One of the problems most exercising mobile operators, ISPs and OTT players alike is how go about maximising the monetisation of social and messaging apps. Many have tried but, to date, few have succeeded to any particularly notable extent - until now.
InMobi, founded in India in 2007, claims to be the world's most powerful mobile advertising platform and says that sites and publishers using its Native Ads Platform, the company's performance-based mobile ad network solution, can enjoying a five-fold increase in monetisation compared to other solutions from other companies
At the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs (although I never saw her actually doing it) please forgive me if you already know this; "Native Ads" are advertisements that mimic the form and function of the app in which they are placed.
Social and messaging apps are among the fastest growing categories in app stores with many of them being in specialised areas such as dating, anonymous posts, the sharing of common interests and hobbies (such as train spotting and the collecting of bus tickets) and so on.
Enabling such a diverse range of apps with native ads requires a particularly versatile ad platform that puts publishers in control of just how they would like to render ads and the InMobi Native Ads solutions are tailored to different app categories, making it much easier for publishers to deliver an intuitive ad experience.
Last year, InMobi launched the world's first self-serve native ads platform and has successfully 'on-boarded' popular social and messaging apps including Tango, Blackberry Messenger, TextMe, Pinger, Chatous, Skout, MeetMe and Handcent for native monetisation.
Indeed, as Olivier Rozay, Vice President of Business Development and Monetisation at the aforementioned Pinger says, “Native Ads are important to us because they provide a superior user experience, higher engagement for advertisers and in the end, result in a five times higher monetisation performance. InMobi has been the perfect partner to help us achieve this.”
Atul Satija, the Chief Revenue Officer at InMobi says, “Fifteen of the top 50 social and messaging apps that we work with collectively account for 600 million users. InMobi provides advertisers with a unified platform to reach these diverse users across multiple apps. These are highly engaged users, as we see one in every three social and messaging users access one or more apps at four different times of the day.”
Research shows that social and messaging apps have been leading the adoption of mobile native ads and 78 per cent of all native ads on the InMobi platform are delivered on apps in these categories.
Piyush Shah, the Chief Product Officer at InMobi says, “Reports indicate that that social and messaging apps are expected to rake-in $US25 billion in revenues by 2017 as they expand and begin to offer services such as payments, taxi booking and app distribution. Our Native Ads platform enables every app in these categories - and in other categories too, such as entertainment, photo, utilities and news - to not only monetise their user base smartly but also provide an engaging and effective discovery experience to their users.”
With more than a billion unique users across more than 160 countries, InMobi serves billions of ads daily. It is backed by Soft Bank.
Such is the current buzz around InMobi that earlier this month CEO Naveen Tewari was forced to email all the InMobi staff to put a stop to pervasive rumours that Google is considering paying $1 billion for InMobi. Mr. Tewari did not deny that Google had put out feelers but the email said, "We are building an amazing company and the market space is very huge. Given the level of innovation and disruption we are about to cause, there is no reason to sell."
InMobi has built itself up to be the world's biggest independent mobile advertising player after Google and Facebook. With more than 900 employees and estimated revenues of some $375 million p.a. the company is profitable - which is more than can be said for many other players in the same game.
Google may have backed-off for the moment but if InMobi continues along its successful path the Cookie Monster could well be back later with another offer. After all, Google really needs access to the mobile space and now lags a very long way behind Facebook and Twitter since the heady days of its $750 million acquisition of AdMob way back in the dim, distant and antedeluvian days of 2009. Six years is ancient history in this lark and Google needs to make its mark in mobile - and sooner rather than later
Declan Kennedy, the CEO of StitcherAds, reckons buying-out InMobi would be a sensible defensive strategy on Google's part. He says, "The next couple of years are going to see both Google and Facebook come up against each other to offer more off-property advertising inventory across the app and mobile webscape. However, it’s a war Google is unlikely to win - Facebook has the stronger social base, and without the people-based advertising element, Google is missing a key component of the advertising formula."
However, as things stand today InMobi remains independent and an IPO at some time in the none too distant future remains a distinct possibility. Naveen Tawari has dropped the hint several times that a public floatation of the company is the way he would really like to go. Time will tell.