Interviews

MarTech Interview with Abhay Singhal, Co-founder, InMobi and CEO of InMobi Advertising Platform

Get access to the inception, challenges, and triumphs that shaped InMobi's success.
InMobi

1. Kindly brief us about yourself and your journey as Co-founder, InMobi and CEO of InMobi Advertising Platform.
I come from a humble background in a small northern Indian town. Raised in a middle-class family where conventional and reliable jobs in banking were the norm, I was driven by an unwavering desire to chart a different course. My journey as a two-time entrepreneur began at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, where fate brought me together with my future co-founders.
The dream of InMobi began with a dinner. Naveen and I, like many other young professionals were catching up over dinner. A few drinks and emphatic discussions later, we decided to embark on an exhilarating adventure of establishing an innovative advertising venture. At critical moments Amit Gupta, Mohit Saxena, and Piyush Shah joined us.
We worked relentlessly, engaging in a constant cycle of idea generation, pitch refinement, feedback absorption, and returning to the drawing board. Entrepreneurship is a thrilling journey filled with unexpected challenges, and we navigated its tumultuous waters with unwavering determination and belief in our big idea… and built India’s first unicorn.
I stand today with immense pride as I witness the incredible transformation of InMobi. Starting as a modest startup, it has grown into a global powerhouse, leaving its footprint on billions of devices across the world. Yet, our quest for innovation and progress continues unabated, and I eagerly await the exciting future that lies ahead as InMobi continues to evolve.

2. Can you tell us about the inception of InMobi and the vision behind its establishment?
We weren’t always called InMobi. Back when we started out in 2007, we were mKhoj and we had set out to build an SMS-based search and monetization venture. Picture this: a bunch of entrepreneurs who loved to shop determined to uncover the secret source of all amazing deals. It seemed like a natural fit. While our passion, tireless efforts, and ability to attract capital were unquestionable, mKhoj didn’t quite soar to the heights we had imagined. But hey, who said entrepreneurship was all smooth sailing? We took this as an opportunity to pivot.
We went back to our drawing boards and came up with a more lucrative and even more ambitious plan — revolutionize the world of mobile advertizing. When we took our idea to Silicon Valley we faced 20 rejections before finally making an impression on Ram Sriram, one of the first investors of Google. Our arrival in Silicon Valley was a huge step in our global expansion. We currently are spread across 14 offices globally. In 2019, we launched Glance, the world’s first lock screen experience. This brand too became a unicorn in 2020.
In short, our journey from mKhoj to InMobi has been nothing short of a wild, exhilarating ride filled with twists, turns, and moments of pure innovation.

3. AI often relies on data to make accurate predictions and decisions. How does InMobi ensure data quality, privacy, and compliance when leveraging AI in advertising?
InMobi prioritizes user privacy and data protection, and our advertising and addressability solutions adhere to privacy regulations and best practices. This ensures that user data is handled responsibly and in compliance with applicable laws.
We’ve established a comprehensive framework that includes stringent data governance, transparent data collection practices, and obtaining explicit user consent. We strictly adhere to global data privacy regulations and ethical AI practices are at the core of our algorithms. We provide users with control over their data, empowering them to make informed choices.

4. With the continuous evolution of AI technologies, how does InMobi stay updated and ensure that its AI capabilities remain at the forefront of the industry?
InMobi has a team of leaders dedicated to incorporating AI into InMobi’s technology, at the helm, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence, Ian Anderson, and Chief Technology Officer, Inder Singh Pall, who have deep knowledge and experience in AI. Further, InMobi has an AI working group dedicated to sharing insights, ideas, trends, and working sessions to fine tune current and future offerings. InMobi also has incorporated the provision for any staffer to deepen their understanding and use of AI for their job function.

Salesmark Global

5. Personalization is crucial in today’s advertising landscape. How does AI enable InMobi to deliver more personalized and relevant ad experiences to consumers?
InMobi’s ID graph incorporates AI into the creation and scale of audiences to ensure that brands can reach the most relevant consumers.
AI has proven that there are limitless possibilities with the ads we’re able to serve consumers. By nature, AI can generate large quantities of beautiful creatives in seconds. InMobi is thoughtfully encouraging companies to leverage AI for their creative production process while focusing the bulk of their work on telling stories, which after all is the defining characteristic of great advertising.

