Meet BERT – Google’s Latest Update

Google’s algorithm updates have always had a significant impact on how marketers handle their SEO efforts, but their latest update – BERT – has been heralded as the most important update in five years, and is set to impact 10% of search queries. But what exactly is BERT, and what impact will it have on organic search as we know it?

The Future of Search is Conversational

In recent years, we’ve all heard that marketing is conversational, but BERT shows that Google has firmly subscribed to this. With voice search becoming increasingly popular thanks to the rise of smart speakers, Google’s latest update is designed to help Search better understand natural language and more conversational queries. 

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and is a “deep learning algorithm”. The algorithm seeks to give context to Google Search queries so that Google can understand a user’s more natural searches. Sometimes, the context of a search is crucial to getting the right results – for example, there are many different uses of the word “type”. When considered on their own, you might receive results that are entirely irrelevant to these kinds of words. It’s the context around the rest of the query that demonstrates specifically what a user wants. 

Given that there has been a trend towards longtail search terms, particularly as people talk rather than type their queries, this update provides the opportunity for content creators to go back and retest content that might not have been as successful previously. As Google begins to understand search terms with the context of their intent, you may find engagement rising where previously it had remained low. 

Success after BERT

To ensure your organic search success after the rollout of BERT, you’ll want to ensure that your content is well written and uses words precisely. If your content or pages are unclear, it makes it more difficult for Google to understand the overall context. When developing content, be sure to keep the user front of mind; having a clear focus on the point your page is trying to make. By writing for users, Google is better able to understand the context and relationship between words and therefore make sure you’re appearing for the most relevant searches.

The full impact of BERT is still unclear, but what we can already see is the continuing optimization towards conversational voice searches. Context will be incredibly important, ensuring that you continue to appear on the most relevant searches. Focus on precision, and you’ll likely see the benefit for your organic search.

NMPi Shortlisted at this Year’s SBC Awards

It’s with great pride and pleasure that we are announcing our most recent shortlist at this year’s SBC Awards for Marketing & Service Provider of the Year (Sports & Casino).

The awards are known for “recognizing expertise and innovation in the betting and gaming industries,” and it is truly an honor to be shortlisted for this award after having launched our iGaming services just over 2 years ago.

Our digital strategies bring a fresh and innovative approach to the iGaming industry, which can be seen through our work with our clients such as Hero Gaming.

If you’re interested in learning more about our strategy, check out our latest Whitepaper on the iGaming industry, which provides specialist insight on the US Sports Betting market. 

Place your bets on NMPi, Winner to be announced 3 December 2019.

Incubeta Ignite: The Next Billion Users

Read Time: 2 mins

Since 2005, a lot has changed in the world, but there is one key stat that Google’s Ian Turner wants us to focus on: the 2% of Africa’s nearly 1 billion population who had access to the internet in 2005, compared to the 46% of Europe. Flashing forward to 2019, 82% of all developed economies are online, compared to 40% of those still developing. Africa has seen an upswing in adoption, but still only has 25% of the population online. 

Google recognizes that the next billion users will come from across Asia, South America and Africa, and in most cases, the potential for growth is more than half the populations. This being said, their internet use is markedly different compared to that of the current user base, as well as their habits and interactions with different devices. 

The biggest trend is that these populations are largely mobile-first, because they are only on mobile devices. Statistics suggest that around 50% of all smartphone users are in Asia, but general usages is high across India, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. 

With the high permeation of smartphones in these places, voice usage is also very high; for example, 30% of search queries in India use voice. On top of this, the use of language is often very fluid across these regions. For those who only speak Hindi, they’ll use an all-Hindi keyboard. Those who also speak English might speak Hindi or “hinglish” with the English alphabet with friends, and Hindi with the English alphabet to their grandparents. Then there’s also the shifts and blends with Punjabi or Urdu to contend with.

