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mporium targeting the "second screen" generation

As smartphones are portable and always connected, consumers are able to respond to stimuli from their environment in real-time
Tablet computers
Micro-moments

It is around 18 months since the management makeover and a clearer picture is beginning to emerge of the mporium Group (LON:MPM).

Barry Moat, founder of UK shop-at-work retailer Premier Direct, took over the running in May 2015, after the previous management paid the price for a slower adoption of the company's mobile commerce system than had been anticipated.

The new strategy, led by Moat, is to focus on engineering a new software as a service (SaaS) offering that it believes will ensure substantially faster ‘customer on-boarding’ and improved product features.

As part of the ‘mporium’ re-launch the company bought Fast Web Media Ltd, which comprises a web-search and marketing consultancy and a 50.001% stake in a business called InTELEgentsia.

InTELEgentsia is a ‘digital innovator’ that, among other things, has developed an eponymous ‘second screen’ mobile marketing platform, which is tied to TV programming, as well as a pay-per-click system that incorporates inputs from weather forecasts into ad targeting.

A deal was also agreed for a strategic partnership with Oslo-quoted advertising data analytics group Cxense, which will license a set of software as a service (SaaS) to the company.

In the context of the transformation that has been going on largely behind the scenes, the numbers in the company's results for 2015 were largely irrelevant; what was interesting was a glimpse of the company's plans for 2016.

The company has been in the process of developing two new products, “impact” and “insights”, to capitalise on changes in consumer behaviour online that have developed since the smartphone became ubiquitous.

The “impact” product is specifically targeted at making money from events that advertising behemoth Google calls “micro-moments” - little incidents, nuggets of information or content that pique a consumer's interest.

In particular, the product is aimed at those consumers that have a mobile device, such as a tablet computer or smartphone, up and running while they watch television – a practice called “second screening”.

The company says the unique selling point of the “impact” platform will be its focus on TV content – the documentaries, news, sporting events, soap operas, reality shows or whatever – rather than the TV advertising that, increasingly, is being dodged by tech savvy viewers, who record programmes and fast-forward through the ads or who simply turn their focus to their smartphone while the TV commercials are playing.

The target customers for the “impact” platform are tier-one brands, retailers and agencies, mporium said.

The “insights” platform is also built for the smartphone era but is focused on the small and medium enterprises (SME) market.

It combines high end analytics with the ability to personalise content based on real-time transactions and, crucially for quick adoption purposes, requires no in-depth technology knowledge or experience.

“To succeed in the smartphone era, businesses need to embrace technologies that optimise for mobile devices. mporium's patent pending technologies are built with the express intention of enabling brands, retailers, agencies and broadcasters to prosper in this new environment,” the company said in its results statement.

The company believes that both platforms are highly innovative products that deploy leading technologies that are new to their target markets. To protect its intellectual property (IP), several new patent applications have been filed and the patent applications process has begun to protect various aspects of the proprietary technology underpinning both products. 

Internal processes for innovation harvesting, capture and protection have been established as part of this ongoing IP strategy to build a comprehensive and robust intellectual property portfolio, mporium told investors.

So, what has been going on behind the scenes?

Nothing less than a complete revision of the business strategy and the refocusing of development resources. This refocusing, coupled with a strategic partnership with Cxense ASA (a Norwegian-based and Oslo Stock Exchange quoted Tech company), has enabled mporium to develop attractive products in a short time period in the fast-moving world of mobile software.

Investors have been patiently waiting to see the fruits of all this behind the scenes work, and they will not have to wait much longer.

In its interim results, released in late August, the group said its two key software products had shown encouraging results in live environments during the first half of 2016.

Work is still going on to refine the products, in response to customer feedback, and this is being paid for by the company’s well-supported £3.1mln fund-raising back in June.

The half-year results revealed an increase in revenue to £870,473 from £559,065 the year before, while the loss before tax narrowed to £2.93mln from £3.90mln the year before, but, in reality, these numbers were not particularly germane to the company mporium is on the road to becoming.

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