CVL Srinivas, WPP India Country Manager, Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO of InMobi Group and Abhay Singhal, Co-founder of InMobi Group talk about their strategic partnership to help marketers fast-track solutions in the mobile-first world
Last week, media and advertising giant WPP and India’s first unicorn, mobile marketing and advertising specialist InMobi Group, announced a long-term strategic partnership that will leverage the expertise of InMobi and WPP agencies, including GroupM and Kantar, to help marketers fast-track solutions in a mobile-first world.
Though GroupM and InMobi have been working very closely together for almost 8-9 years, not only in India but also in other markets, the partnership conversation apparently started at the WPP Stream at Jaipur in February this year. CVL Srinivas, WPP Country Manager for India, says, “This partnership with InMobi is going to help us fast-track the process of providing cutting edge, holistic solutions to our clients. In one shot, it helps integrate the various offerings we have seamlessly, so we all operate in a more connected kind of world. The second thing this partnership does for us is, co-creation. We are actually going to create a lot of solutions jointly for clients. It could be products in data, research, measurement, content, media - any of those areas. Thirdly, it helps drive accountability in the market. Spends on digital have been growing over the years. Today, about 16%-17% of the total AdEx is just mobile spends. We’ll see that number going up drastically in the next few years. By coming together, we will help create the right structure in the market, and help shape the market, so to speak, when the floodgates really open up. I am very excited with the partnership because I see a huge rub off on to the larger WPP ecosystem in terms of partnering with a company that’s ‘mobile first’ in a market that’s ‘mobile first’ - actually a world class mobile marketing company built out of India. When two partners complement each other, on the one hand, and there is a meeting of minds in terms of some of the larger goals, I think it’s a great win-win.”
On the already strong mobile capability within GroupM and where InMobi is going to come in, Srinivas says, “We only see it getting enriched with this partnership, because we have the platforms that InMobi has built and the kind of data and insights that they are able to generate. We see that marrying with our systems and creating a lot more value for clients. We are going to be working together to co-create value for clients. In a way, we are trying to build end-toend marketing solutions for clients.”
POTENTIAL TO SHAPE THE MARKET “Shaping the market - that’s where the partnership construct actually even begins,” states Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO of InMobi Group. “We have always understood each other’s capabilities. By coming together, we are essentially saying that there is a potential to shape the market, as it goes from 16% digital media spends up to 50%. Almost 90% of media consumption is happening on mobile anyway. It requires a very different level of solutions, infrastructure and capabilities to be provided to the market. Today, we have a completely fragmented technology stack, and a completely fragmented data stack. The CMO of today is also the chief data officer. How do you solve this problem? Unless and until we create a very credible, efficient and frictionless world together, the movement of media spends from 16% to 50% over the next five years is not going to happen. India is poised for that change that has to happen. This partnership is in anticipation of accelerating that growth. It is a game-changing partnership for us as a company as well as for the advertising and marketing ecosystem. We are very excited about it, as the potential is massive.”
Abhay Singhal, Co-founder of InMobi Group and CEO of InMobi Marketing Cloud, says one of the things they are jointly going to work on is creation of new standards of measurement, and new currency that advertisers can trust from the advertising perspective. “Fundamentally, what both WPP and InMobi grapple with is how do we increase the confidence of CMOs in any advertising medium, because in the absence of that confidence, they end up going back to what they are comfortable with, but their consumers are no longer on those services. CMOs are very confused at this point in time. So, if as two entities we are able to earn their confidence by putting standards, combined products, our common experiences together, that will probably be our biggest investment,” Singhal explains. He also cites the digital vernacular capability of InMobi’s Glance platform as a significant strength of the partnership as CMOs need to understand vernacular at its core ability if they have to reach India at the mass level. “Most digital platforms are built for the English market. If advertisers have to reach India at mass, they need to understand vernacular as their core ability. Which other market in the world is as language diverse as India? This is one big capability that we hope to bring to the partnership. The next 5-7 years in India are going to be shaped by companies and products and solutions that are vernacular aware in terms of different languages in the country.”
OPERATING TEAM ON THE GROUND An operating team is already in place, comprising senior people from GroupM and Kantar and all three InMobi Group companies, working to stitch the partnership together. While the teams could be sitting together too in some time, there is no talk as yet of appointing a leader to oversee joint operations.
“Both organizations are pretty well established in terms of internal structures. We have just managed to build the right linkages, so that on one hand, we are not creating additional hierarchies or bureaucracy in the system, and at the same time everything is close through the natural pipes, so to speak. Senior people are ensuring that we are on track, and that we remain client-centric.”
According to a joint statement issued by the companies, WPP will provide in-depth expertise and a creative approach through four pillars - content, media, data and research. WPP’s GroupM will provide data-driven marketing and media planning with end-to-end audience insights integration and an engagement approach for in-app mobile content marketing. This partnership will also see Kantar’s research insights, including recommendations that combine delivery, engagement and impact measures through media. The collaboration between WPP and InMobi will enable brands to create personalized consumer experiences at scale, and empower marketers to translate up-to-the-moment insights into timely marketing action. The InMobi Group – comprising InMobi Marketing Cloud, TruFactor - a secure data platform for businesses, and Glance – an AI-powered ‘screen zero’ content platform - will provide mobile-first expertise across marketing software and media, data and consumer platforms. As a result of this partnership, brands can gain insights on and access to 200+ million mobile users in India through the InMobi Marketing Cloud, that includes mobile research platform Pulse and InMobi DSP, an in-app programmatic buying platform. Incidentally, Glance, which has 36 million daily active users, has just raised $45 million from Mithril Capital – the investment firm founded by legendary investor Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan.
“In one shot, this partnership helps integrate the various offerings we have seamlessly, so we all operate in a more connected kind of world. Another thing this partnership does for us is cocreation. We are actually going to create a lot of solutions jointly for clients. It could be products in data, research, measurement, content, media - any of those areas.”
CVL SRINIVAS Country Manager, WPP India
“Unless we create a very credible, efficient and frictionless world together, the movement of media spends from 16% to 50% over the next five years is not going to happen. India is poised for that change that has to happen. This partnership is in anticipation of accelerating that growth. It is a game-changing partnership for us as a company as well as for the advertising and marketing ecosystem.”
NAVEEN TEWARI Founder & CEO, InMobi Group
“Fundamentally, what both WPP and InMobi grapple with is, how do we increase the confidence of CMOs in any advertising medium. CMOs are very confused at this point in time. If we are able to earn their confidence by putting standards, combined products, our common experiences together, that will probably be our biggest investment.”
ABHAY SINGHAL Co-founder, InMobi Group & CEO of InMobi Marketing Cloud