NMPi to Acquire Creative Specialist, Joystick

Today, we are delighted to announce that NMPi and our sister company, DQ&A, have agreed to acquire a fantastic international digital creative specialist, called Joystick.

Established in 2006, and now with a team of over 90 digital creative experts in New York, Los Angeles, London, Santo Domingo, and the Philippines, Joystick is a market leading creative specialist with extensive expertise in data-driven dynamic ad technologies, and is one of only two DoubleClick Certified Creative Partners in both the UK and the US.

Joystick works with some really incredible and exciting brands including, Disney, Nissan, HBO, and Kroger. In a recent project for Google, Joystick created a dynamic ad which had over 60,000 different creative variations and was localised for an impressive 22 markets and 7 languages.

We are looking forward to joining forces with a company who shares our belief that the perfect blend of technology, data and artistry makes every execution smarter, more dynamic and more effective.

NMPi CEO, Luke Judge, shared his thoughts on why this acquisition is so important: “As data gives us a better understanding of the consumer and their online journey, we are seeing a rapid shift in the digital ecosystem. It’s no longer about choosing channels to run your marketing activity; now the spotlight is on creating a flawless experience for the consumer. This is exactly why we are focused on reinventing what it means to be a digital marketing specialist, and joining forces with Joystick is a major step in that journey, allowing us to offer a more end-to-end service focused on brilliant customer experience.”

With this acquisition, NMPi is now able to directly offer our clients targeted campaign solutions including, Dynamic Ads, Programmatic Creative, and Rich Media Display Ads, as well as tailored digital experiences with Responsive Website Development, Experiential Apps and Campaign Landing Pages.

We sat down with Sara Francis, CEO of Joystick, to get her thoughts on the agreement: “This is an exciting time for our businesses to come together as one strong force. The alignment could not be more perfect with what we do and where we want to go. We look forward to leading the way in digital innovation and collectively creating a compelling offering for clients.”

With over 18 years experience in digital marketing, Sara is a seasoned executive with extensive knowledge in management, client strategy and business development. For the first part of her career, Sara focused primarily on the entertainment vertical working for such companies as Miramax, Deep Focus and Moxie Interactive. In 2010 Sara joined Joystick to lead the Los Angeles office and account management team company-wide before being elevated to CEO.

Our sister company, DQ&A, is Google DoubleClick’s largest EMEA partner in the technology and professional services field. When combined with Joystick’s DoubleClick Creative Partner status, the acquisition forms a strengthened DoubleClick relationship, further solidifying its strategic offering and authenticity within the digital industry.

CEO of DQ&A, Mike Ossendrijver, added: “We saw a significant gap in the market for a solution that will enable our clients to enhance all aspects of the customer’s online media journey, and we couldn’t be more excited to finally close the marketing loop by combining technology, data, media, and now industry-leading creative services. Digital innovation is at the heart of NMPi and DQ&A, and this acquisition will bring further opportunities for us to drive development with the use of Joystick’s Innovation lab and its deep creative industry knowledge and partnerships.”

This news follows our 2017 global expansion into 6 new markets, including 2 offices in the US, as well as our recent acquisition of U.S boutique Paid Social specialists, MediaPact. With DQ&A also launching in South-East Asia, Australia, Africa and Italy, this only serves to strengthen the marketing group’s international presence and localised expertise. As a group, we are now able to boast a global presence of 340 people across 16 offices. 

The acquisition is subject to standard completion procedures and is expected to complete within the month.

If you would like to receive any further information, do not hesitate to get in touch.

NMPi Predicts The World Cup Using Machine Learning: Man vs. Octopus vs. Machine

It was a trip to the grocery store one Sunday evening in May that I first saw it, The World Cup 2018 Panini Sticker Book. Unmatched in its dual role of footballing holy grail and financial black hole. With a quick glance over the shoulder to make sure no one was looking, I placed it delicately into my basket. After all, such a guilty pleasure required some degree of secrecy to ensure the maintenance of dignity.

Since then it’s all got a little out of hand really. My flatmates and I are fifty stickers away from completing the book – 650 in total. The team at the local Co-op know us by name – I’m now greeted with, ‘the usual, Alex?’, as I walk in.

