Could it be that Gas Station TV’s journey is spluttering already? Especially with earlier this week’s decision by BP to award a multi-year contract to Retail Media Company (RMC) out of Los Angeles – RMC plan to build out a network of screens in a thousand or more BP and Arco branded gas stations in addition to placing screens in the attached convenience stores.
Here’s some fuel for debate:
Let’s look at the evidence as I did last week when I visited a local Arco station in Northern California for my weekly fill-up.
At first things look good for GSTV, the screen is large and set atop the gas pump for easy viewing, but as soon as the programming loop kicks in, my heart sinks faster than the fuel gauge on a Hummer.
Immediately I get the impression that the current set-up is yet another example of someone with a genius idea of putting up screens but as clueless as a Toyota Prius in a NASCAR race as how to program them.
There’s a great opportunity here for the Retail Media Company to shift this programming into high gear and actually create something that engages the viewer.
For what it’s worth, here are a few fundamental changes I’d introduce immediately…
- Audio: It’s hard to hear in the environment. Install some technology that breaks through the ambient noise and use less deep male voices; they sound muffled and incoherent.
- Consumer Experience: Look carefully at what’s going on. How are they interacting with the screen? Do they stand back as they’re watching or lean in for a closer look? This is going to determine your programming strategy.
- Clean Executions: The space is cluttered enough without burgers and slurpees flying over images of pizzas and ice cream. Keeping it simple is going to win you fans and sales.
- Text: Use it! Don’t rely on sound alone to deliver your message.
- On-screen host or not? I’m on the fence about on-screen hosted approaches in general; they can work, but need to be very well written, have great casting, and above all, be relevant.
In speaking with Adam Bleibtreu at Retail Media Company (Adam was President and Co-Founder of GSTV until he left in March 2007, Ed) he told me that the RMC screens will be interactive, providing the customer with a choice of programming.
This is a plus, in my opinion: the less content you force-feed to a consumer the better. And how’s this for a smart move? They’re also planning a Spanish language version of the programming in highly Hispanic skewing neighborhoods – targeted and relevant; how’s that for a concept?
From the four minutes or so it took to fill up my car, I had the distinct impression the current GSTV is running on fumes and I’m excited to see a company with the content and creative pedigree of Retail Media Company now in the driver’s seat.
And, before we completely exhaust the automotive analogies; Question “Are we there yet?” Answer “No, but with Retail Media Company at the wheel we’re a few, freeway miles closer”