In association with Search Republic

The allure of unsexy marketing

Their business has been called the ‘unsexy side of marketing’ by one of New Zealand’s leading business publications, but the partners of Auckland-based digital marketing firm Search Republic aren’t bothered. Two years after launch, the search-based consultancy is delivering outstanding – and seductive – results. And it’s only just getting started.

By StopPress Team | February 11, 2016 | Sponsored content

Search Republic is not your average ad agency, as general manager Brad Guthrie will happily tell you, because your average ad agency isn’t putting millions of its own money on the line to test and refine its strategies. “We’ve grown out of a huge amount of trial and error, experimentation and testing,” says Guthrie. “The company spends over $10 million of its own money every year on search engine marketing and we get to apply all the learnings from this investment into our clients’ businesses. 

“We’re not a one-size-fits-all digital solution either. We look at every client individually and customise a strategy that fits their sales and marketing goals.” 

Perhaps this unique strategy comes from the company’s unique beginnings. Search Republic started life as Online Republic, a New Zealand-based global e-commerce travel business with $200 million a year in sales. Co-founder Mike Ballantyne recognized the extensive digital marketing capabilities built to succeed in the cutthroat online travel world, would also be highly beneficial for other Kiwi businesses. 

So, together with ex-Googler Brad Guthrie and SEO and analytics guru Isreal Hartley, Ballantyne launched Search Republic, and Kiwi businesses quickly caught onto the vision. Search Republic now delivers businesses of all shapes and sizes digital search results that give them a winning edge, whether that’s in search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), conversion rate optimization (CRO), content marketing, social media or marketing directly aimed to international audiences. 

AA Finance – Turbocharging conversion rates

Opportunity:  Approached by car loan specialist AA Finance to run its paid search marketing, Search Republic quickly identified an opportunity for optimization, particularly around the company’s online application form for both desktop and mobile.

Solution: “Search Republic let us know very early on that there were opportunities to improve our website’s conversion funnel – especially around our online enquiry form,” says AA Finance general manager David McLister. “As soon as our new form went live
we saw a huge 175-percent jump in conversion rate and the average cost per conversion dropped 26 percent.”

Key stats:

  • 175 percent increase in desktop conversion rate.
  • 160 percent increase in mobile conversion rate.
  • 25.9 percent decrease in loan application costs. 

Continue Reading

Big results for blue chip brands

Search Republic’s unique application to digital marketing has seen it attract some of the big guns in New Zealand business: ASB, Trust Power, Sorted, AA Finance, Auckland Zoo and Auckland Art Gallery are all customers. The company has also recently worked with a prominent tourism business to double the return from its ad spend.

“Trustpower is another great example of how targeted search science can really turn a company’s online results around,” says head of SEO and analytics Isreal Hartley. “Before we took the business on, Trustpower hadn’t done much with paid search. After working with them for about 18 months, we’ve seen an increase of more than 100 percent in overall traffic to their website.

“One of our biggest successes was the creation of targeted ads based on region, days of the week, and even specific times of day when conversions are higher,” says Hartley. “The strategy resulted in Trustpower’s website traffic doubling and a huge increase in the number of calls to its call centres from new customers.”

Huge SEO wins for cruise sale finder

Cruise Sale Finder, the largest cruise holiday booking site in Australasia, wanted to increase organic traffic to its website while improving revenue and profitability too. Search Republic audited the company’s existing website then implemented SEO best-practice including URL and site structure changes and keyword research. It built website authority with additional content and through quality backlinks, and fixed technical issues related to indexing. As a result, in just the last quarter organic website traffic increased by 58 percent, while transactions and revenue increased by 32 percent and 29 percent respectively.

Unsexy maybe… but successful

Digital marketing, and the science behind search especially, can be hard for some businesses to get their heads around. But in order to compete in most industries, it’s becoming increasingly important to do it well.

“Our team has specialist knowledge of highly measurable marketing disciplines,” Guthrie says. “We drive and measure real ROI based on real numbers – we don’t just chalk up, or talk up, results as increased brand awareness. 

“We’re scientific, rigorous and uncompromising on driving ROI. If that makes us unsexy, so be it. But strong returns on each dollar spent are very seductive for our clients.”

For more information about how strategic search and digital marketing could impact your business, contact Brad Guthrie on or (09) 950 2633, or visit

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Sponsored content

Flight of fancy: Bauer and Air New Zealand's publishing partnership above the clouds

It’s one of the most widely read magazines in New Zealand and yet its cover spends most of its life hidden from public view. So ...

Results for

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.


Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit