Tracking Santa: NORAD & Google Team Up For Christmas

Google Santa Tracker For iGoogle

Every year, I enjoy helping my kids track the approach of Santa Claus through the NORAD site, as I’ve written about before. This year, Google’s getting in on the action. You’ll be able to track Santa in Google Earth on Christmas Eve with the help of a special file. You can also download a countdown for your iGoogle home page that Google offers here.

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

Didn’t Google already partner with NORAD on tracking Santa last year? Unofficially, in that it hid gifts within Google Earth for people to locate. This year, NORAD itself is working with Google to do something special within Google Earth.

If you’ve never seen it, what happens in the past at the NORAD site is that you can see Santa flying over various landmarks, with a new one appearing as midnight approaches in each part of the world. Here’s a clip that Mashable spotted showing what’s happened in the past:

It sounds like Google Earth will have those animations built in this year, if you download the extra information needed. Google says the right file will be posted to the NORAD site on Christmas Eve, and I suspect it will also show up on this special Google Earth Santa Tracker page.

A special request from a parent! My kids — like many others — go to sleep way before midnight on Christmas Eve. To help them sleep when they’re all restless, it’s great to show them that Santa’s approaching, so they better get to bed (it works like a charm). But that means you need the Santa videos for your area to show up around 7 or 8pm local time, not midnight!

As a long-time user of the NORAD site, I know how to guess where the right file location is for our area and time-shift appropriately. But make it easier! Give us a “kids’ bedtime” option so that Santa is being spotted around the time when they’re about to go to sleep, rather than midnight.

The iGoogle gadget looks to be very helpful. Above, I’ve shown how it looks in action, showing the current countdown. But on Christmas Eve, it looks like it will change to show Santa’s current location:

Google Santa Tracker For iGoogle


Back to the NORAD site, it looks like they’ve added Club Penguin-like games that can be played in the run-up to Christmas; they’re nothing too fancy but are likely to entertain young ones.

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: iGoogle | Google: Marketing | Search Engines: Santa Tracker


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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