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 hence 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 optimisation 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 AU Crowned “Best Digital Agency” at NORA Awards

We are delighted to be able to say that NMPi AU took home the gold last night at the NORA 2018 Excellence Awards, winning “Best Digital Agency” in the evening’s proceedings.

These awards recognise the best of the best in Solution Providers for the retail industry of Australia. Most importantly, these awards are voted on by the retail industry itself. This win demonstrates our experience and expertise across retail, and that this has translated into real results for our clients.

A big thank you to all the retailers and clients who took the time to vote for us, and a huge congratulations to our amazing team. This award recognises the phenomenal work they’ve been doing to drive performance for our clients and partners.

Check out all of the winners from the evening at Noraawards.com.au.

NMPi and DQ&A Complete Acquisition of Creative Specialist, Joystick

Joystick officially joins the NMPi and DQ&A family today, as we sign the contracts and complete the acquisition. After announcing our agreement to acquire Joystick at Cannes a few weeks ago, we are very excited to begin working with them to reinvent what it means to be a customer-centric digital marketing specialist – whether that’s as a creative, media, or technology specialist.

Together, this means that we can provide a more complete digital marketing service focused on a brilliant customer experience. Not only can we offer digital media strategy and management across Paid Search, Display and Paid Social advertising, but we can also offer targeted and personalised creative solutions at scale, such as Dynamic Ads, Programmatic Creative, and Rich Media Display Ads, and even tailored digital experiences with Responsive Website Development, Experiential Apps and Campaign Landing Pages.

“It’s been months of hard work from many people on our teams, and we’re very excited to start building on this relationship and working closely with the Joystick team,” says NMPi CEO Luke Judge. “Together, we will be able to improve the way that people engage with advertising, and break down the silos that have found their way into the industry.”

Sara Francis, CEO of Joystick added, “It was incredibly important for us to find a partner who shares our ideals and our belief that the perfect blend of technology, data and artistry makes every execution smarter, more dynamic and more effective. NMPi and DQ&A are a perfect fit, and we are looking forward to the future.”

Joystick bring over 90 digital creative experts across 5 international offices to the group, increasing our global presence to over 340 employees across 16 offices from Los Angeles to Malaysia. They bring with them an extensive clientele that includes Google, HBO, Disney and Kroger, adding to NMPi and DQ&A’s clients such as, L’Oréal, Papa John’s,  Hanes, Freeview, Melia Hotels, and Samsung.

Joystick will be making their first official outing as part of the family at our July seminar, “Great Experience: Where Art and Science Meet.”

We’ll be bringing together speakers from NMPi, DQ&A and Joystick as well as Harvey Nichols and Charlotte Tilbury to show how you can break down the silos between media, creative and technology to drive flawless customer experience. It’ll be one you won’t want to miss, so make sure you register to join us in London, or on our live stream: Register Now

This acquisition was completed by NMPi and DQ&A UK’s parent company, Net Media Planet Ltd.

Introducing: Sara Francis, CEO of Joystick

A few weeks ago NMPi announced that we would be acquiring US creative specialists, Joystick. We are very excited to have Joystick’s entire leadership team, including Sara Francis, remain on post-acquisition.

Sara has over 18 years experience in digital marketing, having begun her career primarily focused on entertainment working for such companies as Miramax, Deep Focus, and Moxie Interactive. In 2010 she began her career at Joystick, leading the Los Angeles office and account management team company-wide before being elevated to CEO. 

We sat down with Sara to find out more about her, the agency, and what she’s looking forward to about this acquisition.

How do you think the industry will benefit from a joint media and creative agency?

Every digital touchpoint is an opportunity to create a connection and a conversation with the audience. At Joystick, our quality creative plays an integral part in campaign performance and ROI, something that is lacking in many campaigns. But oftentimes creative work is created without a complete picture of the consumer journey, making it hard to truly have an impact.

By joining forces with NMPi, we are able to close the gap between creative, media and technology. Media and creative have been extremely fragmented, now that we’re together, we can break down the barriers that exist. We’ll have more control over the customer touch points and the consumer’s experience throughout the brand journey.  

This may sound lofty, but we want to build a web where people love ads. Love them because they’re a great experience and are useful. This is what inspires us every day and we believe we’re working with the right partners and clients to make this happen.

