Adblockers: A Change In Power In The Digital Advertising Ecosystem?

published by on 6th October 2015 under Digital Advertising, Digital Trends, In The News

AdBlocking – how consolidation in providers could prove very expensive for Google

Adblocking has been around for over ten years but has made its way into the spotlight recently – when Apple announced that it will integrate ad blocking capability on mobile devices in its latest operating system.

Various apps, such as Purify and Ad Block, shot to the top of the Most Downloads Apps list and caused quite a stir in the industry about how exactly ad blocking will mean to digital advertising – for both publishers and ad serving companies. After all, mobile advertising is continually rising with mobile adoption increasing – and such a move will impact their revenue stream.

A recent report by Pagefair, however, has brought some facts that give perspective to the state of ad blocking.


Users of ad blocking is estimated to be around 200 million worldwide

Growth in adblocking


Whilst adoption was relatively steady in the early part of this decade, it is in the past two years where adoption of ad blocking has seen a significant rise. To further put this number into perspective, the report estimates that the cost of ad blocking will be US $41.4B in 2016!


Ad blocking is actually being driven by Desktop adoption, not mobile – and it’s not even close (for now)

According to the report, ad blocking on Desktop devices has a 98% share compared to that of Mobile (including tablet) devices. So whilst the latest buzz is around the iOS adoption, it is important to keep in mind that it only accounts for a tiny fraction of ad blocked devices in use at the moment. (Editors note: It is also acknowledged in this report that mobile share will only increase)


Makers of ad blocking software are now a powerful party in the digital advertising ecosystem – forcing larger advertisers like Google to “play ball”

Popular Chrome and Safari ad block extension Adblock – with a reported user base of 40 million – was sold bought by Adblock Plus (no relation to Ad block). If you were a user of the extension, as of October 2nd, you’d be presented with the following screen:


Acceptable Ads program

The main takeaway from such a message is that ad blocking is now being commoditised.

There’s a few interesting points with this acquisition…


  • Larger ad blockers have recognized how allowing “acceptable ads” from certain publishers is a major revenue stream

Advertisers that are part of the program include Amazon and Google. Keep in mind that in Q2 2015, Google websites (which includes Search) generated US $12.4 billion!  (that’s approx. US $138 million a day!)

Adblock Plus states that being part of the Acceptable Ads program is free….for small to medium businesses. Their website states that they are “paid for supportive services by some larger entities”.

Hypothetically, let’s assume Google pays Adblock Plus 0.0001% of its revenue stream as above. That still equates to US $1.24 million per quarter!  And that’s only from Google.


  •  Ad blocking providers, while currently largely fragmented, will become consolidated

Such a (potential) revenue stream becoming more evident, it will only lead to more consolidation in the digital ecosystem. This could potentially be a big issue for large advertisers (such as Google).  Consolidation means more leverage and membership into programs such as “Acceptable Ads” could prove to be very expensive for such advertisers.


Final Thoughts

At a user level, it would seem as if the idea of having their web experience free of advertising is a thing of the past with the emergence of such program as the Acceptable Ads program. The real impact will “more-likely-than-not” be felt at the advertiser / publisher level and they’re taking action to overcome this. If so, it represents quite a shift in who holds the most power (and perhaps, leverage) in the digital advertising ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between digital advertisers and ad blocker develops in the medium to long term.


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7 Creative Content Ideas To Boost Your Ecommerce Site Conversions

published by on 28th September 2015 under Content Marketing, eCommerce

7 Creative Content Marketing Ideas For Your Ecommerce Site


It’s not enough to think of online retail sites as simply online catalogues anymore. More and more brands are moving towards adopting an experience-driven ecommerce site that will help increase conversions and build a stronger brand engagement.

With increasing customer expectations, constantly evolving devices and ever-changing markets, there is an urgent need for brands to offer differentiated online experiences that offer value beyond the product itself. This is where content marketing comes in.

In a research conducted by Econsultancy, content marketing is the priority for budget spend in 2015. This shows that companies see the value of creating high quality content for driving eCommerce sales and growth.

By high quality content, I mean content that builds relationships with your customers. Your content is what helps you get found online, build trust with your audience, educate and inform them as a pathway to conversions, and sustain ongoing and profitable relationships with loyal customers. By investing more in your customers, you are setting up your brand for returning buyers rather than one time customers.

So how are ecommerce sites employing this critical part of their digital marketing strategy?

Take a look at seven examples of online retailer brands and see how you can use creative content marketing for your ecommerce site.


1. Huckberry: Blog

Huckberry is an independent online retailer and magazine for adventurous guys. Millions of young and active young professionals consider Huckberry as a leading resource for emerging brands, gear, and lifestyle inspiration.

Sure, any ecommerce site could feature a blog, but there’s something special about Huckberry’s blog, The Journal.  Aside from offering unique products, you’ll find stories behind those products along with original and exceptional content that stays true to their company’s mission of inspiring more active, adventurous and stylish lives through exclusive sales, original storytelling and authentic experiences. Now, that’s one sure way to get your ecommerce blog noticed.


Huckberry The Journal


2. Reebok: Interactivity

Content has evolved into something that your viewers can interact with in a multitude of different ways. One of these ways is through interactivity.

Rebook’s ‘Be More Human’ campaign is focused on encouraging customers to challenge themselves and achieve their fullest potential. The site’s interactive features include: calculating your ‘human score’, discovering how fitness feeds the brain and uploading in instagram post-workout selfies in the ‘break your selfie’ gallery. An impressive way of engaging customers, Reebook manages to smoothly channel visitors from content to commerce.




3. Glassons: User-generated content

These days, it’s all about user-generated content. Anyone who visits a site want to see real customers of the brand who uses the products. In the same way, existing customers want a way to share their experiences and love for the products. You can easily close the loop between online and offline by encouraging your customers to socially share their offline experiences.

A New Zealand based women’s fashion retailer, Glassons takes advantage of this with their inclusion of real-life Instagram photos from happy customers. Now, isn’t that a fun and better way of showing your products in a real setting on real people?




4. Hallenstein Brothers: Product video

According to a survey, video can help persuade 73% of customers to buy from you. Findings show that videos play an important role in decision-making process during all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Housed under the Hallenstein Glasson Holdings Limited together with Glassons, Hallenstein Brothers is a New Zealand retailer of men’s wear. It includes videos in the product page of some of its offered products. This allows potential customers to know more about the product apart from reading the text descriptions through videos that show a 360 view of the product on the models.

Hallenstein Brothers


5. Apolis: Value proposition – Social advocacy

According to a study by Nielsen, a brand’s social advocacy is one of the factors that influence purchase decisions. The study pointed out that online consumers are willing to pay more for products made by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

Apolis, which translates to ‘global citizen’, is more than just a lifestyle brand catering to the trendy wanderer who likes his pieces both functional and refined. It’s a social enterprise with a business model that bridges commerce and economic development. In the content it creates, Apolis always stresses ethical, human stories behind all of their pieces.



6. Woot: Product descriptions

An online retailer that offers daily deals for homeware, electronics, clothing, sporting goods, wine and other various items, Woot injects humor in its product descriptions. By being creative with something as simple as product descriptions, Woot becomes not your typical run-of-the-mill ecommerce site. It gets visitors excited and keeps them coming back to the site for something new and different.


Woot wine


7. Onnit: Education

If you really think about it, most customers don’t care about the products as much as they care about themselves. This simply means that majority of the information on your site should not just be about yourself – your brand. You need to produce content that fulfills the needs and caters to the interests of your customers. In that way, you build a trusted and emotional connection with them.

More than selling health and nutrition related products online which includes supplements, foods and fitness equipment, Onnit offers its customers an online database called Onnit Academy. It’s a comprehensive collection of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts. Additionally, Onnit has it’s own podcast that features interviews with experts in the health and fitness industry.


Onnit Academy



Content is what makes your site stand out from the crowd. It’s the material you produce to inspire existing customers and the audience you hope to reach. Provide your online users with content that helps solve their problems to position your company as a valued partner rather than simply as an online catalogue store. The more information you provide, the easier it is for them to validate that they are getting exactly what they need.

The ecommerce sites mentioned above are taking advantage of the power of content. They’re killing it – and you can, too. Boost your search results, build your brand, inspire your audience, and become an authority – all with the help of great content.

Harness the power of content marketing and get the results that matter to your bottom line. Give us a call today at +64 9 920 1740 or email us. We’d be happy to chat about your specific needs. 



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7 Ways To Call A/B Tests With Confidence

published by on 17th September 2015 under Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Digital Strategy



We all know that A/B testing is one of the best ways to improve your conversion rate. By applying the scientific method – exposing your variation to a subset of your website visitors while maintaining a control group – you can determine what the impact of your change is likely to be.

At FIRST we’ve run hundreds of A/B tests and improved conversion rates for dozens of clients. We also subscribe to many of the leading conversion publications to keep track of the latest research and case studies of winning tests. However, we often find that these tests are declared ‘winners’ even when they might not be.

To illustrate this, here’s an example from a test we recently ran for one of our clients…


This test ran on one of New Zealand’s highest traffic websites and consisted of the original web page plus three variations. After one week the test had shown to thousands of visitors and each variation had resulted in hundreds of conversions. The variation shown in the red line was winning by 6.9% and our A/B testing tool gave this result a statistical confidence of 99%. Clear winner, right?

Wrong. We continued running this test for a few more weeks and look at what happened to the results…



The ‘winning’ variation, represented by the red line, continued to converge with the other variations until there was almost no difference between them. After six weeks the variation we initially thought was the winner was only 0.9% up on the original at 76% confidence.

The implications of this are important to realise. Significant agency and client resources can be invested in uncovering customer insights, designing new variations, running tests and hard coding winning variations, yet if results are not interpreted properly then it all falls over.

Part of the problem lies in the time it can take to realise a true, statistically valid outcome. We’re all impatient to see results, particularly for a test we’re excited about. However, most tests require more time than they are given to reach their conclusion. This is particularly the case in a country like New Zealand where a smaller population means that many sites have limited traffic.


Use a sample size calculator

To see how long your test needs to run, use a tool like Optimizely’s sample size calculator. Then use your web analytics system to determine how many visitors are likely to be exposed to your test and how many days it will take to reach your required sample size.


Sample size calculator

If the required sample size is too large, don’t worry. There are ways to design your tests that will help you to get results much, much faster:


1. Test big changes

Instead of tweaking one thing on your page, create a brand new page that incorporates many changes at once. Big, bold changes will generate results much faster and can improve your conversion rates in leaps instead of increments.


2. Test on pages closer to your conversion end point

In many cases the home page is simply too far away from your end conversion point for your variation to make a big enough difference. Instead, test pages in your purchase funnel such as your shopping cart or payment page.


3. Test things that are more likely to influence conversion

Try to find those elements of your website that really drive conversion. For example, visitors are probably more concerned about ‘free delivery’ than the colour of your button, so find and test these elements instead.


4. Track micro-conversions

Instead of basing an experiment on how the variation ultimately influences purchases, why not base it on how well it moves the visitor one step further down the funnel? You are more likely to see the influence of your variation on goals that are closer to where the test takes place.


5. Track groups of goals together

If you have a contact page with a contact form, email addresses and social media buttons, don’t track these individually. Instead create a single goal that is triggered by clicks on any of these elements. That way, you’ll consolidate the impact of the test on one single goal instead of diluting it among many.


6. Filter out visitors not exposed to your variation

Testing a pop-up window? Then make sure visitors are only opted into the test when they click the button that opens the window – not before. This will stop you diluting your results with visitors that aren’t actually get influenced by your variation. Use precise URL targeting or specific techniques provided by your A/B testing platform to activate experiments exactly when you need.


7. Accept more risk

A confidence level of 95% is considered the industry benchmark. However, decreasing the confidence level will reduce the time it takes to run a test. Consider whether this increased risk is compensated by the increased speed at which you can run and call tests.


FIRST are Conversion Experts

Regardless of the amount of traffic on your site, a smart conversion optimisation consultant will be able to design tests that maximise impact with minimal time. If you’re interested in taking your A/B testing programme to the next level, contact the team at FIRST today for a free no-obligation quote.


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New Zealand Facebook Demographics and Usage Statistics [Infographic]

published by on 16th September 2015 under Facebook, Social Media Marketing

To update our last year’s post on Facebook Demographics- New Zealand Age Distribution and Gender, we’ll be presenting some interesting developments and statistics on the usage and reach of Facebook in New Zealand for 2015.


Kiwis on Facebook

According to Nielsen, back in 2012, Facebook has a unique audience of over 2.7 million Kiwis who visit the site making it the top ranking social media site in New Zealand. With 80% percent of the online New Zealand population visiting the Facebook site, New Zealand has the highest proportion of the online population who visit the social networking site in comparison to Australia (74%), the US (69%) and the UK (68%).

So, how many Kiwis are on Facebook and how are they using it in 2015?

We prepared an infographic that will walk you through the key 2015 NZ Facebook Statistics - demographics, usage and trends, based on a study conducted by Nielsen as commissioned by Facebook.

 NZ Facebook Demographics and Usage Statistics Infographic



The numbers speak clearly: More and more Kiwis are using Facebook and this platform remains the goliath of social media. Website ranking data shows that Facebook is the third most popular site in New Zealand next to and Needless to say, more businesses are spending more, moving their budgets away from traditional advertising platforms, and increasing their social spending. Why? Because Facebook Advertising gives you the opportunity to engage at a deeper level with your target audience.

Over the years, Facebook has improved its targeting and tracking capabilities and developed an advanced analytics back-end to ensure marketers get good returns on their advertising spend. New features are constantly introduced for more laser-focused ads such as conversion lift to better measure the impact that Facebook ads have in driving businesses; and product ads to advertise the right products to the right people.

So, are you ready to grow your business through Facebook Advertising? You should be – as we’ve shown above, Facebook is a powerful and effective advertising platform. If you want to know more about Facebook Advertising or running cost-effective, performance based online advertising campaigns in general, then don’t hesitate to give us a call.


Optimise your advertising and get the results that matter to your bottom line! Give us a call today at +64 9 920 1740 or email us. We’d be happy to chat about your specific needs.


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The Missing Piece To Your Digital Strategy Is Your Customer

published by on 10th September 2015 under Digital Strategy

 The Missing Piece To Your Digital Strategy Is Your Customer

The customer experience component of any brand simply cannot be ignored. Gone were the days wherein online marketing was relatively straightforward where you simply had a good enough website and a basic email marketing strategy in place to survive in the marketplace. However, the proliferation of devices and online platforms have radically changed the way customers interact with your brand.

Today’s digitally empowered customers go through multiple touchpoints and complex paths to purchase. As the customers’ journey becomes increasingly complex, managing customer experiences across multiple channels and devices is a big challenge for most brands. While most brands recognize the need for customer centricity – not all understand what that actually means.


What does it mean to become customer-focused?

A brand that focuses on the customer builds a business model around a deep understanding of its customers, what they value and the contribution each makes to growing the bottom line. This entails:

  • Fostering a culture that places the customer at the heart of the decision-making process - You need to ground your brand’s value proposition firmly on your customers.
  • Maintaining an active dialogue with customers and responding to feedback - Following the customer journey from pre-engagement to post-purchase, constantly listening to, and learning how, different customers interact with your brand can unlock new ways to interact with customers.
  • Developing strategies and processes that recognize the needs of different customer segments - Integrating multiple data sources and continuously refining customer segmentation approaches can identify and serve the customer segments that matter to you.
  • Providing a positive and seamless customer experience at every touch point across the customer’s journey - Engaging customers across multiple channels, devices and platforms, gaining deep insights, and seamlessly acting on them can create differentiated customer experiences that build your brand, gain market share and competitive advantage.


The next question is: “How can you leverage your digital platforms to better engage with your customers – better and faster than your competitors?”




Harnessing The Power of Digital

Data analytics has become integral in designing a seamless end-to-end customer experience. It is important for you to understand what drives customer satisfaction for every customer segment. What attributes of their experience (price, accessibility, availability, response times, etc.) will have the most impact on providing a positive experience. Similarly, you need to know what is not driving value, to make the needed changes and improvements and effectively reduce cost.

For true omni-channel success, brands need a 360-degree view of the customers’ interactions across all channels, devices and platforms to monitor channel preference, customer behaviour and journeys from the customers’ point of view. Much of the analysis can now occur in real time, giving you actionable insights at the right moment.

Below is a diagram from Smart Insights that shows six steps that put the customer at the heart of every stage of your digital strategy. The article starts by emphasizing the importance of understanding who your target customers are, how they interact with your brand and what they want from you. It then explains the steps you need to ultimately change how you do business.


Why a digital strategy is a customer strategy


Most customers want access to a mix of online and personal interaction throughout the customer journey. Digital is a critical driving force to deliver the experience customers want. As pointed out in the diagram, an effective integration of channels across marketing, sales and service activities is important in providing a positive, brand-building customer experience at every touch point in the customer relationship journey. As digital channels continue to grow in importance, you need to define a strategy for integrating these touch points as part of your brand’s overall business model.



Any strategy, digital or not, is driven by your customers’ needs. Smart business decisions are made by looking through the customer experience lens. Since digital experiences are becoming the primary type of experience for most customers, it is imperative to drive investment in getting the needed data, insights and technologies to connect brands and customers more intimately.


To get you started on developing a customer-centric digital strategy, check out our Special Limited Time Offer!

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