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MarTech Interview with Abhay Singhal, CEO at InMobi Marketing Cloud

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“Brands need to be more proactive about providing value to consumers and ensuring they can exceed their needs rapidly at every stage of the buying journey.”

Journey into Tech

Hi Abhay, tell us about your journey in technology. You are a pioneer in the Mobile AdTech market. What inspired you to start with InMobi?

Back in 2007, we had a feeling that mobile phones were going to be big. We wanted to start something of our own, so we took a bet and dove headfirst into Mobile Advertising. The rest, as they say, is history. Our journey has had its fair share of ups and downs, but we’ve held true to our mobile-first vision and that has led us to today.

We saw some of the biggest M&As in MarTech in 2019. What cue did you take from these tech M&As to build a roadmap for 2020-2024?

There are two key trends that I see here. For one, as the walled gardens further entrench themselves, companies need to put themselves in a better position to compete.

Only those that offer a comparative scale or a unique differentiator, like high-quality data, will be able to survive. We’re also separately seeing renewed interest in the space from private equity, and this is manifested in renewed financial activity in AdTech.

What approach do you take to target customers in a new market with new technologies like OTT, and CTV?

When it comes to CTV, proceed with caution. Since it is such a nascent space, it’s not 100% trustworthy or transparent yet. There’s a lot of potential here, but the scale isn’t there yet, nor are the safeguards.

One area where we’ve seen a lot of success in APAC, and in China in particular, is in helping our advertiser partners find CTV lookalike audiences on mobile. Based on CTV viewership data, we could determine likely future customers and then enable brands to go after those particular consumers on mobile. We’re not there yet in North America, but I think we will be there soon.

As far as OTT content is concerned, we often see viewership happening on mobile. In fact, between June 2018 and July 2019, net new installs of the top five SVOD apps in the U.S. increased 4x. These app owners spend at least four hours a month, on average, viewing SVOD video on their mobile devices. Viewed from this lens, OTT is less of a nascent trend and more of a continuation of already well-established mobile habits.

Ultimately, there are a lot of parallels between Mobile advertising and CTV advertising. It all comes down to apps. The main difference is simply that the end screen is different.

OTT, CTV and Mobile AdTech

What are your thoughts on the blurring boundaries in Advertising technologies? Would OTT and CTVs continue to march forward and leap ahead of the Mobile AdTech market?

I think this is the natural evolution to becoming more focused on the person than on the device. Hopefully, we’ll get to a point where we know our users no matter what device they use or where they go throughout the day, while also being highly respectful of their right to privacy.

I don’t know if leap ahead is the right phrase, but I do see OTT and CTV continuing to grow and expand. I see a lot of potential in CTV.

Tell us more about your Product development team and how it engages with Sales and Customer Service departments to solve unique challenges that your customers often raise.

My goal in 2020 is to ensure that Product, Tech, Sales and Business leaders have as many opportunities as possible to speak directly with our customers. We launched our first Customer Advisory Board for InMobi Exchange in January, and there will be a lot more of that throughout the year. I think it’s absolutely critical for us to understand the needs and requirements of our customers so that we can fully embody a customer-first mentality throughout the organization.

Team Building and Predictions

What kind of coordination do you maintain with your CMO, CIO and CTO? What are the usual points of disagreements in these functions?

I sit directly behind our CFO and just a few desks down from our global Head of Marketing. I’m also in direct contact daily with my other Co-founders and other C-suite members.

We all have the same goals and are working towards them through our specific areas of expertise. As long as the organization is aligned on goals and on the best end result, then achieving day-to-day coordination comes naturally.

We’re seeing a rampant adoption of AI, Blockchain, and RPA in the AdTech businesses. What approach do you take in digitally transforming your operations with AI ML and RPA techniques? Have they borne you satisfactory results?

We have always been a technology-led organization and have embraced AI for years. In fact, our consumer product, Glance, provides custom recommendations to users through AI algorithms.

On the InMobi Marketing Cloud side, we leverage AI algorithms to predict creatives performance, determine the best bids, optimize for bid price and fill rate, find and reach the best performing customers, etc.

What are your predictions for adtech in the APAC + ANZ markets for 2020-2024?

Throughout APAC, we see the emergence of the connected consumer. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile across languages, regions, incomes, etc., the way consumers buy and what they expect from brands has changed considerably.

This means that brands need to be more proactive about providing value to consumers and ensuring they can exceed their needs rapidly at every stage of the buying journey. I actually don’t want to go into too much detail here, as we’ll be releasing our 2020 trends report for APAC imminently.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

To me, it’s vitally important to invest in AI at all levels of the organization. I think it makes sense to start from an understanding of what our customers struggle with and what they want to do, and then let our data scientists figure out how AI can be applied to solve their problems.

This Is How I Work

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I demand it. Unless we’re all aligned on our tools and processes, we’re just going to keep spinning our wheels. I ensure that tech is the conduit to all of my meetings and to how I view our relative success as an organization.

One word that best describes how you work.

Persistent.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

Satya Nadella 🙂

Thank you, Abhay! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Abhay is the CEO at InMobi Marketing Cloud. He is a experienced Co-Founder with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry.

Abhay is skilled in Mobile Advertising, Advertising Sales, Advertising, Sales, and Business Development.

inmobi logo

InMobi is the world’s leading Marketing Cloud, driving real connections between brands and consumers. We create new paths for brands to understand, identify, engage and acquire consumers by leveraging our exclusive access to mobile intelligence and technology platforms.

As a leading technology company founded in 2007, InMobi has been recognized as a 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 company and as Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Companies.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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