Video content is particularly popular, especially YouTube, and localized content including localized languages is also incredibly important. However, this highlights some of the biggest challenges that we face bringing these populations online. Localized content is hard to maintain, while the phones being used are often low spec. Getting, and staying, online is often difficult thanks to poor and costly connectivity.

Google are making strides to develop their products to ensure that they are accessible to the users that are coming online. Technology can and does make a huge difference to lives across the world, and it’s exciting to see how the next billion users will find the online world.

You can download Ian’s slides here. 

Incubeta Ignite: Am I A Bad Person?

Read Time: 2 minutes

Outside of the world of advertising, data has fueled huge leaps forward in education, science and healthcare. Closer to home, we know how crucial data is for driving effective advertising campaigns. But recent news developments have made me think: am I a bad person?

Surveillance is one of the biggest concerns. That some of the work we do as advertisers might be intruding on a consumer’s privacy will go against many of our moral codes. This being said, the purpose of big data is not surveillance. The definition of surveillance is “the careful watching of a person or place”, which certainly doesn’t tally with what we do. 

As advertisers, we aggregate information to find common themes, meaning the vast majority of our data actions should be anonymous. So while surveillance might be the word of the day, that doesn’t reflect how we work with big data.

We cannot deny that data has been used to exploit – but every commodity can be used to exploit if it falls into the wrong hands. To date, it certainly fallen into the wrong hands – think Cambridge Analytica, the EU referendum, and presidential elections – but this is nothing new. Newspaper, radio, TV; all have been used throughout history for political gain. So how can we rebuild the public’s opinion and confidence, and use it for a force of good?


  • Be Clear: Make sure your audience knows what you’re collecting and how it will be used. This means no legal jargon, just plain English explaining the data collection.
  • Be Secure: Ensure that data security runs through your organization. Data breaches typically occur because someone in the organization didn’t follow a process intended to protect consumer data. To cut the risk of this, make sure that from day one, all of your employees understand the importance of data security.
  • Be Helpful: Use data to aid, not obstruct. We should be using data to serve ads that are relevant and beneficial to the consumer, not ones that annoy them. Helpful ads are successful ads, and data allows us to improve our relevancy.
  • Be Honest: Use messaging that resonates but doesn’t mislead. While we know it allows us to be relevant, we also know it can be used to prey on people’s fears and mislead them. 

The key here is that we all must make a concerted effort to change. Moving towards more transparent data practices must be done in union. If we work together, we can reinvent what data means to the public, rather than allowing those with more nefarious motives to dictate public opinion. 

It is Damien’s hope that in ten years time, as we look back on the decade, we can see how data has allowed people to live longer, how education levels across the world are higher, and how data has helped us to face and solve the climate crisis.

You can download Damien’s slides here.

Incubeta Ignite: The Future of Advertising

Read Time: 3 mins

We live in a world where we want to make our lives easier, where we’ve developed technology to make our lives more efficient and simpler. We’ve become more accustomed to an AI world – think Alexa, Siri, Tesla’s self-driving cars, Nest – and as we look to the decade ahead we’ll expect all aspects of our lives to operate much more efficiently and easily. 

Applying this to the field of marketing, we know that we must find the balance between being engaging, but not intrusive; more personalized, but not creepy; more conversational. The best way to be helpful, engaging and personal, with our current capabilities, is human interaction. Consider a personal shopper, or advice for a consumer in a technology store. Unfortunately, this doesn’t scale, especially not online, so how can we make these kinds of personalized experiences work on a mass scale?

Conversational AI

Conversational AI uses messaging apps, voice-activated assistants and chatbots to automate communication and make these experiences personalized on a much greater scale. Google have been tapping into this kind of technology to develop a new innovative ad format called AdLingo – a chatbot housed inside a banner ad, powered by conversational AI technology.


