag Manager.

Test to be sure conversion tracking is working. One way to check is by using Google Tag Assistant Chrome extension. This extension troubleshoots various tags, including Google Analytics, Google AdWords etc.

Google Adwords 1

  1. Add extensions (TIP)

(Followup to check they are working): Here are three to consider:

Add relevant and useful extensions for both desktop and mobile (at least 10 each). For example: create sitelink extension links to specific pages on the website you want people to visit.. Check results to see how Ad Position is affected

In this example all of the sitelink extensions appear to rank well in terms of ad placement. Yet, the CTR is below the desired minimum 1% for the AdGrant.

Looking more closely, the CTR for mobile is doing very well and the desktop sitelink extensions are not. Instead of deleting the desktop sitelinks, disable them and test at another time.

Reviewing again a few days later, the sitelink extensions are not driving the CTR, instead it is  the headline. Good information to know and to consider for further adjustments.

  • Call Extensions: (TIP) Schedule call extensions to show when staff are available to answer calls. If your nonprofit relies on direct customer service, this is potentially useful for driving phone calls and providing the answers your donors and customers are searching for.

Excellent tool to use if volunteers, donors or donees are local, or your organization server a large area.

  1. Connect Google AdWords to.Google Analytics

Understanding audience, website, social media channels and how different parts an pieces of an organization connect together are key to making the most of your AdWords account.

  1. Daily check-in: (TIP)

Review campaigns daily.

There are many moving parts in AdWords campaigns and it takes time to learn what works and how the components work together. For example, an campaign may resonate well with audiences during the week but not on the weekend. Or, an AdGroup may stop performing because of Keyword competition.

  1. Quality Score – (QS)

As defined by Google “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords and landing page.” QS has a range of 1-10 out of 10. Ads that have good landing pages and are relevant to your users tend to have a higher QS.

Google Adwords 2

  1. Befriend The “Bubble”

Bubbles are tiny little boxes that lead to a wealth of information. Located in the account in places like Keywords, Extensions and Ad Status, Bubbles help provide an understanding of ad components and areas for improvements.

Google Adwords 3

  1. Think Counterintuitively

Having the budget an AdGrant provides initially appears to be equivalent to hitting the jackpot. On the other hand, you are competing for ads on a small, $2.00 CPC budget and a daily limit of $329. While it may be tempting to “set it and forget it”, AdGrants require thoughtful consideration to maximize the potential. Here are a few tips:

  • Opportunities: Google will auto suggest opportunities that are tailored to a “regular” AdWords account. Take time to consider if that opportunity makes sense for nonprofit goals. For example, raising the budget may not be practical given the daily limit and may also affect the timing of ads.

Google Adwords 4

  • Quality Keywords over Quantity: (TIP) Test Google Keyword suggestions with a separate “Test” Ad and see how they perform before adding to an ad that is already working well.

Adding 710 suggested keywords (see example below) may not make sense for a campaign or relate to a particular landing page. Keeping 6 -10 Keywords per ad tends to work well and allows a quick understand how an ad is performing.

Google Adwords 5

  1. Keyword Matching: (TIP)

Try using Broad Match keywords to reach a larger audience.

  • Carefully considering keyword matching options like Phrase-Match, Exact-Match and Broad-Match allows control over how ads are shown in search. View the keywords that triggered an ad by looking at Search Terms:

Google Adwords 6

  1. Embrace Patience:

Non-profits often operate with small teams and on limited budgets. Their Director and team members are likely wearing many hats and may have different priorities, experiences and time tables. Other consultants may be part of the team as well. Be prepared to contribute the extended knowledge that you bring to the table and work with other team and board members towards the rewarding and common goal of the non-profit.


Implementing Google AdGrants for a nonprofit is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve had in my career. A deeper dive into AdWords and Analytics to more specifically reach donors and donees and taking advantage of other parts of the AdGrant including YouTube and Google Generosity continue the journey. Stay tuned for additional updates!

Want to know more about our services? Contact us here!

What is Altspace VR? Just about everything you’ll need to know.

By | Google Plus, Virtual Reality | No Comments


AltspaceVR feels like the future.

And the Spaces is has created feel like Aech’s basement, or maybe a room where you could find a key to a gate.
(yes, references from the book ‘Ready Player One’ if you didn’t guess)

This is super-geeky, fun, and fast.

The team have created a 2D and 3D world, which really springs into life when you are in 3D of course.

Who is it for?

If you have a VR headset, you probably know about it already.

And I would say it is for the open minded, curious geek.

You can also host your own event (the usual is 30 people max, but you can connect them if you want to run something larger) as well as attend events hosted by the AltspaceVR team.

There is a fun ‘games’ aspect to it, including hosted events (like quizzes, and a sketchfest) as well as simply being a place to experience new 3D world.

You can also watch YouTube videos on a big screen, with your fellow Altspacers there too.

What equipment will you need?

There is a full 2D desktop version, but of course you will want to have a VR headset for the full experience.

These are the headsets that are compatible right now for the Virtual Reality experience:

HTC Vive

Samsung Gear VR

Oculus Rift

Note: I’ve spoken with the team and there is no plan to have a version that is compatible with Google Cardboard.

The Spaces:

There are many spaces you can join (start with the ‘Welcome’ Space),

altspace 1

Then you will be given the option to customize your avatar, choosing from the options to be a robot of a humanoid:

altspace 2

Then you are in the space:

altspace 3

altspace 4

altspace 5

And there are loads of Spaces, with games you can play:

altspace 6

And you can even create your own and invite friends to join you:

altspace 7

What is ‘SDK’ medium?

I asked the Altspace team to explain this…
“SDK stands for Software Developers Kit. We have an SDK for developers interested in building 3D web app experiences for our platform. They can code using the three.js javascript library, in addition to HTML and CSS. Our SDK developers are a big part of our thriving community. Some of the experiences they have created that Altspacers are familiar with include air hockey, or the globe that is often in the Welcome Space.”

altspace 9

How to connect with other people?

Let me run you through the desktop options in relation to this…


If you select ‘Social’ you will be able to see people online now. Just ‘Follow’ to add them to your list.

altspace 11

If you then click on ‘Following’ you’ll get suggestions if you don’t already have people in that list:

altspace 12

And if you are a little lonely (like me) you won’t have anyone following you back.

(aww) but you can share to Facebook/Twitter/Email…

altspace 13

And see if anyone else in your network wants to meet you in AltspaceVR too:

altspace 14

The culture

Everyone who arrives is still exploring, so know it is all ‘very new’.
The social norms haven’t settled yet.

The AltspaceVR team are super attentive though.
Any questions you have, pop by ‘The Welcome’ space and ask of the team a question.

They may well look like this:

altspace 10

You’ll need to unmute your mic to speak, but from there you’ll be able to ask questions and connect with people there and ready to help.


This network is growing very much due to the events they are putting on.

altspace 15

And as you can see by this Facebook post, they are very fun too, including the hottest VR party games:

Today, Join us with Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes for an AMA inside AltspaceVR at 11:00 am PST!

Posted by AltspaceVR on Friday, 26 February 2016

What would you say are the main applications? (ALTSpace)

The team says, “We are a communications platform committed to creating shared experiences inside virtual reality. This includes gaming experiences, like Dungeons and Dragons or our latest experiences Sketchy Quiz and Disc Golf, or meeting up with friends to watch YouTube or play your favorite Twitch stream. We also have larger entertainment events we host like VR Comedy and VR Storytelling for the users to come and enjoy each other’s company.”

Shared video watching

Watching YouTube videos together in VR gives a focal point of shared experience. And is something that is easy to explain to newbies too.
I had this experience in the Welcome room and all members stopped and watched – i.e. it held our attention completely.

How to record your session:

If you are keen to show people what’s going on here, you have a few options…

You can record you screen and upload to YouTube/Vimeo
You can live stream to YouTube (from your desktop)

You can record the view via your tethered Oculus

From the AltspaceVR team:
“If you want to stream via a desktop or desktop with Rift/Vive, that can be supported with third party apps. We recommend using OBS recorder ( and setting it up with your YouTube account.”