What innovative technologies and strategies do you think NMPi will gain from adding a creative perspective to their digital offering? Conversely, what insight will Joystick gain from partnering with a global digital agency such as NMPi?

Joystick is one of the first creatively-led agencies with deep expertise in ad technology. This will add a number of complimentary service offerings to NMPi. Our work in innovative technologies will add a robust offering to brands who are looking to add immersive experiences to their mix or augment their voice and visual search strategies.

Conversely, we look forward to combining our dynamic creative expertise with NMPi’s skilled programmatic strategists to offer a full-service solution unmatched by others. We’ll have audience and creative alignment that will enable us to create truly personalized creative and ad relevancy that delivers results.

What plans for growth do you have in the upcoming year?

Well for starters, we’ll need to service a global client base and expand existing services into new markets. We also see immediate opportunity to expand how we’re working with our current technology vendors.

So all of this will mean that we’ll need to grow our team and invest in our talent to learn about how to bring our collective services together. We see our new global footprint and expanded capabilities as a huge opportunity for growth.

What are the challenges facing digital marketers in the coming twelve months?

We’ve been having meaningful discussions with brands around how they think about activating brand and business growth. We all desire to create meaningful brands fueled by consumer-first thinking and data. Many want to know how to action their data and sequence ads and content to work together to keep things fresh and relevant to consumers at any moment.

We’ve also heard a lot about the challenge of maintaining creative quality with programmatic buying. That’s a challenge we’re going to take head-on. We’re bringing high touch creative to programmatic. We plan to roll out a suite of high impact creative formats for programmatic delivery which is something the industry desperately needs.

What do you look forward to most with this partnership?

We look forward to re-imagining what it means to be digital marketing specialists. We are in essence bringing art and science together. Data-driven creative is our art. And with our creative chops combined with the expert minds of NMPi’s analysts, we can push that even further.

We are also looking forward to expanding our global footprint to have service areas in 16 countries and a team of over 340 of the most highly trained experts across search, display, video, social, data and analytics.

Personally, I’m excited about the opportunity to collaborate with our collective of agencies. We’re all specialists in our respective disciplines and we now can work closely and non-competitively on what the future agency model looks like.

What is the most exciting recent development in digital marketing?

Well, to be honest, there are always exciting new developments in digital marketing. We’re always developing emerging formats using new advancements in technology and putting them to work in new ways.

We’re also happy to see that platforms are doing more to create a space to give a creative a voice. Great creative is finally getting a spotlight again which is a huge priority for us.

And lastly, what is your favourite project that you have worked on?

There are so many I consider my favorite, it’s hard to pick just one. A recent favorite would have to be the voice-enabled unit that we worked on with our client and partner True[X] for Amazon Echo. Our team had seen how more and more people were using voice search and we wanted to see if we could put this to work in an ad by using speech to text conversion technology. When True[X] came to us with a voice-activated experience they were working on with Amazon Echo, we had a couple of approaches to recommend. The result was a highly engaging and entertaining voice-enabled ad unit that featured the Echo’s capabilities in a compelling way. This is a great example of the true collaboration we love having with all our partnerships.

 

NMPi to Acquire Creative Specialist, Joystick

Today, we are so 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 four 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 localized 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 of UK & US, 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 localized 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.

LIVE NEWS: DoubleClick Tracking Failure

DoubleClick is currently experiencing a technical failure, which DoubleClick engineers are in the process of repairing.

From what we have seen the issue appears to be with DoubleClick’s ability to redirect ads, meaning some users are not able to get through to a landing page.  At the moment it is believed that it is a widespread issue, and likely Global.

What to Do

No timeline has been given for a resolution, and as a result we advise all advertisers using DoubleClick Search to take the following measures in the interim period.

  1. Change automatic sync to manual.
  2. Within AdWords, remove the account tracking template.

For those running display activity via DBM consider pausing your activity, as targeting is based on audiences as oppose to search, where you may not get an opportunity to reach that user again.

However, the exception would be if you are running a promotion, in which case we would recommend keeping it active for retargeting activity.

Removing the tracking template will mean that we are not tracking conversions through DoubleClick but will mean that users are getting to your site without problems.

We have taken these actions with our own clients to protect their paid search campaigns, and have paused paid media activity through Google Shopping, Display run via DBM, and Facebook activity which is tracked via DoubleClick.