To the utter bewilderment of those around me, the World Cup and its advertising machine has gone fishing and managed to catch a whale. I am that whale. But rather than let that get to me, I’ve decided to apply my enthusiasm in a slightly more useful way.

About a year ago we wrote a blog article predicting the results of the UK election, correctly arriving at the verdict of a hung parliament. So, we have decided to revive our predictive capabilities for the World Cup.

Fred Maude, the genius behind our previous efforts, has been busy hoarding reams of player data to apply to his new footballing-based algorithm.

We’ve incorporated machine learning into our business in a variety of different ways (award-winning in some cases), and Fred has been at the forefront of that movement. It works for our Google Shopping campaigns. It worked in 2017’s UK election. Will it work for Russia 2018? A few words from him later, along with his results.

But first, we thought we’d up the stakes a little. Alongside Fred’s machine, we’ve asked two very different figures to put their theories forward. After all, who wants machines to win every time? We all know how that ends…

Man – Max Flajsner, Head of Performance

Ignoring the fact Max is a Spurs fan, and so has little hope of being able to identify the characteristics of a successful team, we thought we’d let him have a go anyway. With a solid footballing background and a leading role in my sticker book efforts, he is perfectly placed to represent all of humanity.

In explaining his approach, Max revealed “my strategy mainly rested on Mousa Dembele. I just love him. So, to hear he won’t be starting had a huge impact on my decision-making. Belgium out in the quarters, Germany to ruthlessly defend their title.” Bless him.

Image Source: Sky Sports

2nd Round – Colombia v England, Uruguay v Portugal, France v Croatia, Brazil v Mexico, Belgium v Poland, Spain v Egypt, Argentina v Peru, Germany v Costa Rica

Q’ Finals – England v Germany, Portugal v France, Brazil v Belgium, Spain v Argentina

S’ Finals – Germany v Spain, Brazil v France

Final – Germany v Brazil

Winners – Germany

Octopus – Unnamed, Long Suffering Girlfriend

8 years ago, Paul the Octopus shot to fame by successfully predicting the results of the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, one thing I’ve learnt in this endeavour is that there are very few publicly accessible predictive octopi left.

So I turned to my cat (Pablo), perhaps the most single-minded creature I have ever come across, which I respect immensely. Whatever we tried, he did not want to participate in our ‘pick a flag with some tuna on it’ game. As he sat there staring at me, his eyes questioning how on earth it had come to this, I knew I had to find another way.

My final option was to go for a creature who matched Paul & Pablo in sporting awareness, though perhaps not in the number of legs. She has two legs, cares very little for football, is awesome, and just so happens to be my girlfriend. Upon being asked about her predictive strategy for this year’s tournament, she replied, “if I’m completely honest Alex, I just want this all to be over.” Perfect.

After some negotiations around where I would buy dinner, I managed to eek out an infographic. My goodness, I hope she’s right.

Image Source: Sky Sports

 2nd Round – Colombia v England, Uruguay v Portugal, France v Argentina, Brazil v South Korea, Belgium v Japan, Spain v Russia, Nigeria v Denmark, Germany v Costa Rica

Q’Finals – Germany v England, Portugal v Argentina, Brazil v Belgium, Spain v Nigeria

S’Finals – England v Spain, Portugal v Brazil

Final – Spain v Portugal

Winners – Spain

Machine – Fred Maude, Performance Manager

Finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Get your betting apps at the ready, because this one’s the winner. Here’s Fred…

‘The algorithm was designed to account for individual player performance over the last 12 months, along with national team form and results. This included a penalty bot should a knock-out game end in a draw.’

With Croatia and Morocco in the semi-final, and Argentina not making it out of their group, Fred’s machine has put its neck on the line. However, if he is right, we’re in for one hell of a tournament.

Image Source: Sky Sports

2nd Round – Senegal v England, Russia v Morocco, France v Nigeria, Brazil v Sweden, Belgium v Poland, Spain v Uruguay, Croatia v Australia, Germany v Costa Rica

Q’Finals – Germany v Senegal, Morocco v Nigeria, Brazil v Belgium, Spain v Croatia

S’Finals – Germany v Croatia, Brazil v Morocco

Final – Germany vs Brazil

Winner – Brazil

“I’m confident my predictions won’t be far off and my methodology is sound.’

