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According to technology researcher Gartner Inc, mobile ad spending will touch $18 billion by 2014-end, and grow to about $42 billion by 2017. Photo: Mint
According to technology researcher Gartner Inc, mobile ad spending will touch $18 billion by 2014-end, and grow to about $42 billion by 2017. Photo: Mint

InMobi overhauls its management structure

The move comes as the firm seeks to tap newer sources of revenue from e-commerce and telecom equipment manufacturers

Bangalore: Mobile advertising network InMobi has rejigged its management structure in a bid to tap newer sources of revenue from e-commerce and telecom equipment manufacturers, a move that may help the company compete better with significantly bigger firms such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. that dominate the online advertising business.

As part of the reshuffle, co-founders Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal will now focus on strategic initiatives in the areas of advertising in e-commerce and telecom hardware firms, and oversee revenue-sharing agreements that InMobi has with such firms, in a bid to get a bigger slice of ad revenue from these customers, said at least three people familiar with the developments.

Gupta and Singhal’s earlier roles will be taken up by newly promoted internal managers, said the three persons who did not want to be named.

Gupta’s previous revenue and operations role has been taken by Atul Satija, who headed the Japan-Pacific business.

Jayesh Easwaramony, who led business development in Japan-Pacific, has been promoted as head of Asia-Pacific, where he now oversees revenue, profit and loss, and operations across the markets.

Co-founder Singhal headed the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) businesses.

“(Founder Naveen) Tewari is trying desperately to make sure that InMobi does not get disrupted and ensure a steady revenue stream from these newer areas. In mobile advertising, companies can become irrelevant overnight unless they move fast," said the first person cited above.

InMobi, for instance, is attempting to get access to more user time and bridge the gap between advertisers and users and make use of the amount of time an average person spends on a phone, and use its analytics platform to predict user behaviour, which advertisers can use for targeted campaigns.

The company has also created new verticals in its EMEA business, with new roles being created in the region.

Ed Laws, who used to head performance in EMEA, has been promoted to global head of performance advertising. Ian Dowds now heads the brand business for EMEA, and InMobi is looking to appoint someone to head its North America brand business.

An InMobi spokesperson confirmed all the above-cited developments.

As part of the organizational reshuffle, InMobi has also clamped down on costs and moved some employees from its overseas offices to Bangalore.

“Some of these clients can be served online easily, so there was no need to maintain a certain presence in some regions, so those roles were moved to Bangalore," said the first person cited above.

The firm is betting that the push towards e-commerce advertising will translate into a third of overall revenue over the next three-four years, and experts said InMobi had no option but to diversify if it wanted to ensure its attractive value proposition to investors.

“The mobile ad network can’t be the only thing that InMobi can rely on to take them forward, so they have to diversify and, it looks like they’re doing exactly that," said Neha Dharia, consumer telecoms research analyst at Ovum.

InMobi has already worked with US and European companies in its new mobile commerce business and it is also chasing Indian and Chinese e-commerce firms as shoppers in these countries are increasingly using smartphones to buy things, InMobi products head Piyush Shah said in an interview in April.

Shah estimated that the e-commerce business alone could generate sales of $1 billion for InMobi within the next five years.

As shoppers around the world increasingly use smartphones to buy products, InMobi is also working with e-commerce firms such as eBay Inc. as well as brick-and-mortar retailers, hotels and other businesses to help them grab a share of the fast-growing mobile commerce sector.

As part of the new business, InMobi is also generating money by driving downloads of mobile apps.

The push into mobile and online commerce as well as telecoms comes at a time of intensifying competition from significantly bigger companies such as Google Inc, which dominates the mobile ads business, as well as from Facebook and Twitter.

Many independent ad networks the world over such as Millennial Media and YuMe Inc are struggling—reflected in their sagging stock prices—and experts predict that smaller mobile ad companies will likely be acquired or merge among themselves.

In the new businesses, too, InMobi is likely to come up against Google and Facebook.

Since its inception in 2007, InMobi has launched its own native ad platform to challenge established rivals like Google and Facebook, at a time when a number of advertisers switch to native ad platforms from traditional banner ads.

According to technology researcher Gartner Inc, mobile ad spending will touch $18 billion by 2014-end, and grow to about $42 billion by 2017.

Gartner estimates that display formats will drive most of the growth, but video will record the fastest growth—an area that InMobi has attempted to tap into recently with the launch of its interactive video ad platform earlier this year.

InMobi, which currently generates an annual revenue of close to $500 million, according to company insiders, plans to hit the $1-billion sales mark by 2016-17.

On Thursday, The Economic Times reported that InMobi is in advanced discussions with two new investors to raise upto $300 million in funding, as it seeks a valuation of between $1.5-2 billion, citing two anonymous sources.

The Bangalore-based firm’s existing investors include the likes of Japan’s SoftBank, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and Sherpalo Ventures.

InMobi has raised between $200-250 million from the existing investors till date.

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