Note: If you are using an external tracking solution such as, Marin and Kenshoo, this problem should not be affecting your campaigns.

The problem seems to come in and out, so we recommend keeping a close eye on all of your campaigns.

We are in close contact with multiple teams at DoubleClick as they seek a swift resolution to these difficulties, and we will update this post as soon as we have more information.

NMPi Wins Gold and Silver at 2018 Bookmark Awards!

Last night marked the 10th annual Bookmark Awards, an IAB SA initiative, which rewards excellence in digital marketing. After such an amazing night we couldn’t be more excited to announce that NMPi has taken home two awards!

It is an honor to be recognised for our leading-edge innovation in Organic Search Marketing.

Our work with Clicks and Gumtree took home Gold and Silver, respectively, within the Organic Search Marketing category. We are proud of our team and the results they have achieved for our clients.

Congrats to all the winners from last night. Check out the full results: Bookmark Awards 2018 Winners

NMPi appoints a new operations director

Full-service digital marketing agency, NMPi, has appointed Michelle Clarke as its operations director. The announcement is part of the group’s aim to deliver country-specific support from an integrated, global operations team based at its Cape Town office.

NMPi has offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States. Its parent company, IncuBeta, has offices in 13 countries, employing more than 400 full-time staff.

“Michelle’s focus is to ensure that the operational process delivers on our ability to have a client and country-specific proposition, which is serviced by a Cape Town-based ops team. We have built a team that has the knowledge base, the consulting capabilities, and the training capacity to deliver excellent service to our growing global client base. With more than 13 years’ experience, Michelle is ideally positioned to head up operations and to further curate and nurture the intellectual capital within our operational hub,” says Alan Lipshitz, CEO of IncuBeta Holdings.

Clarke joined the Incubeta Group in 2004 as a junior trader and has held several positions, including senior trader, head of account strategy, head of search, and head of Asia Pacific operations, before taking on the role of operations director in January. The key areas of focus of her new role will be strategic management, resource management, and operational management.

“What excites me most is that we have such a talented team of individuals who have experience working across all the markets we operate in. Drawing on this team of experts, with global knowledge, allows us to tailor our objectives and strategies towards individual clients and markets. We are all about making data-driven decisions while keeping innovation and client satisfaction at the core of our delivery. We try to position ourselves as an extension of our client’s teams, working closely together to execute objectives and goals,” adds Clarke.

NMPi aims to focus its delivery on using the best technology available with the experienced insight of trained professionals across a broad range of platforms.

“We are able to go deeper than simply setting up and running campaigns. DoubleClick and analytics will be a cornerstone to clients looking to reap the full rewards of our work with them. Dealing with attribution in a more sophisticated way allows us to look at the data, analyse a client’s history, and then craft relevant campaign strategies, which actually fit into their overall marketing strategy,” says Lipshitz.

Over the years, NMPi has developed areas of dominance. The Australian division is the largest independent digital agency in the retail space of that region. It dominates the financial services sector in South Africa and has shown significant growth in the training space in other regions. Lipshitz says the company will be harnessing this regional expertise to expand its offering across all the global operations.

Lipshitz concludes, “Our organisational focus makes Michelle perfect for the job. She is comfortable with managing divergent views, but can still steer the process to achieve the objective, which is most relevant for that particular global market. This will set us apart from any other regional agency.”

For more information, visit www.nmpilabs.com.

AR helps retailers re-imagine the entire shopping journey

AR helps retailers re-imagine the entire shopping journey Johan Walters, head of NMPi Labs.

Despite the speculation about the rise of the machine and the threat to jobs at best, and to humankind at worst, technology will not spell the end for bricks and mortar retail stores any time soon. However, the way customers are experiencing and engaging with the world is shifting and this is one place technology can actually help retailers.

We can all agree that technology has forever shifted how consumers engage with their world. A growing number of games and other marketing campaigns have exposed many of us to Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realities. AR in particular, with its low cost and high penetration is one technology that retailers can immediately use to improve their customer engagement.

Unlike VR which still requires expensive headsets, AR gives us a new, richer version of the real world. Digital data overlays are delivered to the user through mobile devices found in the hands or pockets of the majority of consumers.

