Mobvista talks mobile ads in 2019, IPO and China’s mobile game market – an interview with Clement Cao

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising. December 17, 2018

In light of Mobvista, the mobile advertising company, announcing its initial public offering (IPO) last week, we’ve spoken with Clement Cao, co-founder, executive director and president of the company about its vision for the future.

1. What are Mobvista‘s plans for the future once the IPO is complete?

There are four key areas for Mobvista as we look forward, all of them linked both to increasing our presence in key markets, and supporting the technologies which we believe will put us ahead of the industry.

Firstly, and most important, is to continue to invest in big data and AI technologies. We already have put a significant amount of R&D into these areas, and we believe its an area of strength for us.

Secondly, we plan to continue to improve our mobile advertising and mobile analytics platforms – especially the vertical integration between the two.

Thirdly, we have what we call our “Global” strategy. This is about growing our global footprint at the same time as enhancing our local services and expertise. Too often, companies scale quickly but lose local market experience as a result. We absolutely see local expertise and experience as key to our growth.

Finally, we will continue to look for strategic investments and acquisitions that expand the company’s ecosystem and deliver benefits for our customers, just as our acquisitions of NativeX and GameAnalytics have done.

2. Why launch an IPO now?

The global mobile advertising industry continues to grow rapidly, but as well as overall growth, there is a particular demand for highly automated and more targeted advertising services. It’s predicted that the value of the programmatic advertising market will increase to $69 billion in 2022.

If we want to be one of the leaders in mobile programmatic, then we need to accelerate the development of those AI and big data technologies I’ve already mentioned. So the investment we will raise through the IPO will help us to develop those technologies and in turn provide better services to global developers.

3. What are the market conditions for games companies in China right now?

Obviously, China has an incredibly healthy domestic market for mobile and PC games – that’s why it has overtaken the US to become the world’s biggest games market by revenue. That domestic success has created some huge companies, such as Tencent and IGG. These and other Chinese gaming giants are increasingly their resources towards mature markets like the U.S, launching games like Honour of Kings and Lords Mobile that have millions of players in Asia.

On the other side, there is a clear opportunity for games companies to enter the Chinese market, as the demand for games shows no sign of slowing down. However, there are more challenges when launching in China, which means it’s important to work with local publishers and experts. Not only are regulations different, but the way apps are marketed in China is quite unique.  

4. Have the regulations from the Government changed how mobile games are being marketed in China?

Definitely – and we can see accelerated market consolidation as a result. With the restricted regulations currently in place, high-quality titles from top studios and publishers have a better chance to survive and thrive as they already have the market share and marketing muscle to adapt to changes. Plus, established developers like Tencent and Netease have already worked on building in-game systems that meet with the regulatory requirements around things such as age-restricted content and gambling-style IAP.

5. What are your views on the growing issue of app fraud? Is the industry doing enough?

It obviously continues to be an issue, and we’ve seen fraud becoming ever-more complex as the potential revenues from fraud increase. Ultimately, the best way the industry can fight against app fraud is by investing in better technology to identify and counter the techniques being used.

6. What is the biggest opportunity for Mobvista – Chinese app companies going global, or app companies looking to reach the Chinese market?

As a Chinese company that’s gone global ourselves, we see both as equally big opportunities. And global app companies looking to reach markets outside of their home countries is also another opportunity for us. We already work with app companies and brands in almost every market, so app marketing is naturally a global business; this goes back to our ‘Global’ strategy that I previously mentioned.

7. Where do you think the mobile ad market headed in 2019?

I think as we saw already in 2018, in 2019 video advertising will be the most sought-after format for advertisers. With AI technologies maturing, its application in mobile advertising will grow as programmatic video becomes a bigger part of the mobile advertising mix.

8. What will Mobvista‘s role/part be in it?

I think that first and foremost we want to be seen as one of the companies contributing to the advancement of advertising technology. That’s why we are so committed to continuing our R&D work in AI. Currently, half of our global headcount is involved in our R&D efforts in some way.

It would also be nice for Mobvista to be recognised as an example of the talent and expertise inside China that we are seeing more and more on the global stage.