“Initially, the aim was to develop a technique that was devoid of statistical and human bias. We could have gone away and taken stats upon stats to thread into our Machine Learning algorithm, however, we would essentially be feeding the machine with stats that hold no relevance for the game in hand. As everyone knows, it is not beyond Man City to be beaten by Stoke, although player statistics would not point you there. Thus, to remove any bias, and allow the machine itself to learn and make assumptions and stats for itself, we chose a different method.’

“This method involved taking the team line ups and results from over 5000 games in the last 12 months and then feeding this data into our classifier. My first experiments involved using the standard decision tree classifier, however, it was clear that the results were marred with inconsistencies. The decision to drop this and adopt the random forest technique was recently validated by an MIT Machine Learning algorithm aimed at the same outcome as ours.’

“To test the success rate, we looked at previous games with known results and supplied the algorithm with only the team’s line up data. Using this data, the machine then made a decision based on what it thought the result would be. We were then able to match these against the real results. My tests logged a success rate of 64%. Considering the volatility of football, as I am sure anyone who watches the game understands, we considered this as a sign of success.’

“Now that everything had been tested to our satisfaction we could finally predict the winners of The World Cup 2018. The only input data for prediction being the expected line ups of each World Cup team. Unfortunately for those die-hard England fans, a game against Senegal in the round of 16 may prove all too much.”

 

And there you have it. Tune in in 6 weeks’ time to see who triumphed in what Netflix is already touting as its next feature film – Man vs. Octopus vs. Machine.

How NMPi’s Tech Team are Tackling GDPR

With the GDPR now in full force, there is a sense of trepidation as every business tries to ensure that both they and their suppliers are doing as much as possible to protect the personal data of their consumers, employees and prospects. Whilst businesses across Europe were in a flurry from the beginning of the year in an attempt to be ready for the 25th of May, the GDPR is an ongoing process as we continue to store new personal data on a daily basis, from cookie data to new customer purchases, it all needs to be compliant.

There is still a lot the industry is uncertain about, especially concerning the bounds of legitimate interest, but one thing we do know for sure is digital advertising based on personal data should be consented to. Even, for example, targeting groups of people about a sale item that relates to a product they had previously purchased.

We sat down with Paul Rauff, our Head of Technology, to discuss how NMPi has been developing tools to help our clients remain GDPR complaint.

Q: What problem does our tech help solve?

Previously, in order to run these personalised campaigns, the consumer’s data was transferred to an agency to then be uploaded into Google, Facebook or similar advertising platform, but with the GDPR this becomes more complicated. Outside of acting as the vehicle for transferring this data to an advertising platform, an agency has no need to ever be in actual contact with that data.

Moreover, neither Google nor Facebook are interested in handling that data in a readable format. They specifically ask us to mask any personal user details through a process known as “hashing”. Hashing is a means for taking a readable piece of data, like an email address, and scrambling it in a way that cannot be unscrambled.

This scrambling process is always consistent. For example, the email address [email protected] will always produce the hash value of B3C2E90EB5B4F12FF5DDB4BB9DC38734A36D365543CC17D038ACA58A44BF0937, no matter when or where it is hashed.

This means that a platform like Google can match any uploaded hash values to those which have been generated by the emails it already stores.

So in our example, NMPi would then only upload B3C2E90EB5B4F12FF5DDB4BB9DC38734A36D365543CC17D038ACA58A44BF0937 to Google. If, and only if, Google finds a match to one of the emails already in its system it will then serve customised ads to that matching user. This system is also used by other providers, such as Facebook.

The problem that we as an advertising agency faced was: How do we hash and upload our clients’ data without actually handling that data?

Q: How does our technology help solve this problem?

Using our tool, our clients can upload a csv file of customer data into their browser. While still in the browser environment (and before any data leaves that browser), the tool hashes all private customer data in the csv. The tool then pushes that hashed data to either Facebook or Google, where the advertising platforms are then able to compare and process that hashed data.

Q: What are the benefits?

Using this tool means that sensitive, legally protected data no longer needs to leave our clients’ possession. Since our tool is browser-based, all actions happen on the client’s premises, so they no longer have to share this data with anyone outside of their business, and especially not over non-secure channels like email!

Furthermore, the tool has been built by NMPi’s tech team with a ground-up approach to security, using the latest front-end development frameworks. All data is transmitted over an encrypted HTTPS connection, and the tool itself has been OWASP checked for vulnerabilities. Our servers are all security checked, monitored, and maintained by a dedicated RackSpace support team.