Augmented Reality users are growing rapidly, and the global market is predicted to reach about 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Moreover, AR software revenue is expected to be three times higher than that of VR by the same year.

It’s all about the shopper experience
Online stores have a tech head start on their physical counterparts. For them, it’s much easier to add technology to deepen the shopper experience. However, physical stores are not excluded from imagining and designing shopping experiences.

The smart digital professional will design an AR campaign which drives footfall and increases sales – this is what retail is all about after all. However, this shopper journey needs to start long before we reach the doors of the store.

The trick with this is to isolate the various touch points in the shopper journey and to create an immersive experience that answers the needs and desires of the customer – it’s about creating things to do, over and above the purchase.

The experience needs to begin in the customer’s home. Here your interaction needs to create awareness of the offerings and instill a desire to motivate your customer to enter your store.

Once inside, keep your customer engaged, not with single items, but multiple possibilities which they otherwise may not have considered. Optimising consideration at the shelf boosts cross-selling of products and finally, encouraging customers to engage with an expert – either virtual or real – will maximize sales across the brand.

International campaigns showcase the opportunity
Using Blippar,Max Factor produced an excellent campaign, showcasing how AR can be effectively used. The objectives were to empower shoppers at key moments with knowledge and inspiration, drive purchase and repurchase of Max Factor products and increase basket spend through cross sell recommendations.

All of Max Factor’s products – nearly 500 individual items – were made fully interactive with curated digital content. By blipping the items shoppers could reveal high-quality information and interactivity tailored specifically to each product. Before and after photos for a particular makeup product, customer reviews, professional makeup tips, and matching your skin tone to different colour palettes helped shoppers get the most out of the decision making process.

Users engaged with the experience 3.5 times on average and 82% of users clicked through to purchase a product. Of the women surveyed after the campaign 70% said they trusted the app’s product recommendations

For local food retailers – especially those concerned with their environmental footprint – an Asian Blippar campaign shows how AR can bring the shopper closer to the brands, through an immersive experience.

Blippar worked with the Visual Trust Initiative to create an end-to-end solution that allows Chinese shoppers to check the quality and origins of their food simply by scanning an item with the Blippar app. The initiative is powered by Blippar, Transparency-One and SGS, and Carrefour is the first international retailer to take advantage of the technology.

When shoppers scan products they can access quality certificates, test results, location details and images of the relevant farm, as well as nutritional information. This provides full supply-chain transparency from farm to plate.

On the local front, NMPi Labs is seeing a marked uptick in interest from retailers. As AR becomes more pervasive on smartphones and gathers increasing business focus from phone manufactures, we are seeing retailers excited about including AR into their digital strategy. In fact, the more forward thinking executives see AR as a key focus for 2018.

NMPi Completes International Expansion with New York & Los Angeles Offices

Today, we are really excited to announce the addition of two new offices to NMPi. Over the past year, we have launched our brand in 8 new markets, including, Australia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, and now New York and Los Angeles in the US!

We currently work with 27 brands in the US including, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Autodesk. “The US has always been an exciting region for us,” explains Alex Moody, Partnerships Director, North America. “The NMPi team and I are looking forward to catching up with all our US clients and partners over the coming months and exploring the opportunities that a permanent base provides including, broadening our strong relationship with Google which has been a major factor in our global success.”

The launch of our US offices follows a significant client win. In September this year, we began delivering Paid Search, Display, Paid Social and Analytics services for US retail group, Fullbeauty Brands, and seven of their subsidiary companies. Fullbeauty Brands has specialized in plus-size clothing for women and men in the US for over 100 years and includes the popular brands Jessica London, ellos, Woman Within, and King Size Direct.

“The transition of our paid media channels for 7 brands has been flawless. They truly feel like an extension of the team rather than an agency,” commented Vice President of Digital Marketing at Fullbeauty Brands, Bobby Missry.

In July this year, we announced a strategic partnership with global technology company, Pitney Bowes. We are helping them strengthen their industry-leading global e-commerce offering with enhanced consumer marketing solutions, including international paid-search campaigns, display advertising, social media advertising and fully optimized Google shopping experiences.

“As a key market for NMPi, the US was the natural next step to continue our international expansion,” states Luke Judge, CEO (Europe & US).”Relationships like Fullbeauty Brands, Pitney Bowes, and Google are just the beginning, and we are excited to move forward in 2018.”