Note: If you are using a Samsung Gear VR, it may be possible to record via the split screen/headset, but I don’t have the app as yet.

It is possible, but YouTube streaming is the recommended format for the widest array of functionality.  You can use an app like MirrorOP or Annotate Mirror Client for the Samsung Gear VR headset.

What does the future hold?

“AltspaceVR offers a new form of communication, where people meet, do things they could otherwise only do when they are in the same place, and really feel as if they are together. Products like Samsung Gear VR are making VR more affordable and easier to use, and therefore more accessible for a broad audience of consumers  For AltspaceVR, this enables the realization of our mission to make available the most natural, fulfilling and effective communication online to users worldwide.” AltspaceVR Team

altspace 16

And walking around in VR may not be far away, if you don’t mind more geek gear taking over your house:

Lots of fun, and something that is simply going to grow as consumers get their hands on devices, with Gear VR being the way in for millions this year. See you there!

What is Vtime? Just about everything you’ll need to know.

By | Google Plus, Virtual Reality | No Comments


What is Vtime? Well, putting it simply, Vtime is a Sociable Network in Virtual Reality.

A place to connect with new people, and teleport to mind-blowingly cool places.

It is one of my favourite VR experiences.

And it is the closest to ‘real life’ social exchange you can have right now.
As such, I approached the Vtime team for an interview, and some quotes (see below) as to what we can expect.

It is hard to explain 3D in 2D words, but when the time comes I hope this guide helps.

Who is it for?

Anyone who wants to take a leap into how we will be communicating in the future.

What equipment will you need to use it?

You will need Samsung Gear VR (with compatible handset).

Or if you have a compatible device then you get hop in for early access for the Google Cardboard app here.

I asked the team, and they said they will be ‘supporting all major headsets’.
Also worth noting that when using headsets that require a mobile phone to run, there will be a compatibility list that will be limited to newer smartphones, as you’ll need processing power. Obviously the tethered headsets will either need a console or PC with the right specifications to run it.
Finally, in terms of specs – you will need headphones with a built-in microphone. At present, they do not support bluetooth headsets.

What’s it like?

Very cool. Very real.

For instance, when you move your headset, it will move the avatar’s head. But when you’ve entered a space and have other people there too, you can have directional sound – i.e. you will hear someone speaking to your left, and your attention will move there.

There are other very neat features too, including in a cold environment, like a cave or the Antarctic, you may well see your cold breath.

The destinations (think ‘Spaces’)

You’ll begin in ‘The Agora’.

vtime 1

This is me, on the left, having taken the picture using their new ‘Selfie’ feature.

And if you look around any of the destinations, you will see a lot is going on.
(I love the statues in the Agora, for instance)

But from there you can navigate to an ever growing number of Destinations.

Everything from the beach on Paradise Island:

vTime Paradise Island

And then to the Arctic Expedition, with a visiting polar bear (which I still haven’t seen), and an Orca….

vTime Arctic Expedition

Or to The Orbital in space:

vTime The Orbital (1)

To name just a few places you may want to visit. The team says there are more coming in the pipeline.

How to navigate

The Vtime interface is highly intuitive. Really brilliant.

All you really need to know is this: tilt your head back to see a ‘Silver Ball’ appear.
Stay here for a few seconds and a full menu will appear, before letting you select your Avatar, see connections etc.

There is an option at the top that says ‘Random Match’, which is a good place for you to start.

Once you start connecting you’ll begin to have a list of connections you can access from the menu:


This is called ‘Bubble View’, but you can also choose list view by choosing the icon on the upper left, bring up this screen:


Note: you’ll find that gazing for a couple of seconds is the usual way to select an option.

When you have friends for are online in Vtime you will be able to see their location.

Also, one cool thing you’ll find out, when someone who was the ‘host’ leaves, the next person who arrived in that location picks up the crown. What the others don’t know is that they also go back to the silver lined walls of the space aged industrial teleporter, and get to choose where they go next.

