Twitter Acquires Indian ‘Dropped-Call’ Marketing Platform ZipDial

TwitZipTwitter has acquired Indian startup ZipDial, a company that has capitalized on the opportunity to provide consumers in emerging markets a way to connect with friends, family or, in this case, brands, without incurring large call charges.

TechCrunch first reported the deal, and estimated it to be in the $30 million-$40 million range.

For Twitter, which has knowingly struggled with proving new user growth and engagement, the ZipDial acquisition could be part of Twitter’s global growth opportunity plan. The deal is intended to make Twitter “more accessible to people around the world.”

“Over the next several years, billions of people will come online for the first time in countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia,” wrote Christian Oestlien, VP of product, in a blog post. “For many, their first online experience will be on a mobile device – but the cost of data may prevent them from experiencing the true power of the Internet. Twitter, in partnership with ZipDial, can make great content more accessible to everyone.”

The Asia-Pacific region represents serious digital development opportunities to Twitter. EMarketer has reported digital ad spend could reach $47 billion in the region this year. Digital advertising company AdKnowledge cited India as a key growth pocket for its platform, second only to Indonesia in growing smartphone penetration, according to an article in The Economic Times.

ZipDial was founded in 2010 by American entrepreneur Valerie Wagoner and claims access to 60 million users. ZipDial basically lets brands use offline calls to action using coupons and “gratification” programs to drive mobile engagement.

Because mobile data is hard to come by in emerging markets (ZipDial cited one data point that users in India consume, on average, only 4.5% the amount of data consumed by US consumers), a service like ZipDial presents a “culturally attuned” means for mobile marketing.

Beiersdorf, for instance, tapped ZipDial to promote its Nivea products. A user could dial a telephone number provided in a print or TV ad, hang up and upon an app download the brand would essentially dial back or text the user with related product info, a celebrity message, contest promotion or a fun news tidbit. In other words, remarketing based on “intentional” call abandonment.

“By enabling consumers to bypass charges to call or initiate contact themselves – a major hurdle in some markets – it opens the doors for brands to connect with them when it otherwise might not happen,” hypothesized Jennifer Wise, mobile marketing analyst for Forrester Research. “It lets marketers reach out to a consumer who has already signaled interest and intent.”

Although it’s a fairly new phenomena stateside where Internet connectivity and mobile bandwidth are less of an issue, Wise noted a service such as ZipDial’s could feasibly act as a “gateway” for relevant brands to “piggyback on the communication, messages or content shared through sponsorships or advertising to get in front of new consumers.”

Since 2013, Twitter has bought about 13 companies all dabbling in mobile marketing in some capacity, including the notable mobile ad exchange MoPub and mobile retargeting platform TapCommerce.


Correction: Beiersdorf AG is the owner of Nivea. An earlier version of the story misidentified the owner.

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