Twitter to Acquire Ad Tech Company ZipDial to Boost Emerging Market Growth

Move Helps Social Service Reach More Mobile Users Abroad

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Twitter has made its boldest move yet in its race with Facebook to draw eyeballs in emerging markets.

The social media company agreed to acquire ZipDial, an ad tech and analytics platform based in India. It marks Twitter's first purchase in the country, its largest potential market for growth. Bloomberg reported the sale at $30 million. Both Twitter and ZipDial declined to comment on the price.

ZipDial, a five-year old startup, builds a mobile-ad selling platform hinging on the "missed call" -- a common practice in India and other countries for people to circumvent phone charges. In July, it began partnering with Facebook to run a new ad product using missed calls. The company has run several campaigns for CPG brands reaching consumers on basic smartphones and feature phones.

Valerie Wagoner
Valerie Wagoner

But with Twitter, ZipDial stressed its role will focus on Twitter's product, not its ad sales. "It's not about ads and revenue, it's about growth," Valerie Wagoner, ZipDial's founder and CEO, told Ad Age. "What we bring to Twitter is making Twitter even more accessible, especially for emerging markets."

Twitter is predominantly global: 78% of its regular users come from outside the U.S., but those users bring in less than one-fifth of the U.S. revenue per user. They're also less engaged with the service. Twitter is expanding in markets like India, yet, as in the U.S., it has struggled with maintaining regular users.

ZipDial said its partnership with Facebook will continue, consistent with Twitter's broader strategy to own a larger portion of mobile ad technology worldwide. "Our entire product platform will continue to live on," said Ms. Wagoner. "We'll be integrated into the core Twitter platform sooner over time."

ZipDial will convert into a Twitter office in Bangalore, Twitter's first in India. In November, Twitter opened an office in Hong Kong and is planning one in Jakarta. Twitter also hired Taranjeet Singh, the sales director for BBC Worldwide in South Asia, to lead business in India.