This is a nice ‘reset’ on the experience.

The experience, the culture

Know everyone using the platform is an early adopter, so it is all new to everyone.

As such, most people want to know a) your name, and b) when you come from.

The good news for new arrivals is that friendly guides like Will Hart have already emerged with the culture. They can give you some tips.

And as we know, for a sociable platform to succeed, it needs friendly people.

If people don’t have a good first experience they may well not return.

Vtime seems to be doing something right by letting the users build the community from the ground up.

Note: if you use your real name it may well be easier for people to find you on other social platforms. But many people are using pseudonyms (and we know that is ‘ok’, and necessary as an options.)

You’ll find out about new advances in the VR world if you listen to the people there – you are all geeks, exploring. You’ll get recommendations for new apps too.

And if you receive an invite to join someone, then usually they will be friendly.

This is how you meet new people.

Look to add a person as a friend once you’ve chatted for a while.

They will usually accept you.

(you may need to go back to the main menu to do this)

How to add someone as a friend in Vtime:

Look straight ahead, and tilt your head upwards 45 degrees to bring up the ‘silver ball’

Go to the menu, then to ‘Connections’ and see who you are ‘with’ and click on their profile to add as a friend.

The web interface:

You can manage your friends list here and see who of your Facebook friends have arrived.

vtime 10

You’ll also see new friend requests here:

vtime 11

Finding friends via Facebook

This has to be the future right here.

Finding friends via Facebook will the easiest way for you to connect with people, but it will take time for them to arrive.

vtime 12

I mean, I have a load of geeky friends but when I clicked I still got this:

vtime 13

It’ll happen, especially once people can enter the spaces using Google Cardboard.


Virtual meetings are the most obvious application, but I know the Vtime team have plans to have larger events and meeting available.
In other words, we could be looking at hosting virtual conferences before long.

From their team: “I don’t want to give away a full list of possible applications, as it may give our competitors ideas! The opportunity here is endless, as soon as people use vTime their heads start spinning with all the possible use cases. Our users are already using it for dating, meetings, language practice and more. We’ve been approached by myriad companies who can all see how vTime would amplify their current offering, and give them new tools with which to connect to their audience.”

In my view, Vtime will give you a quality VR experience with the ability to connect with people who have taken the leap as well.

What does the future hold?

With vTime, seeing is believing. You need to be in it to get it. In my experience, it’s a great way of understanding the true feeling of VR presence.

Paul Hollywood – Product Director.
And as you can probably tell, I’ve been exploring this territory for a few months now, and the Vtime team keep on adding new features that are keeping my attention.

As such, I asked Paul Hollywood for some extra insights, to which he replied… “To create that feeling of ‘being there’, we’ve used a number of techniques to make people suspend their disbelief; broad brushstrokes of spatial audio and head-rotation tracking, both built on top of stunning visual destinations. We then add extra layers, blending fine details of visual and audio effects, with interaction design always at the forefront of our process.”

I must say, it is mellow but exciting at the same time. New, different. Or in Paul’s words, “These subtle layers that vTime washes over you, plus the spoken words of another user, generate believable social presence that draws you into deeply connected human conversations.”

Paul Hollywood

vTime is a communication tool, the development of which will take us on a journey to many places in the future. In the next few weeks, they say users will be able to share images, videos and 360 media from their devices with others in vTime. They will be giving the community the ability to host events, and will open up the network to those without a VR headset with the forthcoming Spectate Mode. This is going to really increase the user base. So don’t worry, if you haven’t tried it yet you will soon be able to understand this all for yourself, and remember that tip about finding a selfie camera in the Avatar menu – you’ll love that as it is perfect content for Social Media too.

Finally, want to meet with other friendly people? Check out this Google+ Community here, run by Jens Graikowski.


Google Business Listing Review Link Generator

By | Google Plus | No Comments

With the recent changes to Google+ Pages you may be looking for your links to your reviews landing pages.

Well, look no more!
The good people at (and now one of our official partners) have created a super tool to help you get more reviews online, using their ‘Google Business Listing Review Link Generator‘.

