SXSW 2012 Guy Kawasaki and Vic Gundotra


Guy Kawasaki’s Fireside Chat with Vic Gundotra on Google+

#sxsw #google+

Howdy all! So I’m dusting off the Useful Usability blog, sorry for the delay in blogging. What with being VP of online strategy, moving to Austin, and being President of the Austin Chapter of the UPA I’ve sort of run myself out of time to do any blogging. Sorry all! I’ll try to fix that!

Guy Kawasaki and Vic Gundotra
Guy Kawasaki and Vic Gundotra

So, this is me live blogging #SXSW 2012. And this is you reading a pretty cool fireside chat (minus the fire, what gives?) with Guy Kawasaki and Google+ czar Vic Gundotra. Without further ado let’s dive in!

Guy: What’s Google plus?

Vic: At its simplest level it’s a social layer across all of Google’s services. Vic says Google is all about taking things like photos from space and enabling you to see your backyard, making the extraordinary ordinary, like navigate to a museum using Google mobile.

Google looked at services and knew people used them every day. But the problem is they didn’t know who the user was and what was important to them and their family or friends. If we can build a common notion of what’s important to you, we can make Google better.

But the challenges are many people have trouble understanding that. Vic shows a Harpers weekly illustration from 1892 which looks like a duck, or a bunny. The point is, what we see is heavily influenced by our experiences. You can see a bird, or you can see a bunny during Easter.

So the idea is to build a layer to help us understand you better.

Vic: What if we only knew one bit of information about you, like you were a vegetarian. Well, if you search for restaurants we would highlight search results of restaurants that are vegetarian restaurants, or show restaurants via mobile.

Guy: But are you still not doing things that are evil?

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Vic: No, with one click you can leave Google and go to a competitor. Google circles is a privacy feature because you can build groups of family, or acquaintance, which enables better privacy.

Guy: Where are you in Metrics?

Vic: How many use Google+ was the old way we tracked Google+ adoption. But, the new way is we switched our metrics to better determine usage. How many users come back monthly and daily. Daily, 150 Million daily actives. About a 100 Million monthly usages. This is the fastest growing service we’ve ever had in Google.

Guy: 100 Million people have come back in 30 days and done something, right?

Vic: yes, we call this Google 2.0 because it’s not silos of Google services. Instead, we know you so now we show you things that are important to you. Gmail is mail from your circles, Youtube is videos from your circle, etc.

With our competitor, they don’t take into account your likes, or other information. Wait until you see what’s coming next.

Guy: What do you say to people who come to Google+ and have no circles, where are they getting that?

Vic: You have to use it correctly. You can share either privately or publicly. The majority of content shared on Google+ is in private circles. You may not be seeing that, but it might be there is no activity because you are not in one of the more trusted circles.

Guy: Scoble says “I check on this but nobody posted anything, why would Google say I should follow someone that doesn’t post anything.”

Vic: For celebrities, just like for people, the majority of content shared is private. You have to get into the circles to see the sharing and content.

Guy: Will my stuff have ads?

Vic: Not today. But we will serve ads in the future, but more relevant ads. We think there’s a big difference between us and our competitors. When you share a photo of your daughter it’s not best to share an ad, we only do it with commercial intent.

Guy: The Facebook album rip-off of you has ads, and yours don’t have ads, is that right?

Audience laughter

Vic: It’s like going to a game to watch the game, and not ads. When you socialize with friends and family that’s not the best place to show ads. So we won’t have ads in the Google+ album. We will show ads when they are searching or restaurants, not when they socialize that there’s a good restaurant with their family.

We closely track user behavior. Cannon came out with a new camera. Previous if you searched we would show you articles. But if you use Google plus what we surface is commentary about the new camera, if someone in your circles who’s a cannon enthusiast mentions it we will show that.

Guy: How many turn personalization off?

Vic: Small amount, but we’ve made it right on the top to turn on or turn off personalization.  We are connecting people in new ways, and this is an effort that’s just a few months old, 6 months.

