Now Showing on Gas Station TV: Impulse Buying!!!!

3/17/11

You’re pumping gas in the middle of an errand-filled Saturday afternoon. A commercial for the eatery down the road on the screen appears above the pump.

Suddenly, your stomach growls.

You head to the restaurant, armed with a coupon the pump had just spit out.

For Gas Station TV, based in Birmingham, MI, that scenario represents the future of advertising technology. This spring, the company will debut technology that will allow customers to print an ad or promotion code from the commercial on their gas receipt at half of its more than 1,200 locations across the country.

The digital place-based network industry, which includes digital advertising at retail locations, health clubs, restaurants and other venues, grew 15.1 percent last year, according to PQ Media’s Digital Out of Home Media Forecast. Digital ad networks focusing on transportation grew 20.3 percent, the study estimates.

Gas Station TV’s alternative format more attractive to advertisers, according to Leo Kivijarv, vice president for research at PQ Media, because it will help the company show advertisers that consumers are acting on the commercials they see on the company’s network.

“What they’re trying to do is to prove that somebody has seen the message,” Kivijarv says.

Gas Station TV has already rolled out similar programs, which prompt viewers to text in a code or go to a website, with some success, says CEO David Leider.

“We’ve got a consumer who is tied to that screen with an eight foot rubber hose for about five minutes,” Leider says. “We’ve provided them this great content experience and we’ve really done well for our clients in terms of increasing ad recall.”

Digital network advertising is still tiny. The format generated about $89 million in revenue for all of 2010. By contrast, Super Bowl XLV generated between $300 and $400 million in ad revenue in one night.

“It’s a relative drop in the bucket for [advertisers], but they’re willing to do it because of the high engagement and the ability to reach that audience right as they’re going to their point of decision,” Kivijarv says.

Leider puts it more bluntly: “The company was founded on the premise that advertisers need to reach consumers and traditional media is failing to do so.”

Gas Station TV says 27 million viewers sees it ads every month, 76 percent of them belong to the key 18-49 year-old demographic.

The Internet and other software programs have also been a boon to the industry because they give operators the ability to make their ad programs flexible and location-specific.

“Every station has its own unique IP address and we can drive somebody to the retailer that is closest to that particular station,” Lieder says.

Still, Kivijarv says brands aren’t abandoning television advertising anytime soon. Companies like Ford, Visa, Allstate and others are buying space on networks like Gas Station TV as part of larger marketing campaigns. This branding strategy allows companies to hit consumers – who are increasingly likely to access media on mobile phones or other places outside their homes – with messaging multiple times a day.

“They want to hit the consumer at as many points of reference as possible,” Kivijarv says. “Hitting them multiple times allows you to get around that clutter of marketing messages.”

Lieder is confident Gas Station TV will continue to flourish.

“With Gas Station TV we deliver the same audience week and week out and we’re not dependent on the success of an individual piece of creative that’s running on a network,” Lieder says. “We offer advertisers a constant flow of viewers. It’s a very compelling story in the marketing community.”

Jillian Berman is an intern for Xconomy Detroit. Follow @

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