  • AI has produced remarkable creatives for InMobi, ones that rival the ones humans are generating.
  • We have also seen higher completion rates with AI-produced ads in A/B testing.
  • InMobi’s ID graph and AI-enhanced creatives are a powerful duo in delivering more personalized and engaging ads to consumers.
  • AI’s ad production is not only more cost efficient, but more effective.

6. While AI offers significant advantages, some might have concerns about its potential drawbacks or biases. How does InMobi address these issues and maintain transparency and fairness in AI-driven advertising?
There is a sense of caution from some marketers regarding the legalities/ethics of some aspects of generative AI, specifically image generation. AI is not new, but we are at the cusp of exploring its infinite potential.
AI was the topic of the moment at Cannes 2023. There are executives across advertising that are excited by its potential, but like all of us, are still learning more about the drawbacks and limitations of the tool. Until we have more experience with AI and craft rules around its use, there will be hesitancy around certain topics like copyright of generated images.
InMobi’s AI experts, legal team, and AI working group are keeping themselves abreast of new regulations to handle specific generative AI use cases to employ the tool ethically and ensure the company is holding itself to the highest standard. We are committed to maintaining a transparent and fair environment in AI-driven advertising.

7. The advertising industry is highly dynamic and competitive. How does AI help InMobi adapt to changes in consumer behavior and market trends in real-time?
Generative AI is a necessity, not a luxury for marketers. AI’s advantage is the way it makes our roles more efficient. AI has the potential to enhance the quality of our work and allow us to connect with consumers more meaningfully than before.
Consumer behavior is changing faster than ever. AI helps us keep up with that pace in generating creatives and run it through test to understand their behavior, pivot, and reach them more efficiently than ever before.

8. Looking into the future, what are some of the emerging trends or technologies that you believe will shape the advertising and tech industries, and how is InMobi preparing to embrace those changes?
The rise of surfaces and on-device computing will change technology as we know it. Smart phones are only just beginning to be truly smart. This next stage of mobile innovation will empower publishers and developers to provide an unprecedented level of customizable, frictionless surface experience for consumers that feels more like TV, much like what InMobi’s sister company, Glance has accomplished.
Glance runs creatives on devices directly and serves them to consumers on their lockscreens without having to connect to servers at all. It’s a very interesting play and an exciting area that InMobi is investing a lot of time in.

9. As a leader in the company, what core values do you believe have contributed to InMobi’s success, and how do you ensure that these values are upheld throughout the organization
An entreprenurial mindset is a significant core value that we look for in each and every employee that joins InMobi and is a part of our roots as a company founded by entrepreneurs in India. Tech is a challenging environment and innovation is key to differentiation. However, entrepreneurism cannot stand without collaboration, as I firmly believe that leaders learn from one another while in a shared space.

10. Can you share your personal leadership philosophy and how it has influenced the growth and culture of InMobi?
I’m a huge advocate of face-to-face interaction, collaboration, and the power it brings to teams, especially when fine-tuning business evolution and mentoring future leaders. Great ideas and a truly exceptional level of creativity and innovation can only happen when people are together, shoulder-to-shoulder, in a shared act of trust. Collaboration has been key to InMobi’s growth and is a core tenet of the company culture, which enhances innovation and productivity tenfold.

11. Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals looking to make a positive impact through technology and innovation?
The beginning of anything requires a leap of faith, especially as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride you live every day. Despite challenges you may face, you must believe in your good idea, be willing to take risks, take feedback with grace, and trust in delayed gratification.

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Abhay Singhal, Co-founder, InMobi and CEO of InMobi Advertising Platform

Abhay Singhal is a seasoned entrepreneur and Co-Founder with a proven track record of creating innovative and profitable businesses in the marketing and advertising technology industry. LinkedIn.
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