A missed call doesn’t cost a penny, but can fetch pounds worth of data. From politicians such as Modi and Kejriwal to companies like Hindustan Unilever and RedBus, the tech-savvy have cottoned on to the potential of this tool to drive business — and politics.

Ozonetel, a telco grade cloud communications platform, has created a world record by handling data relating to 700 million missed calls in the last nine months to its customers.

It is now targeting a billion missed calls by April. CSN Murthy, Ozonetel’s founder and CEO, says, “It is a unique emerging trend in India in trying to understand return on investment on ads in any medium.”

Missed call marketing is exactly what it sounds like: consumers call back in response to ads targeted at them, but hang up without connecting.

Companies then call them back or send messages with deals, coupons and offers.

More than that, the companies gain valuable information of customer interests, preferences and profiles so that ads can be more precisely targeted. Ozonetel has been handling missed calls for the past four years.

Among others Hindustan Unilever, RedBus, TaxiForSure, Manipal University, and ZipDial have used its services. It operates across 20 verticals.

How does a missed call score over other platforms, especially in an age of social media such as Facebook or Twitter?

“Not everyone in the country is on social media, but most have a mobile phone,” Murthy added. It also feeds into a uniquely Indian trait: of making missed calls, because most callers are on prepaid cards with limited calling plans.

Missed call marketing has been making rapid strides: recently, Twitter acquired missed call marketing platform ZipDial, and last year Facebook partnered with mobile media company VivaConnect. Vikram Raichura, MD, VivaConnect, said it works for both rural and urban consumers.