Twitter in talks to buy ZipDial?

Twitter in talks to buy ZipDial?

Author | Abhinn Shreshtha | Wednesday, Jan 14,2015 8:09 AM

Twitter in talks to buy ZipDial?

Media reports indicate that Twitter is in talks with Bangalore-based ZipDial for a possible acquisition.

As reported by TechCrunch, which quotes multiple sources, the deal might be in the vicinity of $30 million-$40 million. However, there is still no clarity on whether the deal has actually been completed or close to completion as TechCrunch says another source claims that there is one more company, apart from Twitter, looking at ZipDial too.

We have written to both companies though a statement had not been received at the time of publishing of the article.

If the reports are true then this will be Twitter’s first acquisition of an India-based company. ZipDial has worked with both Facebook and Twitter in the past. In July, Facebook partnered with ZipDial to launch a Missed Call ad format. Once a user clicks on the ad on Facebook, a number is dialled which triggers the ZipDial experience and continues engagement with the user off Facebook via SMS and voice. This experience then drives online-to-offline engagement that encourages the user to perform an action such as purchasing a product, watching a television show, etc.

Facebook partners with ZipDial to launch new 'Missed Call' ad format

In 2013, it had partnered with Twitter to allow SRK and Amitabh Bachchan fans to keep track of their tweets through SMS.

ZipDial was founded by Valerie R. Wagoner, Amiya Pathak and Sanjay Swamy in 2009. It has turned the humble missed call into a huge marketing opportunity by allowing brands to connect with users in a variety of innovative formats. In an interview earlier last year,  Valerie had informed us that the service was available in ZipDial is already present in three markets- India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and were planning a launch in South Africa, Philippines and Indonesia in the coming months.

Facebook-Zipdial's 'Missed Call' format is witnessing success: Valerie R Wagoner

What this acquisition means for Twitter

In its Q3 2014 filing, Twitter stated that it had seen $175 million in losses though Q3 revenue was posted at $361 million, up 114 per cent YoY. Average Monthly Active Users (MAUs) were up 23 per cent YoY. However, the worrying aspect was that engagement had dropped nearly 7 per cent and though Twitter CFO, Anthony Noto attributed this to changes being made on the platform, it is something that advertisers tend to question, especially if the trend continues.

Twitter Q3'14 results show $175 million loss as user base grows by 23 per cent

If Twitter does buy ZipDial, it will provide it with a great way to hook customers even when they are not on Twitter or, for that matter, even if they don’t have a Twitter account. And this fits Twitter’s India strategy, which has been to increase awareness about itself and increase the user base. Of course, the benefits are not limited to just India itself.

An eMarketer study suggested that Twitter’s share of the global mobile ad revenue pie will grow from 2.4% in 2013 to 2.8% in 2014. According to another eMarketer report, Twitter currently lags behind the likes of Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Baidu in terms of net global digital ad revenue with just 0.84 per cent of the share. This is way behind Facebook at 7.75 per cent or even Yahoo at 2.36 per cent.

On the advertising side, there is a huge opportunity for Twitter to work with brands on campaigns revolving around the idea of the missed call. As HUL’s Kaan Khajura Tesan proved, a smart campaign can work wonders. In fact, The Economist, in an article says that one estimate puts the number of mobile subscribers preferring the missed call to a call as 65% of India’s 860 million mobile subscribers!

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