In an effort to drive foot traffic into the store, units called pump-toppers (static advertisements promoting in-store specials) are being replaced by digital signage networking. By installing digital screens atop the pumps, stations are able to use the screens to display promotions for in-store items, variety entertainment, commercial advertisements, and news content.
Launched in June 2006, Gas Station TV employs 20-inch daylight-viewable monitors that affix to the top of a standard gas pump to deliver news, sports, weather and traffic information to customers filling their gas tanks.
Content is the result of a partnership between ABC National Television Sales and GSTV, which boasts 5,600 screens in its network. While the popularity of advertising at the gas pump has expanded, nearly half of the placed broadcast advertisements are of standard television length.
Akin to adjustments for advertisements designed for different media platforms (e.g., billboard, Website, or radio) advertisers have been reluctant to modify content for the network. In essence, GSTV wants to persuade its advertisers to modify and simplify ads appropriate to its delivery platform (i.e., shorter than 30-second length spots).
A Nielsen study, conducted for GSTV, revealed that advertisement recall for a 15-second spot, and even some 10-second spots, were significantly more effective than the traditional 30-second promotion. For example, a 15-second advertisement for a premium candy bar was 7 percent more effective than a traditional 30-second counterpart and generated 108 percent greater return on investment.
Similarly, a 10-second advertisement for Pop-tarts had 2 percent higher recall and generated 156 percent greater return on investment. GSTV’s approach is to convince advertisers that shorter promotions generate the same or greater effectiveness as longer ads, while produced at a much lower cost.
Since 2006, Gas Station TV (GSTV) has managed and provided a video content network to gas station customers at zero cost. GSTV derives its revenues through the sale of on-screen advertising to a variety of major accounts (e.g., Chevrolet, Progressive Insurance, and Quicken Loans). The stations enjoy incremental sales increases without having to be concerned about external promotional revenue generation.
What do gas station video network providers claim an application will provide to the station owner? Here is the short list:
- A customer loyalty program to drive motorists to the station.
- On-site promotions that create activity and excitement at the site.
- Audio/video commercials to drive customers into the store.
- News, weather and sports from local providers.
- Couponing that adds value to the shopping experience.
- A low energy usage, double-sided 19-inch LCD pumptop device.
As digital media begins to emerge in the vending and OCS channels, the question remains, what next? The next generation of promotional concepts is likely to include aromatherapy (smell), dialogue (sound), and 3-D formatting (sight) to attract consumer attention.
The strength of dynamic digital signage over print media or basic broadcast media may not just be technical; it may also be psychological. Dynamic digital signage (DDS) can influence purchase behavior, deliver product information, entertain, and broadcast emotional messages to enhance the customer experience at the point of purchase.
DDS allows for instant product updating, pricing, item availability, descriptions, discounts, promotions, and the like. Screens can be part of a centralized network for multi-unit operation or separate for independent operations. In addition, a vending company may opt to have variable content controlled over a network featuring paid advertising.
Even the best hardware, software, and netware will fail spectacularly if it relies on weak, boring, or poorly designed content. As dynamic digital signage becomes more popular, the cost of installation and training are expected to continue to decline. DDS can have an unparalleled impact on customer purchase decisions and therefore deserves consideration in vending and OCS operations.