Facebook is Reaching Invisible Consumers in India with Zipdial

Facebook’s Reaching Invisible Consumers in India with ZipdialZipdial, an analytics startup in India, believes that it will be able to solve two problems that face  developing markets as well as the media giants like Facebook and Google who want to take advantage of them; how to reach their poorest inhabitants and  then track them down.

Here’s an interesting fact about Facebook in India; while there are over 100 million active users, Facebook knows very little about them because very few use desktop computers and nearly 70% use feature phones (i.e. dumb phones) to access the site. In other words, “cookies” and tracking tactics that work in other countries are virtually worthless there.

Valerie Wagoner, the CEO of Zipdial, refers to these people as “invisible”, adding that “they’re transacting in cash, and they’ve never been online. How do you build user affinity and brand loyalty?”

It’s a darn good question, to be sure, and Zipdial believes the answer is the “missed call” (To see that answer, check out AdAge’s coverage here).

Using their “missed call” strategy, Zipdial  is the bridge that Facebook and others need between consumer and analytics.

If you’re unsure of the value of such a service, think about this; a recent campaign run by Zipdial for Disney received more than 2 million consumer engagements.  Or how about this; During three separate campaigns with Zipdial, L’Oreal  company Garnier Men  saw a 250% increase in e-commerce.

The biggest factor in India is simply that over 80% of the mobile phones used there are still feature phones. That’s expected to change in the next year or two as cheaper phones are introduced that more Indians can afford.

Interestingly, in recent tests with Facebook Zipdial  found that people using Facebook’s wildly popular WhatsApp  messaging app on their feature phones used the “missed call” feature much more than people who owned Android phones. They believe it’s because WhatsApp  is a popular way for users in India to avoid charges for texting.

Still, Wagoner  is already working to position Zipdial  as more of an analytics platform so that, when smartphones do inevitably take over, they aren’t left at the side of the road.  That being said, she doesn’t believe that the “missed call” method is going anywhere anytime soon.

“Even if you have a smartphone, what’s the easiest way to respond to a print ad?” she asked. “Dial a number.”

With the population of India dialing numbers at an immense rate, Zipdial should remain in good shape for the foreseeable future.

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