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.

Local AR specialist expanding offering to include custom AI solutions

On the back of a sharp increase in interest in AR from local brands, NMPi Labs has renewed its strategic partnership with industry leading AR Platform Blippar and launched new customisable offerings – all firsts for the South African market.

“We have seen a sizeable jump in interest and uptake in our AR offering over the past 10 months. This has been driven in part by technologies becoming more mainstream, but also by massive investment from the phone manufacturers which see AR in particular as a strategic growth area,” explains NMPi Labs Head of Brand Partnerships, Johan Walters.

What’s more, AR and VR are key technologies in what Gartner describes as ‘transparently immersive technologies’ and is pegged as one of three megatrends which will drive digital businesses over the next 10 years. The company further predicts that by 2019, AR, VR and mixed reality (MR) solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20% of large-enterprise businesses.

NMPi Labs has been working with agencies, post-production houses and directly with brands to design and deliver AR campaigns. Particular interest has come from printing and packaging companies as well as the retail and financial services sector.

“Brands are intrigued by the technology, especially the events companies who are often looking for the next big thing to captivate clients and prove their own innovation. Financial services are also showing a keen interest. AR works particularly well for financial services which often struggle to sell and advertise non-tangible products. By tapping into your customers’ feelings and emotions you allow them to connect with your brand, making experiential marketing perfect for financial services,” says Walters.

Looking ahead, NMPi Labs will be working closely with Blippar to deliver some significant new product enhancements and new offerings.

Halos, Blippar’s new AR face profiling in-app feature builds on existing facial recognition technology and allows users to create and customise their own AR Face Profile, or ‘Halo’. This latest launch makes facial recognition technology directly accessible for all smartphone users for the first time.

The facial recognition technology will soon be available as an API for businesses looking to license and integrate it into their own applications or products. The possible uses of this technology range from mobile banking to smart networking and building access control.

SeeFood!, meanwhile, uses Blippar’s Computer Vision API and AR software development kit (SDK) allowing users to identify food, and serving up its nutritional information. A particular use case which can now be customised for local brands – which Walters says should have the retail sector very excited indeed.

As a Blippar Partner, NMPi Labs can now also offer the world’s first AI/AR technology for the automotive industry. Users can blipp any car (built after the year 2000) whether in a magazine, on the streets or even in a video. The app will recognise the make, model and year and then unlock an AR experience. It shows average customer rating, price, a 360-degree view of the car’s interior and more – transforming the physical world into a virtual showroom.

Currently only available in the US via the Blippar App, the new Automotive API will soon be available for the South African market as well.

Finally, NMPi Labs can offer the first-ever augmented reality digital ad unit.
Blippar has developed technology that allows rich media units to leverage a user’s camera without the need for a separate app to be installed on the device.

A perfect fit for digital marketing strategies, it can be launched from any rich media inventory on camera-equipped mobile or desktop devices. The unit uses a live camera feed to merge the physical and digital worlds and is designed to drive active engagement and interest in a brand’s product.

“The SDK and API integrations mean we are able to develop more customisable solutions in niche markets. We can now work with brands that already have an existing app to leverage their active audience. The SDK will allow brands to bring an entirely new way for their followers to engage with them and their products. These new enhancements and products take AR into every vertical market, giving credence to the analysts’ predictions that AR has the ability to help create a truly digital business.”

NMPi Labs will be rolling out the new offerings to local markets in the coming weeks.