Guy: what’s with the API?

Audience applause

Vic: You can blame me. I don’t want to do it. I’ve seen people open up and make a new eco system, but then if we turn it off or change it everyone gets mad. And we are still working on it, it’s not ready. We are not going to open up write access because a 3rd party injecting content into that might overwhelm the stream.

Guy: When can I share with an Android phone?

Vic: You can already. How many here in the audience share from Android to Google+, (hands go up, but Guy says it’s just Google employees). Vic says there’s lots doing it. But audience disagrees. (ICS banter which lost me. Sorry, I’m not an API dude).

Vic: I’m not going to release the API, because if I revoke it that’s a terrible experience for developers.

Vic explains that he’s not going to release the API unless (maybe with asterisks) that things may change. But he feels because the stream is still not perfect he doesn’t want to release it yet.

Guy: Does everyone see my post at the same time?

Vic: The comments are real time. Google+ is real time, which causes a fluid conversation. For most people posts are realtime. But as you climb in following we have to fan-out posts across the users, so it’s near real time. Suggested user list is a great way for new users to get used to G+.

Guy: Talk to me about spam. I had a nice stream for a while, it started nice, but now it’s a beautiful pool which gets wrecked by spam, just like turds in the pool like Caddyshack. If I post 9pm pacific time I get crap, so I don’t post then. What are you doing about spam?

Vic: The same gmail spam team is working on Google+. We’ve made great progress, we’ve changed the tone of conversations, but are doing this with cultural differences included. Short comments are ok in some cultures, but not others, we’re working on that. Likewise real spam is out there and we’re capturing that and hiding it away. We identify algorithmically, then hide it. This is a machine algorithm, we look at age of account, we can see if someone is following someone and posting the same link. Some spammers use real humans, but we are getting better at tracking that. You can also report spam, and that helps us detect spam.

Guy: How do you stop a false positive? What happens if someone reports you because they disagree with you?

Vic: Actually very few people do that. But even if they do that we don’t take just one signal. We use multiple ways to see what’s abuse. If we get a false positive, you can ask us to restore. We take that very seriously and trace everything back to the point of origination.

Guy: Is there going to be a Google+ edgerank?

Vic: If someone is following you, if they click on a circle, we always show everything. The only place we do ranking is the stream view letting you have control with the slider.  We think this helps Google better understand what’s important to you.

Audience questions: Google gives you the ability to correct what you know about us?

Vic: Yes, you can go into your profile and change settings.

Q: Identity, support for pseudonyms?

Vic: Yes, we are working to support those.

Q: How do you know that Guy is Guy?

Vic: Today we have a rudimentary system, a celebrity for example we use out of bant (or band) systems to verify that. We are working on more scalable solutions of stronger identify for those that want that. But we won’t have that for a while.

Q: There is a new Google reader by hivemind which popped up because of lack of sharing.

Vic: There are communities that get passionate behind a product, but when you shut it down it can cause difficult decisions.

Q: Commercial intent, it’s the filter for advertising why not on YouTube?

Vic: Answer, historically Google services were siloed, so our advertisements will get better everywhere, including Youtube because of data we have from Google+

Q: Hangouts, why are you building them they must be expensive.

Vic: We looked at video conferencing. Why don’t families connect?

1. Expensive, ok, we make it free.

2. Complicated, using software and hardware, we made ours browser.

3rd is Social, what if someone rejects you? You won’t go to neighbor and knock on door to say “hi”. But 2 or 3 people on the porch and you feel compelled to walk up to them and say hi. In circles, if there’s 2-3 people, and people go to the hangout because there are people there, that stimulates usage of Hangout. We provide hangout free.

We want Google to empower passionate people to do amazing things.

Vic: Social annotation of an ad. If a friend of yours in the circle plus one’s an ad, like a charity for clean water, and you see it, you are more likely to click the ad. We are seeing click through rate are higher by 5-10% increase in CTR.

And with that the session ends!

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