InMobi unit Glance goes Live to lure more users on its lock screen


Senior executives at the unicorn, which is backed by SoftBank Group, believe this is the “next big frontier for content consumption on the internet” after text, images, and long- and short-form videos.

Glance Live “is a very authentic, real and engaging content format for Gen Z to begin with,” Piyush Shah, co-founder of InMobi group and Glance president and chief operating officer, asserted in an interview on Sunday. The move gained pace because of the pandemic, where people were in the digital world but were craving to experience the offline world.

All Live interactions will take place on Glance lock screens or the so-called ‘screen-zero platforms’ that now come pre-installed on new Android smartphones in India for brands such as Xiaomi, including POCO, Samsung, Vivo and Oppo.

Glance achieved 150 million active users in India in the second quarter of 2021, according to Counterpoint Research’s Quarterly Mobile Application Tracker released on 21 September. This was an 8% increase over the previous quarter. “One in every four Indian smartphone users is now active on the Glance platform, which offers an interactive lock screen experience to Android smartphone users,” the research note said.

Glance has 18 content categories, including sports, movies, commerce, gaming, health and education, and is available in eight Indian languages, as well as Bahasa (Indonesia) and Thai (Thailand).

The lock screen has an advantage because “it is a real estate that is with you most of the time in the day”, Shah said. “Our lock screen has a very low opt-out rate,” he claimed.

The three-year-old Glance acquired short video platform Roposo in 2019, bought e-commerce platform Shop101 in June, and launched a joint venture company, Glance Collective, in July with Collective Artists Network to co-create brands with celebrities and top creators.

The startup’s business model comprises three broad areas, including mobile advertising, creator- or influencer-driven commerce, and digital commerce. Glance plans to introduce digital commerce in the “next three months or so”, according to Shah.

The unicorn also makes efficient use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalize and automate content across categories. It has automated about 95% of all content on Glance. The group has 60-70 data scientists, with the number likely to rise to “200-300 in the next 2 to 3 years”, Shah said.

“InMobi through Glance, Roposo and Shop101, is staying on top on shifts in advertising, engagement and commerce. As literally millions of apps vie for limited screen real estate on a consumer’s smartphone, the so-called screen-zero apps or lock-screen apps are the next frontier for marketers and Glance is well-positioned there,” contended Kashyap Kompella, chief executive officer of technology industry analyst firm RPA2AI Research.

Glance, funded by Google and Mithril Capital, has around 1,200 employees, or nearly 48% of all employees in initial public offering-bound InMobi group. However, the marketing cloud and telco cloud (earlier known as TruFactor) segments of InMobi still account for nearly 90% of the group’s revenue.

“Glance is early in its monetization journey and, hence, it is a very small percentage of InMobi group’s total revenue numbers,” Shah said.

That said, is Reliance Industries Ltd mulling an investment of about $300 million in Glance, as media reports suggest? “I would not like to comment on that. It’s just speculation. I think we are all out to make Glance’s ambition big globally and we will, of course, be always looking for the right opportunities to partner,” Shah said.

“I’d say we just raised money in December ($145 million, led by Google and participation from existing investor Mithril Capital). So, there is no real need for new funding,” he said

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