- Mobile marketing firm Airship acquired ReplyBuy to add conversational commerce to its customer engagement services for the first time. Airship plans to integrate ReplyBuy’s technology to offer commerce and payments service in more marketing channels, messaging platforms and industry verticals, per a press release.
- Entertainment venues and professional and college sports teams use ReplyBuy to sell event tickets through mobile chats, while other organizations use its platform for fundraising, membership renewals and appointment bookings. The company works with more than 100 brands, per the announcement.
- ReplyBuy's seven-person team will join Airship, including CEO Brandon O'Halloran as general manager of commerce and CTO Anthony Saia as head of commerce engineering, TechCrunch reported. Terms of the acquisition agreement weren't disclosed.
Airship's acquisition of ReplyBuy comes as marketers increasingly seek ways to convert mobile consumers into paying customers. Mobile marketers not only want to reach target audiences, but they also are looking for tangible business outcomes including direct sales. By integrating its platform with ReplyBuy's, Airship aims to provide marketers with a more complete range of services to capture the attention of consumers and lead them to a final sale. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales are going to become more important to a wider variety of brands as restrictions on collecting mobile data interfere with ad targeting, Airship CEO Brett Caine predicted in an interview with TechCrunch.
The acquisition is another sign of consolidation in the mobile marketing industry, especially as the pandemic disrupts businesses with any exposure to live events. ReplyBuy was started in 2011 and entered the sports ticketing market several years later, Sports Business Daily reported. Using its platform, sports teams could send an SMS text message offering tickets to fans who replied the quickest. The immediacy of the response highlighted the power of reaching consumers through messaging.
ReplyBuy later expanded the service with artificial intelligence (AI) technology to handle a broader range of customized tasks, like offering tickets in a request price range, TechCrunch reported in 2016. Unfortunately, the pandemic has led event organizers, including sports leagues, to prohibit fans from attending, eliminating a key service for ReplyBuy. However, its underlying conversational commerce technology has plenty of other applications for Airship's mobile marketer clientele.
The acquisition of ReplyBuy comes more than a year after Airship bought Apptimize, a user experience (UX) testing company, to give clients a single platform for managing digital ad campaigns. With the acquisition, Airship aimed to help marketers compare campaigns using A/B testing methods to measure customer engagement, loyalty and revenue among channels including mobile apps, websites and over-the-top (OTT) services. Before re-branding itself as Airship last year, the company bought European rival Accengage in January to expand its global footprint. Prior acquisitions include SimpleGeo in 2011 and Tello in 2012.