Your client’s message on payphones
Yes, they still exist in the age of mobile devices
October 29, 2012
The number of public payphones in the U.S. has decreased dramatically over the past 10 years. There’s little demand for them because 85 percent of adults have a cell phone.
Still, more than 400,000 remain across the country, mostly as a matter of public safety, and they’ve morphed into an inexpensive out-of-home advertising venue.
Payphones are often located at or near a point-of-purchase, such as a convenience store or restaurant. That makes them an ideal place to advertise a product that can be purchased in those locations.
Advertisers can also target their campaigns by using payphones in specific areas, such as ethnic neighborhoods or downtown business districts.
To find out how to get your client on payphones, read on.
This is one in a Media Life series on buying out-of-home venues. They appear weekly.
Advertising on public payphones.
There are a handful of vendors that handle payphone advertising in individual markets and one that runs a nationwide network.
How it works
The most common form of payphone advertising is 12- by 48-inch signs on each side of the phone kiosk, making the ads visible to passersby going in each direction.
Kiosks of a certain shape can also be completely wrapped.
Some areas of larger cities such as New York have banks of two, three or four payphones next to each other, and advertisers can place larger 4-by-3 foot signs across the back of those kiosks.
Payphone ads are often located in areas where there isn't any other eye-level advertising, giving marketers a sense of exclusivity.
Networks have been set up for many categories, such as beer and spirit advertisers outside of liquor stores and CPG advertisers outside of convenience stores.
Like other forms of outdoor advertising, payphone marketers can use a call-to-action such as a text message or QR code to extend the campaign from the payphone to mobile devices.
Payphone advertising can be executed in any market, although most advertisers focus on the top 30 DMAs.
Last year there were 425,000 payphones in the U.S., according to the American Public Communications Council. That's down from 2.2 million in 2000.
How it is measured
Street traffic data is used to estimate impressions. Also, marketers can track how many people interact with calls to action such as text or QR codes.
What product categories work well
Recent or current payphone advertisers include fast food, telecommunications, beer, airlines, TV networks, consumer packaged goods and credit cards.
Demographics for payphone campaigns generally match those of the market they're placed in. Advertisers are able to target specific groups by location, such as ethnic audiences or college students.
Making the buy
Lead time is typically three to four weeks.
Pricing varies depending on the size of the campaign. CPMs are generally in the $2 range.
Who's already been on payphones
Current or recent brands that have used payphone advertising include AT&T, McDonald's, GM, MasterCard, Nike, Heineken, USA, Tecate, Discovery Channel, MTV, Anheuser-Busch, Gatorade and Lung Cancer Alliance.
What they're saying
"If you think payphones no longer exist, think again. There are still a considerable number of payphones out there for public convenience. They're still relevant, and they also still exist in places that you may not realize." — Barry Selvidge, president at Prime Point Media
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