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Gas Station TV Expands To EV Charging Stations

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Unless you bought a Tesla Model S when they first came out and never, ever drove a gas car since then, you’re probably familiar with Gas Station TV (GSTV). Once you’re done giving the gas pump your payment information and get the “lift nozzle, select grade” message, some gas pumps switch their screens over to showing video content, often in the form of a news show.

For some people, this is an annoying experience. Personally, I hate TV news because it tends to amplify the emotional aspect of events instead of letting me get a chance to at least be familiar with the relevant facts first. There’s also an unhealthy focus on celebrities and other things that are neither news or useful.

But, for other people, it’s a good distraction. Not only can it give you something to do for the few minutes you spend pumping fuel, but it can also keep your eye off the other screen that’s giving you depressing numbers. With the insane gas prices we saw earlier this year, that was probably a very welcome mental health aid (even if it doesn’t help you actually cope).

One of the big downsides of gas pump TV is that the audience doesn’t stay for very long. With only 2-5 minutes of time, the “captive audience” isn’t captive for long enough to put much in the way of commercial breaks or even product placement. But, there’s another audience that GSTV has their eyes on that may be around for longer than gas car owners.

Its new effort, called Destination Media, aims to bring TV-style programming to EV charging stations.

GSTV points out that as the number of EVs on the road increases, so does consumer adoption. This offers advertisers a unique opportunity to capitalize on a growing platform and reach a high volume of consumers. GSTV says its proven digital video network, in conjunction with Destination Media’s new EV media platform, provides advertisers with a valuable and growing audience.

GSTV will initially roll out the new EV media experience to 1,000 units in high-traffic retail locations that are part of the ChargePoint network. This includes places like shopping malls and outlets, grocery stores, hypermarkets, c-stores, drug stores, travel and entertainment centers, and nationwide QSR brands. Advertisers will have access to separate screens and EV chargers that give them flexibility for screen placement.

The company plans to hire research firms that specialize in campaign analytics and audience measurement to analyze data on viewers and advertising performance. This data will come from traditional research methods as well as more modern geospatial techniques. We don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounds like they have a plan that advertisers could learn more about.

When it comes to content, GSTV says that Destination Media’s sleek, large-screen digital displays will engage viewers with exciting short form content from 3rd party partners and its in-house studio. The company says this will occur in “a relevant and brand-safe environment.”

How This Could Help EV Adoption

The obvious thing this will do is help subsidize the installation of more EV charging stations, and perhaps subsidize charging costs. This could be particularly important in the beginning, when there are relatively few EV drivers and it’s tough to come up with profitable charging stations. Giving that extra source of revenue to property owners and others involved in providing charging could help make up for that.

This could end up being key to breaking the “Catch-22” situation with EVs. Without stations, people won’t want to buy EVs. Without mass-adopted EVs, people don’t want to build stations. If the stations can come out ahead of the EV mass adoption phase, it will make the whole thing actually work.

But, Will It Work Out For GSTV & Others?

One thing that may get in the way of marketing to EV drivers in this way is that the audience is less captive than gas car drivers in many ways. This may sound counterintuitive when you consider only that charging takes longer than filling a gas tank, but that’s exactly what frees the drivers from captivity.

When you arrive at a gas pump, you aren’t going to walk away from the pump because you’ll be there for such a short time and need to get your car out of the way. Except in rare cases, the driver is going to stand right there and stay by the pump. But, with an EV, you’ve got anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour to wait before you can move on. This is a perfect opportunity to walk away from the station and do something useful. Bathroom breaks, meals, and even a quick nap can happen in that time.

So, one big question will be what they’re doing to keep eyeballs from walking away or tailor their content to just the beginning of the charge. Or, perhaps more importantly, know whether there’s someone watching or they’re playing to an empty room.

The next big question will be how their screen will compete with the other screen we all carry with us now. I know that if I don’t leave my car during a charging stop, I’ll often spend a few minutes check on things like e-mail, text message, and other things I can’t safely do while driving. If there’s nothing urgent to deal with, I’ll then go to social media or perhaps watch some videos on YouTube.

I don’t know about you, but a TV screen playing things I didn’t choose will have a tough time competing with my smartphone that serves things up based on my own personal preferences. And, many other EV drivers (especially Tesla owners) have another screen in their dashboard. Plus, some people might just pull a laptop or tablet out and do work while charging. That’s a lot of screen real estate to compete with.

The key to all this is probably their emphasis on “short form” video content. If they can just get your attention for a few seconds while you’re plugging the car in, they might be able to do similar business to what they’re doing at gas pumps. That may be enough.

Featured image provided by GSTV.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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