InMobi and Rubicon Project Unveil New Exchange for Mobile Native Ads

Tries to inch in on Facebook and Twitter’s turf

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InMobi and Rubicon Project have teamed up to build a new mobile advertising exchange that lets marketers buy and sell native ads across mobile sites and apps.

The new InMobi Exchange is billed as a hub where advertisers can buy customized mobile ads that fit within specific news and gaming sites and apps. Per the companies, the exchange will reach 759 million active users and 30,000 apps.

This network includes Tango and NBC and ABC mobile properties. According to InMobi, the bulk of the company’s business is with Publicis Groupe in addition to Omnicom and WPP.

The new exchange is part of a bigger pitch from InMobi to sell marketers on native ads the past year. InMobi launched its own native ad platform a few months ago and is now layering programmatic buying on top of it. The idea behind the new platform is that marketers can buy native, banner and interstitial ads in one place.

"We fundamentally believe that banners don’t have a long life anymore," InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari said.

With more eyeballs moving toward mobile for reading news and accessing entertainment content, InMobi’s new platform certainly supports the notion that many big publishers are nixing mobile banners. InMobi claims that mobile ads deliver six times greater conversions than traditional banners.

At the same time, Facebook and Twitter, as illustrated in recent megadeals with Omnicom and Publicis Groupe, have an upper hand in native mobile advertising. Scale in native advertising remains an issue, though, which the new ad exchange hopes to address.

"If you look at the attention that Facebook got to mobile, they made mobile advertising more important for the market, and then Facebook is able to provide access to scale, but only to the Facebook audience. I really looked at this as more for the market," said Frank Addante, CEO of Rubicon Project.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.