First Thing Monday 23 Feb ’15

This week: Is this Google mistake costing you business?; Facebook takes on Google; New AdWords “Call Only” ads; & NZ digital ad spend hits record levels

  1. Is this Google mistake costing you business?
  2. Facebook takes on Google Shopping, announcing new Product Ads
  3. New Google Ad Format – “Call Only”
  4. NZ digital ad spend hits record levels

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC Advertising & Web Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

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1.Is this Google mistake costing you business?

Occasionally you may have noticed search results with the warning notice from Google “This site may have been hacked”, like the example below.


And if you have seen these, chances are that the very last thing you’ll have done is click on that particular search result. This is a great service from Google that protects users from visiting websites where their computer can become infected with viruses or other malware.

Unfortunately late last week Google released an updated hacked page classifier for its search results which contained a bug. As a result some sites are being misclassified as hacked when they haven’t been. Google have acknowledged the issue.

Why should you care?
If your website is one of these sites to have been incorrectly identified as being hacked, then it’s likely you’ve had a massive drop in organic visits from Google over the last week. And this will be costing you lost business.

Google are downplaying the number of sites impacted by this bug. but it would be prudent to immediately review your web analytics data to check your site isn’t one of them. Also do some sample searches to check that results aren’t being returned for your website with the “This site may have been hacked” warnings.

If you’re unlucky enough to have affected, and you’re confident your site hasn’t been hacked, you can complete an online form here and Google will review your site.

2. Facebook takes on Google Shopping, announcing new Product Ads

Retailers now have a new advertising option when targeting Facebook users – Product Ads.

Product Ads will show in the Facebook News Feed. As well as reaching potential new customers by interest, location, age or gender, these ads can be targeted to people who have already visited a company website or app, or who are in a company’s Custom Audience list.


Announcing the new ad format, Facebook described Product Ads as enabling businesses to promote multiple products or their entire product catalogue “across all the devices their customers use: phones, tablets and desktop computers.” And, like Google Shopping, Facebook’s ad platform will detect when products are out of stock and stop advertising them.

Product Ads are now available via API access, and will become available through Facebook Power Editor in the coming weeks.

Why should you care?
With Google Shopping still yet to be made available in New Zealand, online retailers here will be interested in Facebook Product Ads. We expect Product Ads to be particularly effective when targeted to Custom Audiences or used in retargeting campaigns.

3. New Google AdWords Format – “Call Only” mobile ads

Google has introduced Call-only campaigns, a new AdWords ad format for advertisers who simply want people to call them, rather than visit a website first.

In a blog post, AdWords Product Manager Amit Agarwal described Call-only campaigns as “a new and easy way for businesses to reach potential customers by prominently showing your phone number, business description and call button — right when people are searching”.

When Call-only ads are clicked on, the advertiser phone number is loaded into the phone for calling. Google charges advertisers when the ad is clicked, not for the phone call.

PhoneA Phone-for-katie_vt_1

Why should you care?
In introducing Call-only campaigns, Google stated that 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results. This new ad format recognises that fact, and will appeal to any business that is heavily dependent on phone calls. However, other businesses too should test to see if certain search terms on mobile devices are best dealt with via a call centre or a website visit.

4. NZ digital ad spend hits record levels

Last week the NZ Interactive Advertising Bureau (IABNZ) released digital advertising figures for 2014. Digital ad spend grew 25 percent in 2014 to total $589m – the highest ever for New Zealand.

This eclipsed the amount spent on newspaper advertising and is estimated by the IAB to be about $45m less than what was spent on TV advertising. Growth of 22-25% is expected in 2015, which should mean online advertising spend in NZ will overtake TV this year – already the case in markets like UK and Australia.


As the pie chart below shows, search continues to be the digital channel where advertisers invest most online ad spend. Search spend grew a massive 54% in 2014 and most of this will have been spent with Google. Social media advertising spend in 2014 was minor compared to other digital channels, although with the new advertising options being offered, in particular by Facebook, we expect to see strong growth this year.


The other area of note was mobile advertising spend, jumping 119% from $5.6m in 2013 to $12.2m in 2014. Whilst this was the highest % growth of any channel, it still only accounts for 2% of total online spend. We expect mobile to be a huge area of growth in 2015 as NZ plays catch up with markets like Australia, where mobile advertising accounts for over 17% of online ad spend. Globally, mobile is now the main driver of ad spend growth &, according to projections by ZenithOptimedia, will contribute 51% of all new ad spend by 2017.

Why should you care?
The growth in online ad spend shows NZ businesses have finally woken up to the fact that the media consumption habits of consumers have changed and to reach them advertising budgets are increasingly being reallocated from traditional offline advertising channels.

Figures from IAB are helpful because they give you a big picture view of where competing advertisers are focusing their spend. If you’re currently planning budgets for the coming financial year we suggest you ensure sufficient money is allocated into online – in particular search & mobile. Then we would say that…  😉

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

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About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.

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