Foreign-Built Mobile Ad Network Takes Aim at AdMob and iAd in U.S.

InMobi announced the launch of its U.S. operations this morning, as the three-year-old mobile ad network attempts to build on successes in Asia, Africa, and Europe. And the company isn’t shying away from taking on Google’s AdMob and Apple’s iAd.

Anne Frisbie, InMobi’s VP and managing director, North America, argued the U.S. mobile advertising marketplace going forward will be too full of advertisers to include just a pair of powerhouses. Other formidable mobile ad networks include Millennial Media, Yahoo and Jumptap.

“Both Google and Apple will be very big players in the mobile space,” Frisbie said. “What we believe is that this is a $100 billion market opportunity…It’s a bigger revolution in digital media than the PC Web itself.”

The company has opened an office in San Mateo, CA, she said, while hiring 10 staffers. During what she described as a soft launch, Frisbie said the firm has let its global advertising clients with American interests test its platform for the last few months. In the meantime, she said InMobi’s current U.S.-based publisher relationships – generating approximately 2 billion monthly impressions – are offshoots of partnerships born in international markets.

InMobi has had an intriguing global run so far. Since its founding in Bangalore, India in 2007, the company says it has sold mobile inventory to prominent brands with a network that currently holds 10 billion monthly impressions in Asia, 2.3 billion in Africa (a 2008 expansion), and 1.6 in Europe (launched in 2009). Brands include Reebok, Quaker, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and Barclays.

Frisbie wouldn’t disclose how much of that inventory is regularly being sold to advertisers. Nor would she say if new clients have come aboard due to the American venture. “Our strength is that we are a broad-based platform that has very high sell rates in general,” she said. “We work on feature films, mobile Web, app inventory, smartphone inventory…whether it’s rich media or not rich media.”

The global network, Frisbie said, includes approximately 179 million unique viewers a month. With offices in London, Singapore, Tokyo, and Mumbai, India, she said that the privately owned inMobi has achieved an operating profit.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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