Remember the headlines from a year ago?
“Court Rules for DMA in No-Call List Challenge.”
“Court Deals Telemarketers Another Surprise Victory.”
“Week Ends With DNC List in Limbo.”
And finally, “Court OKs FTC Enforcement of No-Call Registry.”
Boy, what a turbulent few days those were. Now, we have reached the one-year anniversary of the national no-call registry – time for reporters in the mainstream press to say how the calls have stopped interrupting their dinners. Some interesting tidbits can be discerned from what the Federal Trade Commission spent to have the DNC list built (see our special report, page 1). AT&T Government Solutions may have received the most money, but many others shared in the $17.6 million in contracts. Even JDG Communications will receive $320,007 for an ad campaign that generated 91 percent public awareness of the list, though I would say that’s more because of the nonstop news coverage over the past year.
So, where does the industry stand? We have yet to see the 2 million layoffs expected by the American Teleservices Association, but there have been plenty of call center closings attributed to the list. Sixty-four million numbers are on the list, and the Supreme Court still hasn’t said whether it will hear the ATA’s challenge. Meanwhile, the ATA will announce at its convention in Miami this week that it wants to create an independent self-regulatory organization for outbound and inbound teleservices. Though its enforcement role is not yet defined, this is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope the ATA puts enough bite into its enforcement capabilities.
For me personally, I did not sign up for the registry so I could conduct my own survey. The results? It almost seems like I signed up for the list, since my home phone rings so rarely most days. So the experts who predicted that the rest of us would be called constantly once the list took effect seem to be wrong.
For a history of telemarketing over the years, you should page through our 25th anniversary supplement included with this week’s issue (there’s that shameless plug again). Mitchell Lieber looks at the trends that allowed call centers to become the largest direct marketing channel. I want to thank Lieber and the 19 other columnists who looked back to DM News’ early days. I’d also like to thank our editorial, advertising and production staffs for putting together this retrospective as well as the advertisers who made it possible.