When the user clicks on the ad, the ad then starts a conversation thread with the user without having to move to a website. Since this format is powered by Google, you can tap into the GDN to scale up your activity, and use their vast audience targeting tools for your personalization. But one of the biggest benefits here is the ability to easily talk to new users, who haven’t intentionally gone to your website. This gives you incredibly valuable insight into customer pain points, their preferences, their complaints. From a marketing perspective, this gives you some excellent intel which can fuel your future campaigns. 

From a user perspective, they are able to ask questions and find out information right then and there, without having to search through your website. By removing some of these barriers, this could help you to close the funnel faster, and secure more conversions.  

AdLingo also offers use cases that appeal to different types of consumers across the entire buying cycle:

  • You can build your brand image, creating a deep brand connection that drives awareness and favorability. 
  • You can offer a guided shopping experience the provides personalized product recommendations based on the user data you have at your disposal.
  • For more technical products or new launches, you can develop FAQ-style conversations that help to educate consumers.
  • Using questions, you can generate high-quality leads that have already been qualified.

Preparing Yourself

Fundamentally, conversational AI requires a different approach to engagement. It requires a full understanding of your consumer; what are their needs, how do they want to interact with you? Once this has been determined, you can begin to plan out the specifics of your project. Define the purpose of the project and how you want it to help customers on their journey. Knowing what you want to achieve will make it easier for you to deliver. Anticipate what your users will say or what they need out of a conversational interaction in order to make them more useful and engaging. Crucially, design for conversation: be sure to invest in conversation and dialogue flow and how to visually present information. Essentially you are giving a voice to your brand and personifying it, so being fully prepared is essential to ensuring a great execution.

Conversational ads are set to play a big part of Display advertising in the months to come, so get ahead of the curve with Farrah’s guidance to find your strategy.

You can download Farrah’s slides here.

Incubeta Ignite: Changing Your Mindset

Read Time: 2 mins

While many of our presentations have focused on the technical opportunities and challenges of the upcoming decade, Pauliina Jamsa of Siemens highlights a very different opportunity available to us: that of emotional intelligence. It’s not necessarily always about the coolest technology, but how you make people feel – and how you help them to share those feelings with the world. 

It was once the old adage that if I didn’t film or photograph it and put it on social, it never happened. Now, you must also appear in it for it to have happened. Users are now craving something real from the advertising and technology they’re exposed to.

Keeping this in mind, there are a few things that Pauliina believes we should focus on. 

  • Companies need their top talent more than the top talent needs them. Employees tend to value more flexibility, freedom and culture than money or status. Building a working environment that uses technology to grant more freedom will allow your employees to succeed.
  • Don’t forget the digital experiences of the older generations. While so much attention is being paid to Millenials and Gen Z (with good reason), this doesn’t give us license to forget the silver foxes. They can often help to bridge the generation gap.
  • You’re competing against the last best experience that a consumer had, so focus on UX after purchase. Many of us will focus on getting the user to convert, then letting the experience drop off afterwards. By turning our attention to the post-purchase interaction, we can stick in the user’s mind for longer.

Perhaps most importantly, Pauliina reminds us to show that we care. It’s a simple gesture, but it is incredibly clear when we don’t.

You can download Pauliina’s slides here.

Incubeta Ignite: The Bremont Watch Company

Read Time: 2 mins

Nick English is the co-founder of the Bremont Watch Company, a company who brought watchmaking back to British shores to develop one of the most sought after brands in the industry. In his passionate presentation, Nick discusses how he and his brother grew the brand into the powerhouse it is today. 

Build Your Own History

For Nick and Bremont, it is not about emulating others. Despite the fact that the Swiss have become the most well-known suppliers of watches in recent years, Bremont has always been driven by authenticity. When starting from scratch, Nick advises that you should try to build your own history, rather than co-opt someone else’s.

Dare To Be Different

When coming into a well-established market, dare to be different. Watch manufacturers have a showcase in Basel every year where brands can go and show off their wares. Nick and his brother decided to take Bremont down a different and unique route: renting a townhouse in the UK and flying out all of those people they wanted to get in front of. Now, rather than competing against all the other brands at the show for 20 minutes with a journalist, they have a day or two to spend with all of the people they want to speak to, with the ability to introduce them to their team and factory. Another example is how they approach their brick and mortars, rather than recreating the watch shops they saw on the high street, they made stores that reflected their desired audience: adding a bar, making it feel more like a clubhouse. 

The Power of Social

Bremont has never underestimated the power of social media, getting online when all the other brands considered it a vulgar practice. This allowed them to grow the brand much further afield in America and Asia for example.

Customer Satisfaction

Perhaps the most important thing for Bremont is customer satisfaction. It’s not just about “converting a customer”, but how you care for them afterwards. Make your customer feel immensely special, and especially in luxury retail, you have to make them feel like rockstars. Fundamentally, people connect with people, and tools like a CRM can help foster the relationship. 

When it comes to setting up your own business though, Nick has 5 pieces of advice for you to bear in mind. Be Passionate. Be Authentic. Be Smart. Innovate. Tell your story.

You can download Nick’s slides here

Incubeta Ignite: Your Q4 Strategies

Read Time: 3 mins

Q4 is perhaps the most important period for retailers, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas sales taking up the tail end of the quarter, and we know getting your strategies right is crucial to setting you up for success. We heard from Alice Malthouse, NMPi; David Maddison, HSBC; Derek Freer, Webgains; and Simon Boice, Lovehoney as they discussed how to make the most out of the season.

What are the big consumer trends affecting marketing both now and into the future?

Alice highlights that the way users are consuming media has changed over the last few years, and video is now playing a very central role; with users even going to YouTube to check out reviews. Google has released new formats to help advertisers and brands take advantage of this growing trend.

Other trends our panelists called out were Insta-Checkout from Instagram, consumers going back to basics, and a fundamental shift in customer loyalty.

What tactics can be used to promote retention?

Retention of customers is always important, but during the holiday period, you’re likely to come across customers who only visit once a year – to buy for a loved one. First-party data will play a central role here, especially when it comes to building awareness ahead of the buying season, which then allows you to create audiences that you can serve offers to later on. 

What can advertisers do to mitigate the problems of Brexit?

With uncertainty at the core of Brexit negotiations, transparent communication with your customers will help to maintain trust. Simon highlights that this is part of Lovehoney’s strategy: if deliveries are running a few days late, then the team make sure it’s on the homepage to manage expectations. 

Should brands be engaging in Black Friday this year?

The question here should really be “can brands afford not to?”. Put simply, even if you yourself don’t want to engage, retail as a whole will be. Your competitors will almost certainly be planning on ramping up their activity – and you’ll have to respond. Nevertheless, remember that you have January and February still to come, so don’t worry about putting all of your eggs in one basket. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to devise a new offer for Black Friday, though. We see many brands repackage their existing offers as Black Friday deals. Consumers are still in a mindset of conversion during this period, so regardless of whether it’s a brand new deal or you’re just repackaging your existing offers, you have to be there for your consumers. 

Finally, consider preparing your strategy for Black Friday immediately after the previous one. Knee-jerk reactions kill your margin, whereas using your insights while they’re still fresh will help you to go further.

How do you see the drive for more sustainable ecologically friendly products and business practices playing out?

Environmentalism is a growing consumer demand, and it is inexcusable not to be working towards plastic-free packaging now. On top of this, being at the forefront of lobbying efforts is also in businesses’ best interest. If you have to react to legislation, the PR fallout of not reacting quick enough can be deadly.

But, if you’re on the right side of environmentalism, it is a handy tool that can be a part of your marketing strategy, especially to those generations where it is a big factor of their lives. Being proud of your efforts, having an environmental policy that you can use, or a badge that can go onsite are all handy marketing tools as they reflect a shared concern and interest with your consumer.