When a brand wants to advertise to telco subscribers, the process can involve many participants. But today mobile marketing platform InMobi took another step toward its vision of a more unified approach, with the announcement that it is buying Sprint’s mobile data and ad company Pinsight Media.
Exclusive data access. As a result of the purchase, InMobi co-founder Abhay Singhal told me, his company will now have the exclusive right to Sprint subscriber data for in-app advertising and for connected TV (CTV)/Over-the-Top TV (OTT), the latter which InMobi is currently field testing. Deal terms were not made public.
Essentially, InMobi now becomes Sprint’s in-app and CTV/OTT ad and data platform.
Although Pinsight also offers mobile web advertising, Singhal said his company was not equipped to handle that inventory.
What this could mean for marketing to telco subscribers. Singhal said this is the first time InMobi will act in this capacity, as the exclusive ad platform and data processor for a telco and, to his knowledge, the first time it has been tried anywhere.
While other telcos like Verizon — and, previously, Sprint — have tried to develop this capability in-house, Singhal said it makes sense for a telco to farm out the need for an efficient mobile platform to target and deliver ads, and to generate insights about subscribers, because of the complexity involved.
“Telcos have had huge aspirations to create large ad units,” he said, “but they didn’t have the skillsets.”
In fact, he noted, InMobi is now in discussions “with about ten” other telcos worldwide to offer a similar service, with none of them involving mobile web ads. In the event deals are signed with others, he said, each telco’s data will remain individually siloed.
Sprint itself is in the process of merging with T-Mobile, and Singhal said it wasn’t yet clear what the arrangement will be for T-Mobile’s subscriber data and ad delivery. The data used by Pinsight is anonymized to a degree, and Sprint handles getting user permission.
Why this matters for marketers. As an external platform for Sprint’s in-app and CTV ads — and potentially for other telcos’ inventory — InMobi can provide a consistent and unified experience for marketers in an otherwise fragmented market.
Singhal also points out that brand marketers rarely know definitively about their users, except for the users’ interaction with the brand. Everything else — what the user did before entering the brand’s store, what she did afterward, and so on — involves matching data sets, often from other providers and often probabilistically.
By contrast, he said, telco subscriber data can provide a more consistent and reliable picture of a brand’s users, because virtually everyone carries their mobile phone everywhere. In that scenario, InMobi could offer a more complete understanding of a brand’s customers and potential customers inside a mobile or Internet service network.
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