Business / Advertising boom

The next mobile goldmine?

By Gao Yuan (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-04 10:34

The next mobile goldmine?

Naveen Tewari, founder and chief executive officer of InMobi, speaking during the presentation "Bring Companies and Consumers Together Through the Mobile Ecosystem" at the Seoul digital forum in the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul, South Korea. The company plans to tap the Chinese market by reaching smart phone users, aiming to become the country's best mobile advertising provider by the end of this year. [Photo/China Daily]

InMobi aims to be China's best cellphone ad provider by 2013

China's mobile advertising market could become another goldmine for advertising agencies despite the fact it is young, relatively undeveloped and segmented, said executives from InMobi, the world's largest independent mobile advertisement network by customer numbers.

"In China we reach more than 63 million smart phone users through more than 13,000 mobile applications. We plan to further cultivate this market by implementing localized strategies," said Naveen Tewari, founder and chief executive officer of InMobi. "Our goal is to become China's best mobile advertising provider by the end of this year."

The nation's mobile phone users exceeded 1 billion this year, statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed. About a quarter of the users are also smart phone users.

The company, headquartered in Bangalore, India, is the No 2 advertising provider in terms of audience coverage. The No 1 is Google Inc, the world's most used Internet search engine, which has phenomenally large numbers of advertising slots for sale.

InMobi has no intention of competing with Google head on because the online advertising market is huge enough for both companies to thrive, said Tewari.

InMobi will focus on the mobile advertising sector, the major battle field for the company since its foundation in 2007. "Nobody is investing more than us in developing new technologies specialized for the mobile advertising sector," he said.

InMobi claimed to have reached 578 million mobile users worldwide. It also said more than 93.4 billion mobile advertisements are sent from InMobi's platform each month. The company's large customer base benefited from the popularity of smart phones and other multimedia-rich portable devices such as Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad.

In mid-September 2011, InMobi raised $200 million in funding from Japan's Softbank Corp. It remains the largest sum of financing in the mobile advertising industry globally.

However, InMobi does not think China is the right place to find easy money, not just because it only entered the market in 2011 but also owing to the complexity of the market.

"China is a unique market for mobile advertising," explained Atul Satija, vice-president and managing director of InMobi Asia Pacific. "The first reason is that the nation's mobile advertising market remains too fragmented."

There is a huge number of app stores for the Android operating system but, in other markets, there was only Google's Android app store, Satija explained.

Second, China's mobile phone payment sector remains young and less ordered, he added.

"Users don't know which mobile payment platform they can rely on. The confusion among users may hinder the growth of China's mobile payment market."

The problematic app payment market will cause other problems: The app developers need users to purchase apps to survive. However, the Chinese tend to use free apps instead of paid ones.

For this reason, the alternative way for the developers to make profits is to embed advertisements in their free apps - an area InMobi is working hard trying to dominate.

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