Mobile advertising already has a reach that digital and TV can only dream about; the handset has become indispensable
Quick-fire intro: name, role, company, favourite app, hopes and fears for 2012?
John Stoneman, sales director, Europe and Middle East, InMobi, TuneIn Radio, I hope to live by the sea one day and fear that I’ll spend the rest of my life commuting into London.
Tell us a little about InMobi and your priorities for 2012.
InMobi is the world’s largest independent mobile ad network, we serve over 90 billion ads a month into apps and mobile websites in pretty much every country in the world. In 2012, we will be focusing on developing compelling rich-media campaigns to help brands mobilise their marketing strategy, monetising the inventory of our publisher partners, and continuing to open offices with local support across the world.
What’s needed to take mobile advertising to the next level and match up against digital and TV ad revenues?
Mobile advertising already has a reach that the digital and TV platforms can only dream about, but we need to reach a level of sophistication, accountability and order to match. With such a large number of competing operating systems, ad formats and targeting options, mobile is an incredibly complex buy for advertisers, and then there’s the bewildering number of buying points. So we need consolidation and simplification if we are to truly compete with TV and digital. But this will be a matter of when, rather than if, the mobile juggernaut is rolling.
Consoles, mobile, tablet, connected TV – how can content owners manage (and monetise) this multitude of platforms effectively?
Content owners need to be smart, and they need to focus on what they do best, namely the creation of content. They have a choice to monetise all of these platforms either through their own workforce or by outsourcing to a partner such as InMobi. However, if content owners are doing the former, then they need to invest time and money in making this work, and if they choose the latter, then they should shop around for a partner that is complimentary to their business objectives, and then be realistic about how much money they expect to make. In order to be successful, content owners must use formats that are made for the medium, not just a rehash of their website, and they need to strike effective technology partnerships. It’s getting increasingly difficult to do this all on your own.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth coming from in the future, and how should the media industries contend with the post-PC era?
The greatest opportunity for future growth is to tap into the amazing groundswell of activity on mobile. We’ve just announced the findings of our Global Mobile Consumption survey, a survey of over 20,000 consumers across 18 markets. Among the findings was that on average consumers with feature phones or smartphones spend 27% of their time on the mobile web. In fact, consumers are now spending more time using mobile internet than watching TV. The handset has become completely indispensable to us, and we use it constantly.
I’m fortunate that my job allows me to travel to many cities around the world and it’s the same everywhere. People are constantly connected, and are consuming the attractions that their mobile device has to offer at all times. If I were a media owner, I would be tremendously excited at the possibility of reaching people throughout their day, and if I were a marketeer, I would be anxious to ensure that I was positioning my brand in the relevant points along those journeys. Although the mobile marketing world has taken big steps in the past two years, our industry is still lagging behind the consumer. Do a count of the number of devices you see on your next commute and you will realise just how pervasive mobile has become.
What are the most important macro-trends that the media industry should be paying attention to? Where are the threats and where are the opportunities for growth?
The biggest macro trend in my mind is manpower. Every company I know in mobile is hiring like mad, and we’re no exception. While experienced talent can be both hard to find and expensive, enthusiastic talent is readily available and often provides a cheaper option. There are more of us, and we are doing more business. Whenever InMobi has added more staff, we have increased revenues. As workforces in mobile increase, the industry as a whole gets more business done. We gain more experience, more knowledge, and that experience gets passed down to the enthusiastic learner, greatly increasing the speed of their effectiveness. And as our world gets larger, we offer a significant threat to the established world order of marketing – TV, digital, outdoor etc. We’re coming after those budgets, and I’d recommend you embrace or even join us.
What’s next for the intersection of social, local and mobile?
I think I may be the world’s greatest so-lo-mo cynic. Social, local and mobile desperately need to find some compelling business cases on a very large scale. There are lots of examples of cool or creative intersections of the three, but there are not many that are red-hot money makers, and I think that without the combinations of compelling user journeys and profitability, there is the danger of the three checking in to the buzzword graveyard. Show me the intersections of the three that have meaningful benefits for the general public and that can make good money for a company, rather than the latest unprofitable so-lo-mo app that wows a few industry insiders at an app developer conference.
How is mobile changing the relationship between advertisers, publishers and developers?
I don’t think the relationship between the publisher, advertiser and developer has changed one jot since the very first newspapers emerged. Newspapers needed advertisers to supplement cover price, editorial teams needed technology providers with printing presses and a distribution system to deliver their products. In the mobile world these positions are still maintained by publisher, advertiser and technology provider (developer). It’s true that the barrier of cost of entry has plummeted, and that there are an alarming number of middle men trying to take a slice of the revenues at all stages in between, but our business is an old one, it’s just our technology which has evolved. Success is still a case of those with the most compelling content attracting those with the largest budgets, and we all need those with the best technology to deliver it. It is our relationships that define our success.
And finally, what’s your message to the media industry at the Guardian Changing Media Summit?
Look at your own personal mobile usage, look at your family and friends’ usage. Look at your work colleagues. Look at people on the train and at the bus stop. Look at people who switch to their mobile when the TV adverts come on. Look at people standing in the passport queues at airports. Mobile is everywhere and it’s just waiting for the established publishing and marketing worlds to realise it. So look to yourselves. Feel free to ask me any questions and do come over to say hi, as InMobi will be exhibiting at the Guardian Changing Media Summit.
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