Practitioners say bipartisanship needed in carrier outreach on 10DLC
Over the past year, SMS providers and digital strategists on both sides of the aisle have been working on the implications of mobile carriers rolling out the 10DLC program. And practitioners C&E spoke to said much of that work takes place in partisan silos.
But as the March 1 deadline for registration with T-Mobile and AT&T looms (along with the additional fees and potential lockdown that will go into effect), at least one practitioner is pushing for a broader approach to industry.
Krishna Ghodiwala, co-founder and co-CEO of Text Surge, a full-service texting company that works with groups and campaigns on the left, said the best way forward is to take a bipartisan approach to managing relationships. with carriers regarding 10DLC, which is the new regime governing Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging sent via standard 10-digit long code (10DLC) telephone numbers.
“For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to have really strong coalitions across different parties, because people need to be on the same page on the challenges of 10DLC so they can be aligned with mobile operator demand,” she told C&E. .
“It only helps our case as an industry if both parties have a consistent request before approaching mobile carriers, as we will appear more organized and informed in front of decision makers at [AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile].”
In March last year, Yoni Landau, CEO of Movement Labs, told C&E: “At this point, after January 6, I’m not sure bipartisanship has a good shine at this point on our side. It’s just bad taste.
Landau was part of a group of left-leaning practitioners who had organized on Twitter under the hashtag #Stop10DLC and on bi-weekly “big tent” conference calls with vendors, organizers, consultants, and progressive organizations. Ghodiwala said that when it comes to the practical impacts of 10DLC, this tent should probably stretch a bit wider.
“A coordinated industry response is needed because mobile operator decision makers are mostly product and technical people unfamiliar with the political industry and how it works,” she said. “We need to educate them about our work and how they would approach a large retail brand, for example, doesn’t work for our space.
“It’s a very different type of program when we’re talking about voter registration or GOTV,” she said. “It’s also very different when you’re talking about activities taking place in a busy election cycle versus a lean year and even in an election cycle when you’re six months away from election day versus a month or a week . We don’t do consistent volume levels throughout the year, but the mobile carrier people won’t necessarily know that until we explain it to them.
RumbleUp’s Thomas Peters, a Republican consultant who coordinated an industry response with Ghodiwala, said bipartisanship here ensures there aren’t different rules implemented for different groups.
“There should be transparent rules so that all suppliers can follow best practices,” he told C&E. “We don’t need to all get together and sign a joint letter. We can each choose to be in our silos, but I think focusing on the remaining unanswered questions that telcos need to provide more clarity on is something that would be helpful for telcos to hear from two sides – these are common concerns.”
Among the outstanding issues are “debit caps” and ensuring the rules are rolled out with an appreciation of the political calendar, which sees the primary season kick off on March 1 with the Texas nominating contests.
Meanwhile, another challenge facing the industry: Many space practitioners and their clients are distributing and receiving “misinformation” about deployment, according to Ghodiwala.
“The biggest challenge,” she said, “is that there was no single source of truth for all updates from all carriers because they all had their own independent updates. This was my biggest complaint in the beginning when I started working to compile accurate information about 10DLC.
“I also made it clear to the people handling the registration process that if they want the political space to be compliant and follow the rules, they need to be proactive in making accurate information easily accessible.”
In fact, some consultants played a role in spreading misinformation, which hampered industry response, Ghodiwala said.
“They can present information in a way that’s not necessarily wrong, but also not necessarily clear,” she said. “That’s how a blog post goes around, an email goes around, someone interprets it a certain way, and that’s really how we’ve seen misinformation spread about this question.”
She added: “When we finally started getting the right information, things seemed a little less dire and we also became more prepared to make the right requests to mobile operators.”