Google Reviews Box
This is perfect for a desktop as its creates a landing page where you can send people.
And here is a quick video run through:

Note: you cannot use this for a service area business.

And if you are looking for a good mobile solution then you will want to explore signing up to their service – with loads more neat ways for you to help your customers to tell the world how great you really are.

Access the Google Review Link Generator here. (no log in required)

How does that sound? Hopefully it is most excellent news. Thank you!

Google+ re-design is good for this publisher

By | Google Plus | No Comments
I was just chatting with me old mucker (it is a British thing) James Binns from ‘Minecraft Gallery.
Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.33.28

And in an totally un-scientific test (as we cannot isolate all the variables), we can see an increase in engagement over the past week (the spike):

And James says their views have doubled since the design of Google+, and attributes this to be the reason.

Look at last week:

Compared to the week before:
James says, ‘The work we put into developing our page is really paying off.’
Well, there we have it. New Google+ FTW.

How to add a business to the map on Google (new)

By | Google Plus | No Comments

The easiest way to add a business to the map on Google is by using ‘Google Maps’, especially if you are ‘in the location’.

Also, if the business has a listing then you can claim it, if you haven’t done already.
And if not, you can set one up in just a couple of minutes.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

Once the listing is claimed by the owner, they will be able to manage it in their ‘Google My Business’ app.

Using is still AOK too, but I’ve found the method above to be super quick and easy – as if the app was made for this…

Want help getting your business ‘more Google’? Contact me here.

A quick introduction to Machine Learning

By | Artificial Intelligence, Google Plus | No Comments

Understanding Machine Learning

Machine learning (also popularly called “Deep Learning”), cognitive computing and AI are words that now feature in our daily vocabulary. Yet understanding what they actually mean is not quite as common as you might think.

The closest misapprehension we get is that Deep Learning is some form of artificial intelligence and computers are networked in ways that are like a human brain. Deep Learning is a very weak form of artificial intelligence where a complex algorithm is trained to recognize patterns during a supervised stage which then leads to greater confidence of accuracy in its unsupervised stage.

Considering that I just introduced two new terms trying to explain the first one it will probably be best if we take things from the beginning. The real breakthrough in machine learning has been in the use of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) which are networks of processors (the neural nets in question) structured in an overlapping way where processing redundancies are introduced in an attempt to correct pattern recognition mistakes on the fly and save computing cycle time.

Convolutional neural networks were initially used, with great success, in visual image recognition and have been inspired by the way the human brain processes visual information, but they have since found uses elsewhere, anywhere as a matter of fact where patterns emerge that can lead to a greater understanding of what is being indexed.

When we talk about machine learning we basically imply the use of a convolutional neural network of some kind and an algorithm that goes through two stages: a supervised stage where a human operator helps the algorithm go through masses of data and adjust its understanding of it and then an unsupervised stage where the algorithm is left to work on its own with occasional quality control intervention by a human, as warranted.

If this sounds familiar consider semantic search and Google’s human rater guidelines used to train its algorithms. Similar logic applies to Google’s Voice Search, YouTube recommendation engine and Google’s Image Search.

Deep Learning is not really ‘Deep’

With all these terms out of the way the question is do machines exhibit learning behavior and are they truly intelligent? These are two very different sets of questions. The term “Deep” as applied to “Deep Learning” has often been misinterpreted to mean learning of the same type that the human brain exhibits and that is not what is happening there.

Deep Learning refers to the convolutional neural net architecture where more than two layers of neural networks are involved. Neural nets these days can go pretty deep and what sets them apart from an ordinary computer network is that each stage of the neural net can actually be trained. The intelligence aspect of the behavior is also the result of the network’s architecture where a memory is attached that remembers the results obtained which means the neural network apportions resources to ‘learning’ new stuff by recognizing new patterns. Where the new patterns are derivatives of the patterns it already knows. An example of this is teaching a neural network what a dog is by looking at a few thousand pictures of Alsatians, Labradors and Poodles and then allowing it to understand that “dog” refers also to Pit Bulls, Dobermen and Chihuahuas.

This is not true intelligence in the way humans exhibit it, though within very narrow contexts it’s close enough, especially if a recursive neural network is created where the computational outcomes are fed back into the network (which is why Google Voice Search can hold a conversation with us on Barrack Obama’s marital status and children, without our having to specify the context every time).

Machine Learning Everywhere

Moving forward we will see the use of machine learning everywhere. The uptake is driven by the same reasons that made semantic search a no-brainer: lower cost implementation, greater savings and greater reliability in complex results.

And Google have just opened sourced too:

This will mean that our devices and apps will become ‘smarter’ in the sense that they will now be more responsive to the environment and more focused in the context of our needs when we interact with them. Smarter devices means we can now make better use of information and, as neural networks spread everywhere, better informed decisions and choices.

It is our ability to use information in such a smart way that actually makes us, humans, intelligent.

Want to learn from six weeks of market research into Google My Business?!

By | Google My Business, Google Plus | No Comments

Back in the summer I spent weeks researching Local business, and this was a video with findings after the first 6 weeks.
It has come a lot further from there, but this should give you some idea what Local businesses want – mainly, more customers!

We have a great ‘reviews’ products available, perfect for anyone with a ‘Google My Business’ listing.
Want to know more? Get in touch here!

Getting Emails Organised using Gmail, And More…

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Using Google services to feel even more organised!

Do you ever find yourself weighed down with too many emails? Is much of your day spent dealing with admin tasks? Is your attention pulled away by irrelevant emails etc?
Well, here are a few tips for getting yourself organised online…
Many of you may well already know this, but I suspect many people don’t…

1. Happiness is an empty inbox!

It is great to have your email organised in a way that reduces psychological drag. I use Gmail, which is such a powerful tool when you set it up to suit your needs. The priority inbox setting, for instance, will enable you to see the most important mails. You can then ‘star’ those you want to keep in your sight when you open Gmail.
Whichever way, see how it feels to have an empty inbox compared to unfinished tasks staring at you when you log in.

I used ‘Inbox’ from Google, and run on empty every day (using Snooze to ‘carry over’ to the next day, and ‘Pinned’ to keep focused where I need to be.)

2. Gmail “Filters”

Also, if you are a Gmail user then you can add ‘filters’ that relate to Google+ as well. This gives you control of what grabs your attention. Here is a great advice by Mark Traphagen who explains some more advanced features here.
Understanding how to use Gmail better is something that could well benefit your life through accessing the right information at the right time.

3. Unsubscribe!

Also relating to Gmail, if you haven’t done this yet, consider unsubcribing from historic/irrelevant emails; or a filter so they can sent to spam.

I have just begun using an incredible extension for Chrome. h/t to Jason Joseph put me onto it.
There is so more to it than just this, but I use the desktop notification as a way of grabbing and unsubscribing to them straight away.
Check it out and you’ll see for yourself!

4. Set up your “Daily Circles”

On Google+, you may want to set up your “Daily circles” in a way that allows you to prioritise giving my attention to the people you care for most on Google+. Obvious but sometimes you may need to revisit them to check your attention is going in the right direction for you.

5. Make images searchable

When you download images to your computer, or the cloud (such as Google Drive) consider naming them with something that will help you later when you search. This will save time later.

6. Streamline your workflow. Optimise your setup.

Reduce the amount of effort after a thought arises to achieving what you want. This will reduce the number of ‘clicks’ you have to make as well. One way to do this is to add your favourite links to your browser. I use Chrome and have my most visited sites sitting on the bookmarks bar. This enables less clicks to get to where I want to go, after I think I want to go there!

7. Reduce unnecessary distractions

What else is grabbing your attention that is not benefiting your online life? As many of you will know, I am a big fan of making life psychologically easier for people. Those small irritations of forgetting usernames and passwords (consider using LastPass), or emails grabbing our attention but us having no interest in them, all act as mental attrition to positive mental flow states.
Consider today what is grabbing your attention and yet there is no benefit being derived. This will all help to free your mind of pointless troubles.