Rather than watch the numbers spin higher and higher as they fill their gas tanks, drivers now have the distraction of TV spots at the pump.
Startup Gas Station TV is offering national and local content with 15-second ads on 20-inch, pump-mounted digital TV screens, confirming the notion that just about no place is safe from advertising. GSTV, Oak Park, Mich., is expanding a test program run at six stations in Dallas last December with a planned 100 stations in Atlanta and Houston by fall.
The company, which is privately held with financial backing from private equity firms led by DHW Capital, expects to reach the top 10 markets by January with 400 gas stations, CEO David Leider said.
“The key is this audience is mobile and basically tethered at the pump for an average of four to four-and-a-half minutes,” Mr. Leider said. GSTV’s measurement is more accurate than in-home TV, he said, because data are based on the number of transactions at the pumps. “It’s a captive audience.”
GSTV has contracted with Murphy Oil USA, which owns 1,000-plus gas stations in Wal-Mart parking lots, to put the system in 900-plus stations in 21 states.
GSTV also has partnered with the new-media sales arm of ABC, which provides national and local news, sports, weather, traffic content and advertising. GSTV takes ABC’s content, inserts ads from its own advertisers and creates four-minute loops with 15-second commercials. The same audio and video air simultaneously on all screens at each station.
GSTV’s revenue comes from the ads it sells. The company did not release numbers but said pricing is comparable to a spot cable buy.
The advertisers in the Dallas program are Chevrolet, Pepsi, Allstate, Goodyear, Wal-Mart, Ditech and Skoal. Publicis Groupe’s Starcom is handling GSTV’s national ad deals, which are still in the works.
Pump-side pitches aren’t new. In 2000, Dallas-based BillBoard Video ran spots along with wireless news content on 12-inch screens at gas stations, but it stopped in 2003.
“There’s a significant difference between the pioneers and the settlers,” GSTV President Adam Bleibtreu said. Predecessors have failed for reasons including expensive technology and resistance from advertisers and consumers.
“To us, GSTV is a network,” Mr. Bleibtreu said. “We’ve taken the television set from your living room and put it at the gas station.”