Three years is a long time in the evolution of a company…mobile advertising network InMobi, yesterday announced its launch in the US market. Partnerships that have currently been announced include mobile video search engine Vuclip, mobile social network MocoSpace, and mobile content site Zedge. Since its soft launch in the US market in January 2010, the company claims it has available, 2 billion advertising impressions monthly, of a total 16.7 billion advertising impressions available for serving across the globe. It’s important to point out here that InMobi has disclosed ‘available advertising impressions’ (i.e. inventory), as opposed to how many advertising impressions are actually being served by it. InMobi had been started as a mobile search company called MKhoj, changed tracks to become a mobile SMS advertising company, and finally to its current mobile advertising network avatar.
Headquartered in Bangalore, InMobi has operations in Mumbai, London, San Francisco, Singapore and Tokyo, and the company claims to reach mobile consumers in 108 countries. It is no longer a bet just on developing world advertising (which would have been a struggle anyway). The mobile ad network had previously launched operations in Europe in August last year, and while an inventory comparison is heavily in favor of the Asia Pacific region, a comparison in terms of monetization would be far more relevant. It’s particularly interesting that just within 2 months, the US market accounts for 11 percent of its available inventory: this shows the divide in usage patterns.
While AdMob’s inventory information is not available, according to it’s April 2010 report (pdf), it serviced 1.7 billion advertising delivery requests in India, compared to 7.4 billion in the US. (Note: InMobi has disclosed inventory, while AdMob has disclosed ‘Ad Requests’).
A debate appears to be raging currently in the developed markets, about whether access to services on the mobile is going to be driven by applications or the mobile Internet. Alongwith its launch in the US, InMobi has also released Software Development Kits (SDKs) for the iPhone and Android handsets.
Our take is that the expansion into the US market is the most significant move yet for InMobi, from both perspectives – inventory as well as monetization, because the mobile advertising market there, helped by a surge in data usage, appears to be growing, and if InMobi has to be a significant acquisition target (now that AdMob has been acquired by Google), it needs to compete in the US market. InMobi is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Sherpalo Ventures and Mumbai Angels.