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India, The Largest Mobile Ad Market in APAC – Interview with Atul Satija of InMobi Technologies

The global mobile ad industry is a billion dollar industry. According to a recent report by Gartner, mobile ad revenue is forecasted to reach $3.3 billion in 2011, more than doubling the $1.6 billion generated in 2010.  We recently had an opportunity to sit down with InMobi Technologies’ Vice President and Managing Director, Mr. Atul Satija, to discuss this vast market.

Background – The Rise of Mobile Internet Advertising

Today, mobile Internet ads have transformed into a massive media industry that has changed the way of digital advertisement. Mobile Internet allows the customization of ads which in turn lets marketers target customers based on their specific interests and demographics.  eMarketer predicts mobile ad spending will reach billions of dollars during 2011; India itself has more than 25 million active mobile Internet users. The demand for smart phones has risen rapidly along with gradual registration for 3G services.

According to the Relevancy Group‘s survey findings, there is a huge potential for growth in the burgeoning industry.

The survey indicates that even though marketers understand the vital importance of global mobile marketing and want to invest, they are seeking a new and more effective approach. eMarketer has identified three priorities for global mobile marketing in 2011:

  • 73% say improving the ROI for mobile campaigns is a top priority
  • 54% say increasing email subscribers is a priority
  • 53% say that building a social community is a priority

“On mobile, click-based ad units aren’t valid options for mobile marketers focused on increasing ROI.  Mobile advertising requires a dramatic shift that is both focused on and respectful of the user — honoring a good experience with meaningful engagement.”
David Daniels, CEO and Co-Founder, The Relevancy Group.

“Mobile’s time is now—mobile is on everyone’s lips.  Mobile is the missing piece to pull local advertising together.  Mobile is the missing link for marketers.  Everything can be tracked through mobile devices,” said Greg Stuart, global CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, New York.

Wendy Clark, senior vice president of integrated marketing at Coca-Cola, said “If your plans don’t include mobile, then your plans are not finished.”

Atul Satija’s Thoughts – mobiSights Interview

Talking about a new and innovative approach, we have Indian giant, InMobi technologies.  Their unique market-wise and quality-wise approach has become the world’s largest independent mobile ad network.

InMobi’s VP and MD Mr. Atul Satija shares his views exclusively with mobiSights on InMobi’s approach and the current and future state of the global mobile ad market.

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[mobiSights] I understand that your approach for InMobi was to start from the rest of the world, and then moved West? How has this paid off?

[Satija] Our approach of starting from the rest of the world, and then moving westward, has worked extremely well for us. We took the leadership position in markets that were not being served by others, but that had a huge latent demand for our services.  The experience helped us fine-tune our product and business model even as we scaled in these markets.  Our leadership position in these markets has helped us achieve the critical mass needed to compete successfully in the developed markets of Europe, Japan and North America.

[mobiSights] What’s the difference between the US market, and the India market for InMobi?

[Satija] Each of the markets that we compete in presents challenges that are unique to the market. The US is a developed market, so far as mobile advertising is concerned, whereas in India brands and agencies are only recently warming up to the tremendous potential of mobile advertising. The conversations we have in these markets vary depending on the market we are in.

[mobiSights] How is mobile advertising different from other forms of digital advertisement media?

[Satija] Mobile advertising differs from other forms of digital advertisement in at least 4 ways

  1. Ubiquitous – We carry our mobile device with us everywhere. This means that the advertiser has a way to reach the consumer 24/7. No other digital media comes anywhere close to this.
  2. Granular call to action – A mobile device scores over other digital media, because call to actions can be immediate. Downloading an app, calling to register interest, and sharing with friends, are all actions that are natural, intuitive, and immediate in the case of mobile based advertising.
  3. Immersive – Smartphones today have immense computing power, large touchscreens, and sensors such as accelerometers. These capabilities enable advertisers and brands to engage consumers in a fashion that other digital media cannot. For example, a consumer can touch an ad and start interacting with the product or brand. A group buying site, such as a Groupon or Snapdeal, could run a campaign where consumers can refresh their deals by shaking the phone. Such an experience is difficult for other digital media to emulate. Research shows that engagement with a brand is higher when consumers interact with them.
  4. Targeted – A mobile ad network such as InMobi can do what other digital media can do, and then a lot more. In addition to the usual segmentation & targeting variables of content types, region, and demographics, InMobi can also segment and target users by handset type, OS, and telecom operator. This is extremely powerful as a telecom operator can target consumers on its rival network. Similarly, a handset maker can run a campaign targeting consumers that use its competitor’s products. It can even target its own consumers to upgrade to a higher value product. The possibilities are immense.

[mobiSights] How do you see the future of the mobile Internet advertising industry?

[Satija] These are exciting times for the mobile Internet advertisement industry. We have scraped only the surface.  The high growth that we have seen thus far has been fueled by largely local players. Traditionally large advertisers have just begun to spend money on mobile ads. Given the impressive capabilities of devices, the interest from advertisers and the creative evolution, we are poised for tremendous growth in the industry.

[mobiSights] How does InMobi Technologies see the APAC market, especially the Chinese market, in respect to company growth prospective?

[Satija] APAC was InMobi’s earliest market, and continues to be an important market for us. We are expanding rapidly in the region in terms of people and revenue and hope to sustain the momentum. We are headquartered in Bangalore, India, and have a local presence in the important markets we operate in, in each different region.  China and South Korea are vital to our APAC strategy. We already have an office in South Korea and are actively looking at establishing our local presence in China.

[mobiSights] Where do you see mobile Internet usage growth in India?

[Satija] For a large section of the Indian population, mobile is the first and perhaps the only connected device that it has. More people in India access the Internet through mobiles than they do via PC broadband. With the 3G services being rolled out recently and the increased affluence [of people within cities], mobile Internet usage is only going to grow in India.

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India – The Largest Mobile Advertising Market in APAC

According to the report presented by InMobi, India was declared the largest mobile advertising market in APAC. InMobi claims to reach 314 million consumers in over 165 countries through more than 43.7 Billion mobile ad impressions monthly. In May 2011, they launched InMobi SmartPay, a global mobile payment solution.  InMobi had also announced a world developer fund in order to attract mobile app developers. InMobi has 83 million monthly U.S. users on their ad network; InMobi predicts to reach 75% of all U.S. smartphone users by end of 2011.

According to global digital ad industry analysts, mobile ads today represent 15% of online advertising, and are expected to represent and grow to 64% of all digital ads by 2015.

Analysts predict that as time passes by, global mobile ads are going to be the first, and perhaps the top preferential choice for the digital advertisement industry.

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About InMobi

InMobi is the largest independent global mobile ad network in the world. The company was founded in India in 2007 where it became the dominate ad network across the Asia Pacific Region. The company launched in the U.S. and Europe in early 2010. InMobi is backed by highly regarded Silicon Valley venture firms: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sherpalo Ventures, and Mumbai Angels.

Unlike other mobile ad networks, InMobi has massive scale mobile technology expertise and real-time post-click ad optimization technology. This helps connect publishers, advertisers, developers, and consumers in any region around the globe.

InMobi is headquartered in Bangalore, India and has offices in: Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, San Francisco, New York, London, Nairobi, and Johannesburg.

InMobi has recently acquired the U.S. ad firm, Sprout, which provides a platform for creating HTML 5-based mobile phone ads.

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