Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA Q&A: Andy Powell, VP and MD of InMobi EMEA talks in-app advertising

Andy Powell, VP and MD on InMobi EMEA, tells NDA how InMobi’s own ad exchange and Software Development Kit (SDK) are helping it speak directly to its clients – and why in-app advertising is a critical part of every brand’s 360 media mix.  

Hi Andy, thanks for your time today. Can you start by giving us a brief overview of your career history?

My media career spans over 20 years now, which makes me feel extremely old. I started out in print ad sales, and I mainly worked in B2B before moving from London to Dubai 14 years ago, switching to consumer digital. I helped launch the Time Out Dubai website before joining Yahoo as a client development manager. It’s been nine years since I joined InMobi. My initial role was as a sales manager, but I’ve since worked my way up to Vice President and MD for EMEA.

How has the InMobi exchange model evolved?

Things have changed a great deal in the last few years. Initially our exchange supply was only available programmatically via the Rubicon platform – now Magnite – meaning the majority of buyers were accessing InMobi supply indirectly. However, our exchange has evolved and grown tremendously. InMobi offers one of the largest global in-app exchange as well as a in-app optimized DSPs and buyers, both brands and performance clients.

As part of this, we’ve worked closely with publishers to evolve and improve our SDK. This gives better measurement, higher render rates, and allows us to serve more exciting, attention grabbing creative – all of which drive better campaign results. 

What has driven growth for you in recent years?

Growth is coming from all angles. The fact that we’re now a global business, with offices in more than  20 countries.  And our growth is coming from pretty much every market, including both Americas and China. Our SDK offers direct connections for both  brands and advertisers which helps us manage demand more effectively, as well as a window to the market evolution allowing us to make improvements to our offering based on what demand looks like. 

In this way we’ve been able to improve our products and understand our clients’ needs, which is why we’re so hot on working with third-party entities to ensure that we’re class-leading in terms of viewability, brand safety and sustainability. We make ourselves attractive to new suppliers and brands.

Mobile’s irrepressible rise is also causing brands to look at in-app in a new light. Mobile is no longer considered simply a performance channel, and brands are beginning to realise they need to focus on in-app as part of their 360 media strategy. We’re seeing a lot of brands moving budgets into in-app, and that’s really accelerating growth.

However, I think the biggest driver of growth is the fact that we’ve always tried to work very closely with our advertisers and brands, to make sure that we’re going out and sourcing the inventory they want. We’re using our SDK to build relevant audiences for advertisers, and to solve the challenges they have in reaching mobile audiences. 

How has InMobi evolved from an in-app ad network to one of the biggest powerhouses in programmatic?

The combination of launching our own fully-fledged ad exchange and the uptake of our SDK has really made InMobi a programmatic success. Particularly the advent of the SDK because, as you’re right to say, we were essentially an in-app ad network prior to its development. The SDK sits at the heart of everything we do and make. It has allowed us to do a lot more for our advertisers in terms of building audiences, understanding their consumers’ journeys, and providing a direct, frictionless path to buying inventory. We now have 95% direct supply on app ads across 120 global DSPs, which is mind-blowing when you think about it.

Finally, we’ve always had a large publisher network, but we’ve succeeded in transferring our publisher and app developer relationships onto our exchange, and now have over 40,000 apps on the InMobi exchange. These factors have enabled us to play a leading role in industry innovations like universal IDs and, at the end of the day, give advertisers a better return on investment for whatever their ad spend is.

Tell us a bit about your partners…

We partner with a huge variety of businesses for a broad variety of reasons. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got more than 40,000 apps available in our exchange, which reach over two billion users. Our customers range from blue-chip FMCG companies to the biggest airlines and telcos. We work with all the major agencies, but we also have over twenty ecosystem partners, including TAG and HUMAN, who help us tackle invalid traffic and fraud. We’re also extremely hot on gaining any new third party certification, which we’re currently working on for attention measurement. 

And finally, what’s on the horizon for InMobi – any exciting challenges ahead?

Ultimately, we’re on a mission to change the way brands and advertisers think about in-app advertising. In-app shouldn’t be lumped in under the generic banner of digital, or even mobile advertising. Instead, it should be considered a completely unique channel that plays a significant role in any company’s media mix. In-app offers the best viewability performance, video completion rates and creative rendering, so it’s a no-brainer that brands and advertisers should commit significant spend to it.