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Kevin Smith

Spotlight: RealCal

16 April 2002

The Broadcast Team has offered its RealCall service to land-based casinos and other industries for more than seven years and is now targeting interactive gaming.

RealCall enables companies to leave prerecorded messages on customers' answering machines or voice mailboxes. The messages are recorded to sound as though a special call was made and usually prompt a person to call back for a promotion or customer feedback.

The practice has proven highly effective in the land-based gaming world and Mike Ellis, TBT's direct marketing specialist, feels that the success of RealCall could spread throughout the interactive gaming community. The company had agreements with about eight land-based casinos only a year-and-a-half ago. As word spread throughout the industry, and the practical uses of the system were proven, eventually 72 more land-based operators came aboard.

The Company

In June of 1992, TBT was founded with the goal of providing industry-specific direct marketing services to broadcasters, primarily television and radio stations.

At the time, direct marketing was proving to be an excellent medium for broadcasters looking to grow their audiences, Ellis said. TBT developed innovative and scientific targeting methods to reach its clients' customer bases. TBT's proprietary marketing programs proved to be the most effective methods available to broadcasters for boosting both Nielson and Arbitron ratings, resulting in increased year-round billing for TBT's clients.

In 1996 TBT expanded its services to include IVR (interactive voice response) telephony services. IVR became very popular as a way of collecting information and building a station's audience database.

To accommodate the unique capabilities required of its IVR applications, TBT began to develop its own IVR hardware and software. In 1997 TBT launched RealCall, an automated, outbound telemarketing system capable of leaving complete prerecorded messages on both answering machines and voice mailboxes.

Because RealCall messages are delivered at the precise moment answering systems begin recording, recipients of RealCall messages believe they have received a call from a live person.

The concept of delivering believable, personalized messages via RealCall ushered in an entirely new direct marketing medium known today as voice mail broadcasting.

In 1999 TBT integrated Internet hosting functionality into its telephony network. TBT's Internet resources allowed it to develop Web-based software that could interact with--and even control--TBT's telephony services from anywhere in the world.

As TBT's technical abilities and capabilities grew, so did the number of applications for its telephony network. To accommodate the development of promising non-marketing applications for its network, TBT created several strategic business units. To better serve the needs of their respective clients, several of these units evolved into independent companies.

The Product

RealCall is a computerized message delivery service capable of placing a prerecorded message, in its entirety, on a customer's answering machine or voice mail service.

RealCall's patent-pending software launches messages at the precise moment a customer's answering machine begins recording. There is no dead time before the messages starts recording. Ellis said many land-based casino operators have used it to make customers aware of special rates on rooms, concerts, invitation-only events and special VIP bonuses and offerings.

The system's capacity allows TBT to place more than one million RealCalls each day.

A major selling point for clients, Ellis said, is the system's fee-based payment system. Unlike a mass mailing campaign, clients are charged a 24-cent fee for each delivered message. A delivered message means a message heard by a customer--a guarantee hard to get out of bulk mailers, since many of them find the bottom of the trash can before they are read.

The Future

Ellis feels confident about what lies ahead for TBT and RealCall. A challenge for Ellis, though, is trying to get in touch with the proper executives in the online sector. Often, he said, sites won't have a way to contact administrators other than through a generic e-mail account. In that regard, he said, it is more time consuming trying to sell the system to online operators. But he is convinced the system can be used equally effectively in the online world as it has been in the bricks-and-mortar industry.

He predicts online operators could use the RealCall system to promote special tournaments and games that are being conducted at specific times or to invite a group of VIP players to a special high-stakes game. He said the system could also be used by online casinos to gather support for special sign-up bonuses, contests and give-a-way promotions.

Spotlight: RealCal is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith