InMobi Group chief executive Naveen Tewari expects the company's mobile lockscreen content platform Glance to touch a billion users over the next two-three years from 200 million users now.
"Our consumer part of the business has multiple large consumer properties. Glance is among one of the most differentiated lockscreen platforms, which is so unique that we are yet to see a second player in that space" Tewari said in an episode of CNN-News18's Bits to Billions.
Started in 2019, Glance raised $200 million from Jio Platforms in February 2022 to accelerate its global expansion. It also counts technology giant Google and Silicon Valley-based venture fund Mithril Capital among its investors and entered the unicorn club (companies with more than $1 billion valuation) in December 2020. The platform claims to have a presence on about 400 million devices across Asia.
Glance has benefited from taking a differentiated approach to distribution, wherein it partners with device makers such as like Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung, Oppo, Realme, and Vivo to bake the lockscreen platform directly into the mobile operating system. One cannot install the lockscreen platform on existing smartphones and can access it only by purchasing Glance-enabled ones.
This has, however, also led to privacy concerns since one cannot uninstall the platform from their smartphones, though users have the option to disable it. In an earlier interview to Moneycontrol, Tewari had assured that the company would "follow the highest quality of privacy laws that are there to be followed"
The platform also forayed into smart televisions in April 2022 and hopes to be available on around 30 percent of all smart televisions in the country.
Glance's live commerce plans
During the show, Tewari said the company plans to expand its creator-led live commerce platform Roposo and its gaming platform globally.
Glance on March 25 acquired Bengaluru-based Gambit Sports to strengthen its gaming offerings. This acquisition was expected to enable the company to bring non-fungible token (NFT)-based live gaming experiences to GenZ users on its platform.
At the time, the company said its lockscreen gaming platform had over 45 million monthly active users across Asia, of which 70 percent were in the 18 to 34 age group and more than 40 percent of the users were female.
For live commerce, InMobi Group co-founder Piyush Shah, who was on the show with Tewari, said they were clear when they acquired Roposo in late 2019 that "the world of new content is going to be more creator-led video content"
"We felt classical short videos are very passive for the user in terms of consumption. So, how do we make this experience more active for users? How do you make them feel more involved in the experience with the creator? This is why we decided to do more live-first creator commerce" Shah said.
Shah said they made sure to combine entertainment and commerce in Glance's live commerce offerings to differentiate it from a growing number of rivals eyeing this space. For instance, combining a beauty masterclass and educating the user about how to apply mascara differently, and then inspiring them to buy that product is more important than just selling the product, he said.
"I think the big thing in live commerce is just an ability to make sure you're getting the user hooked onto a live stream, and loving the whole experience. You can't just be selling products" he said.
"Live commerce is actually live entertainment and commerce happens," Tewari said.
In terms of profitability, Tewari said the company always had a "very strong line of sight to profitability" at the group level. However, he expects Glance to take "a little bit of time" of about 18-24 months to achieve profitability
"As of right now, Glance is actually active and at scale in India and in Southeast Asia and in those markets, we are already starting to see monetization happen. In just these markets, we are probably less than 12 months away from breaking even" Tewari said.
Synergy between content and ads
Building these consumer businesses is crucial for InMobi as it aims to become one of the largest independent advertising platforms
"Our broader strategy is to have very formidable owned and operated global consumer platforms, combine that with a very large advertising platform, and both support each other" Tewari said.
"The consumer properties, while being very differentiated, gain a lot from the advertising potential and the power of InMobi's ads business and therefore monetize better and scale faster. Similarly, the advertising business is not just dependent on third party consumer access, but actually has its own unique consumer access in its own environment that it controls. So therefore, it provides a differentiated value to the advertiser" he said.Disclaimer: MoneyControl is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.