Mobile ad giant InMobi is going from macro to micro when it comes to tracking consumer use across the thriving mobile spectrum.
Next month, InMobi will launch “appographic targeting,” a tool that will allow developers and publishers to follow consumers using mobile devices with what company executives say is unprecedented accuracy. It is the result of InMobi engineers who spent well over a year rigorously studying 100,000 apps and how consumers interacted with them.
This means, according to InMobi co-founder Amit Gupta, that tracking users as they browse and download apps now enters a personalized phase. Instead of grouping consumers based on demographics using just geotargeting and geofencing algorithms, for example, appographic targeting creates micro-categories based on specific consumer behavior.
Indeed, InMobi is touting appographic targeting as a disruptive, proprietary, audience-targeting feature whose single focus is ascertaining what apps consumers love — and spend money on. While InMobi employs 1,000 workers spread around the globe, over half that number are engineers and performance managers — they’re the ones who worked on the new tracking tool around the clock.
“We feel it’s ready for prime time,” InMobi revenue and operations veep Atul Satija told VentureBeat. Satija formerly ran Google’s mobile division for Japan and Asia.
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Why does this matter? Because publishers now have a clearer roadmap of who they’re following, and targeting, on the shifting topic of ad relevancy. InMobi executives told VentureBeat that appographic targeting was quietly rolled out in July with a select group of advertising partners, and the results were spectacular.
Its power, if Gupta and Satija are to be believed, is staggering. And this is good news for brands and advertisers.
“So we know if you eat health food and like to go hiking in Utah four times a year. We know this from the statistical algorithm,” Gupta said.
As part of their research for appographic targeting, InMobi’s engineers and data scientists dissected 10,000 of the most popular apps and games and then “defined” 250 concepts that accurately describe apps in the entertainment, travel, social, and commerce realms.
Gupta and Satija said the results, so far, are promising. They claim that advertisers are seeing, at minimum, 50 percent improvement rates in campaigns on the subject of app installs. Currently, they have built so-called “appographic profiles” on users of 872 million active unique devices.
InMobi initially started out building an SMS chat platform in Bangalore, India, but switched gears to focus on the growing mobile ad space. Since launching in late 2006, InMobi has raised a staggering $217 million in venture funding, $200 million of that in 2011 by SoftBank alone. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer is also a big investor.
InMobi is anything but traditional. Instead of looking to conquer the U.S. mobile ad market out of the gate when they launched, Gupta and his team focused instead on China and Japan, where their presence is now huge. But so is their presence in the States, with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The U.S. is now its biggest point of revenue. And the company will soon set its sights on Russia and Latin America, where the number of mobile users is skyrocketing.
Unlike some counterparts in InMobi’s space — Opera Mediaworks, for example — both men declined to talk about revenue, but said business is booming. Opera Mediaworks did $120 million in mobile revenue last year, a number expected to double by the end of 2014. InMobi’s revenues are thought to be much higher.
To be sure, it has been an insane ride for the company over the last seven years, as mobile marketing has progressed from boring banner ads, to interstitial ads, to interstitial video ads, and finally to pure native ones. That’s why, according to InMobi, half its team is dedicated to building technology.
Appographic targeting will be officially unveiled November 15, with InMobi opening it up to developers by the end of the year.