Rob Jonas, who was Google’s director of strategic partnerships for Europe, recently left the company to join mobile advertising network InMobi and establish a London office.
I’ve been talking to Rob about his reasons for joining InMobi, and the mobile advertising market in Europe..,.
Why did you decide to leave Google and join InMobi?
I decided I would like to go back to the challenge of working at a venture-backed business. I focused on mobile advertising as an area that appealed to me and which offers huge opportunities for growth.
Having looked around, InMobi was the stand out proposition. I have been looking at all the growth opportunities in digital marketing, and came to the conclusion that things are coming together at the right time for growth in the mobile advertising market.
Tell me about InMobi…
It’s a business that was built out of India in 2007, originally as an SMS, but moved quickly into the mobile ad network business, focusing on the Asian market. It is the market leader in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and other countries.
The company took on investment from Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers as well as Sherpalo Ventures. The combination of a very entrepreneurial Indian startup and the expertise of Kleiner meant that the next logical step was to expand into Europe.
InMobi currently serves 6bn ads per month worldwide, and around 500m per month in Europe.
What will your new role be at InMobi?
I’m the European MD, and I’m here to build up the business across the European market and take inMobi to the next level.
InMobi has a nice business in Europe already through its online platform, and is doing well across 21 markets, but with a team on the ground – I’ll be opening an office in London- we aim to build up relationships with advertisers and agencies and grow the business further.
How do you see the mobile ad market developing in Europe this year?
There is huge tension in the app space with the building up of the iPhone and Android ecosystems. Europe offers many challenges, and there is huge complexity across the different markets.
The UK is much more like the US market, with a greater take up of iPhones and other smartphones, but Eastern Europe is more like Asia. It’s a lot more complex then the PC web space.
In Eastern Europe, as in Asia, there is a greater focus on WAP marketplaces, and less so smartphones and apps. The mobile advertising market is competitive in Europe, and everyone has advantages an disadvantages, but we’re excited about the advantages we have at inMobi.
How do you measure mobile advertising ROI for your advertisers?
Our advertisers fall into three broad categories; you have the pure performance advertisers who work to drive downloads etc, and we work closely with them to show data around conversions and gather feedback to improve campaigns.
Then there are the brand performance advertisers who have specific objectives and will share performance data with us to help us to optimise ad performance. After this we have pure brand advertisers, who are less ROI-focused, though we can provide them with data on their campaigns.
We’re starting to see more pure brand advertisers test the mobile ad networks to see how effective it can be as an advertising platform.
What have been the barriers to mobile advertising? What has changed recently?
Historically, a lot of factors have hampered the uptake, including complexity around different mobile devices, while last year we had the impact of recession which meant ad budgets which may have gone to mobile were cut.
Now, we have a more positive economic situation, a greater level of interest in mobile from advertisers and brands, and the uptake of smartphones. A lot of the structure needed for mobile advertising to grow is now in and has come together in Europe, so 2010 looks like it will be the start of a period of growth for the market.