Bengaluru-based unicorn InMobi positions itself as the largest independent mobile advertising platform outside of Facebook and Google. With a reach of over 1.5 billion mobile users in India, China, the US and elsewhere, InMobi has built up expertise in delivering mobile video ads.
“We have got a lot of discussions going on how Microsoft will leverage a lot of InMobi capability,” Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari told ET. “We have begun those conversations (on Bing), there is nothing too concrete at this stage.” Microsoft, headed by India-born CEO Satya Nadella, is looking to revive Bing, which it says powers a third of the desktop searches in the US, to take on dominant rival Google.
If InMobi is able to power Bing to significantly greater adoption, Microsoft will be able to get a bigger cut of the market that is Google’s main source of revenue.
In December, Microsoft introduced new features in Bing driven by Artificial Intelligence, which includes the better use of object recognition, similar to Google Lens. It previously added fact checks to search results in its attempt to curb fake news.
According to StatCounter Global Stats, an open source platform, Bing had a 3.24% share of the global search engine market in May 2018, while Google had a 90.14% share. Since its launch in 2009, Bing has looked at partners such as Yahoo to deliver ads. It is the default search engine for Windows 10, Cortana and Office, used by millions of enterprises globally. Cortana is Microsoft’s voice assistant.
“Every one of their customers, while they would use the software they would (also) use it to buy media,” said InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari, without committing on the Bing partnership.
“Advertising share would go up for us disproportionately high as this partnership gets rolled out across the globe. That’s what will change the playbook for us disproportionately for sure.” On Tuesday, Microsoft said it will sell InMobi’s marketing automation platform to its enterprise customers that will allow clients to buy digital and mobile advertising on the same platform. InMobi in turn will shift its entire applications from a private cloud to Microsoft’s Azure cloud and leverage its scale globally.
“The platform that inMobi has built over the last decade focussing on mobile and focusing on advertising and marketing… is a deep niche,” Maheshwari said.