Santa Tracker 2008: Google & NORAD Team Up Again

NORAD Tracks Santa 2008My favorite Christmas activity is tracking Santa’s route around the world. Once again, NORAD and Google are making it easy. The NORAD Tracks Santa 2008 site is now up, and a countdown for your iGoogle home page can now be downloaded. Google just blogged the news today. Below, what to expect.

NOTE: For the latest news on 2012 Santa tracking, see our post: Where’s Santa Claus? The 2012 Santa Tracker List, From NORAD To Google, From The Web To Apps

NORAD — you know, the missile tracking people — might seem an unlikely group to track Santa. But they’ve been doing it for over 50 years, thanks to a misprinted phone number.

Currently the site has little more than a countdown until Christmas and a Club Penguin-like online game area. On Christmas Eve, that will change dramatically. To better understand, see my Instructions On Tracking Santa With NORAD & Google: The 2007 Edition post from last year.

To summarize from that post, Santa’s route will be illustrated based on the current time, as in this screenshot from last year:

NORAD Tracking Santa

In some places, you see a video icon. Clicking on them will make a window appear where you can play a video, like this:

Santa In New Zealand

Below is a video of some of the various locations all blended into one:

All these videos will eventually get posted to the NORAD channel on YouTube, but you’ll get disappointed if you head there now. The channel has been disabled no doubt to prevent people from getting an early look. Similarly, the playlist of videos from last year is still alive but none of the videos will actually play.

Aside from the videos, NORAD will also offer a special file for use with Google Earth, so that he can be tracked in 3D, like this:

Santa In Google Earth

The file will be posted here. Right now, there’s only a link to download Google Earth, but the additional file you need will be posted on Christmas Eve. Can’t wait? You might try using last year’s file here.

Out-and-about on Christmas Eve? There’s a new mobile Santa tracking option being offered for anyone with Google Maps For Mobile.

And feeling old fashioned about your phone? You can actually just call and talk to a real live human being for a Santa update. Email is also accepted.

Finally, a last public plea. As I said last year, I’m begging NORAD to offer “parent mode” for the site. Santa only appears near a particular location an hour before midnight. But little kids often go to sleep well before midnight. If you want them in bed on Christmas Eve, showing them that Santa is flying nearby is an excellent way get them to scurry off under the covers.

So please, NORAD, let me say it’s bedtime for my particular location and see Santa flying nearby when it makes sense for me (and other parents).

Happy Holidays!

NOTE: For the latest news on 2012 Santa tracking, see our post: Where’s Santa Claus? The 2012 Santa Tracker List, From NORAD To Google, From The Web To Apps

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Earth | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Marketing | Search Engines: Santa Tracker | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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