For those of you who haven‘t heard of DialMedia, it must be said that it‘s one of those rare South African apps that is also a business. And I must say that I like their app and offering, even though I will never use it.
The DialMedia app is simple: you download and install, and every time you make a call, you hear an advert just before you connect. In doing so, you earn money, in the form of airtime on your mobile balance (TopUp/PrePaid). In other words, every time you hear an ad, you get paid. And they‘ve patented it, too.
If someone doesn‘t want to listen to an advert, they press #, but then don‘t earn anything. Also, any number dialed under 10 digits will not be served an ad, this prevents the obvious situation of not wanting to hear marketing messages whilst calling the fire brigade, etc. Adverts can also include endings like: “œPress 3 to request a call-back for a quote“ and so on.

What‘s key is that it works mainly on smartphones, and so you are talking to a rather untapped, yet lucrative market: young and upcoming employed people, those who have smartphones but still use PrePaid and not a contract. For the many people reading this article right now and saying: “œWhy would I want that? This business will never work!“, the fact is that there are a great number of people who really do want this. So, if you don‘t want it, don‘t install it. Simple.

I spoke with Chregan O’Flynn, who developed DialMedia, to find out more about the app and business. Apparently, they now have over 15,000 happy users who all listen to ads every single call they make. This is already a large following of customers.
The only seemingly valid point people had against the app, which was fervently discussed on MyBroadBand, is that to play the ad, your smartphone has to download the audio file for it, costing you money. O‘Flynn explains that if you have a BlackBerry, you pay nothing as the app integrates with BIS, and with other phones you are downloading, but only 40-50KB, whereas loading IOL‘s website for example hits you with 250-350KB. In other words, the download cost is negligible.
DialMedia has received investment from the South African IT industry, and has now grown to a team of 6, based in Cape Town. As I said above, I simply love it when an app also has a business behind it, and we look with interest to see where they can scale the idea to.
DialMedia is available to download for BlackBerry, Android and iOS
About the author: Jess Green is a digital entrepreneur, passionate about tech, web and mobile. Follow him on Twitter on @jessello.