Giant IoT Phone Screens Open to Advertising in NY

The public pay phone is getting a facelift to become part of the Internet of Things.

The ambitious project to install larger-than-life phones in New York City to provide free, high-speed WiFi to pedestrians is coming to life.

“They’re going to be deployed this year and I’m still surprised by how many people don’t know about them,” said Scott Varland, creative director, IPG Media Lab, a partner in the program.

Speaking at the recent MediaPost IoT: Shopping conference, Varland detailed some of the implications of the LinkNYC program.

LinkNYC was announced late last year and has a lot of muscle behind it, including backing from Google co-founder Larry Page, Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group.

The network will be funded by advertising.

The digital kiosks, for lack of a better description, will be hard to miss throughout New York City.

“They’re 10 feet tall, with 24/7 free internet with an Android tablet on the front at arm height,” said Varland. “It’s going to have a microphone so you can make free voice calls. It has a USB adapter to quick-charge your phone, a keyboard, headphone jack and this intelligent responsive digital out-of-home display, which I believe is 55 inches.

“There will be 7,500 of the units deployed throughout New York City.”

If approved by the city, sensors that could be utilized include temperature, humidity, ambient light, pollutants, exposure to the sun, noise sensors and on-street motion that can detect cars going by.

But the key for marketers is the messaging planned to come through the screens.

“They’re for advertising and for shoppers,” said Varland. “What I’m really excited about, in terms of dynamic creative, is the ability to drive foot traffic to stores and create contextualize ads. From a marketing point of view, it really allows marketers to focus in on the here and now."

Varland sees several implications for the giant phones:

  • Reaching the audience in the here and how
  • Reevaluating out-of-home media
  • In-sight driven advertising
  • Deliver footfall

“If you have a store in midtown and you know your customers tend to come from certain areas of Brooklyn on a certain train, you could track basically when they will get to your front door and then buy up the ads on those links and deliver something contextual,” said Varland.

And this new pay phone of the future requires no coin.


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