Q: Why is this necessary?

In a post-GDPR world, this type of protection is critical. The penalties for mishandling personally identifiable information (PII) can be crippling to an organisation!

Ultimately, no agency or client should be sharing PII data unless absolutely necessary, and our tool goes a long way to lowering our client’s data-sharing exposure, and risks of data breaches.

 

If you want to learn more about what the post-GDPR world could look like, check out After GDPR: a blog we wrote 3 months ago with how we expected it to play out.

 

NMPi’s Guide to Angel

NMPi’s London home is in Angel, Islington. A beautiful and lively area of North London, there’s something for everyone: from lunchtime hotspots to post-work bars, theatres to shopping. Still being fairly new to the company and the surrounding area, I asked the company what their favourite spots in the area are. True to form, they did not disappoint.

Food

One thing that can be said about NMPi-ers is we know how to eat, so it is no surprise that I was inundated with restaurant suggestions.

If you’re a red-blooded carnivore, you can’t go wrong with Meat People: amazing atmosphere matched with incredible meat. We love their fantastic service, and you can even bring your own drinks on a Sunday! Don’t know what to order? The natural choice would be the steak, and their chocolate fondant is to die for!

If you’re not as big on meat, another eatery that came up frequently is Rosa’s Thai. There are quite a few of this chain around London, but we’re lucky enough to have one around the corner. You often see a couple of our team bringing Rosa’s Thai bags back to the office for lunch. Firm favourites are Som Tam – a papaya salad – and the butternut red curry. If you’d rather sit in, they do a great lunch menu that is great value for money and delicious!

For a great group meal that you can share, try Afghan Kitchen. A simple decor, and simple Afghan home cooking, makes this a great place for team meals. They focus on hearty stews with subtle spicing, matched with sides such as plain rice or bread.

 

Drinks

There are two drinking staples for NMPi. The first is the pub downstairs from the office: the Wenlock and Essex. Our home away from home, you can catch NMPi-ers in here nearly every night of the week – not just for Friday night drinks. It’s perfect for drinks, pizza, or even dancing when Satan’s Circus opens up later on in the night. It’s a fun place to unwind at the end of a busy week, and a staff discount doesn’t hurt.

Sometimes we need a change of scenery, and that’s when we’ll head out to Radicals. Full name Radicals & Victuallers, craft beer is its main game, but you can also rely on it for wine, cocktails and shakes. They have a DJ so it’s another great place for dancing, but it’s not so busy you can’t have a chat. It’s a great atmosphere and one that comes highly recommended.

Stuff to do

One of the biggest benefits of being in London, regardless of where you’re based or how old you are, is the sheer amount of stuff to do. Angel is no different. For those who like a touch of escapism like me, you have either the Almeida or The King’s Head theatres.

The King’s Head is a fringe theatre in the back of a pub, known for its spectacular LGBT seasons and a wide range of styles. From musicals to pub quizzes, plays to live music, it’s a safe haven you can escape to any night of the week. You can also check out the Almeida, known for some of its spectacular productions over the years including Hamlet starring Andrew Scott, the American Psycho musical featuring Matt Smith, and Against with Ben Whishaw. Plus, both of these venues are cheaper than the West End.

Not everyone wants to sit and watch a show for 2 hours, and that’s okay. Some people like to dance and sing karaoke. At Lucky Voice, that’s okay too. Again, there are a couple of these around the country, but we feel very lucky (see what I did there?) that there’s one right on our doorstep. Many a night has been spent belting out our favourite songs until the early hours and generally having a great time.

Being cooped up all day isn’t good for you, and sometimes you just want a nice walk. So much of London, especially the commercial areas, is built up which makes finding some time in nature is really difficult. Angel has a real benefit here: the canals. You can use the cycle paths on your daily commute, and also just for a break. Walking is great for a mental break, and where better to go for a walk than the canals. Just don’t fall in…

 

Now, these are just some of our top picks, but there’s still loads more I haven’t covered. Angel is one of the best places to explore: it’s bright and colourful, with lots of parks and greenery that you can hang out in and watch the world go by. Think this is an area you want to work in? We’re hiring now, so check out our Careers Page.