Political Robo Calls, Too Cheap to be True?

With the election just around the corner and campaign budgets stretched to the limit, many candidates turn to inexpensive and efficient ways to reach the undecided voter, often utilizing automated political phone calls to get their message to the masses. But has this budget-friendly contact method become as ineffective as it is cheap?

Oct 27, 2010, 08:07 ET from GOP Calls

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of automated phone providers has increased significantly in the past decade and with this growing competition has come a corresponding industry-wide drop in prices.  If you type the term "political calling" or "auto calls" in your search engine, you can find a variety of companies offering prices as low as a couple pennies per call for a standard 30-second message.  In the world of automated calling, is there such a thing as paying less for more, or for that matter, paying less for the same?

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If you ask the typical candidate or campaign manager what they're looking for in an automated phone call provider, many will likely say they want all their calls made as cheap and as fast as possible.  Fortunately for these consumers, low price and quick turn-around time are hallmarks of this industry.  Not all robo calls are created equal, however,  according to Chris Kolker, a 24-year veteran of the auto call industry and owner and founder of www.GOPcalls.com.  Regarding the growing number of political phone call providers, Kolker states, "The emergence of the internet in recent years has made it possible for many companies to operate only during the busy election season.  They're here one day and gone the next, leaving behind a trail of unprofessional, poorly conducted automated calls and leaving a bad taste in the mouth of voters."

The automatic phone call industry is unique in that most business store fronts are e-stores, and the candidate rarely communicates with the vendor face-to-face.  In addition, the service that is being provided may be difficult for the customer to track, so quality can easily be an issue.  "With the rapid growth of low-cost providers in the market, there is the potential for a corresponding drop in quality.  On the up side, telephony technology has improved significantly and when calls are broadcast using methods that target and inform voters with legitimate information, the numbers show that auto calls are still quite effective," says Kolker.  An analysis of GOP Calls' historical call data shows that nearly 50% of voters listen to an entire automated message, and the people who hang up early on average listen to 22 seconds of the message.  The company experiences a response rate of over 30% for automated polls, similar to the response rate of 20-30% for live interview polls.  

Industry professionals suggest that when voter education is central to the political phone campaign, automated calls can be a positive and effective tool.  Although a candidate's budget is a valid consideration, it is important to place appropriate value on accurately conveying the campaign's message and intent.  It is recommended that candidates and consultants thoroughly research prospective robo call providers to ensure that all auto calls will be conducted professionally and in the best interest of the voting public.  

Contact: Brandon Gregoire, brandon@gopcalls.com

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Chris Kolker