Less Is More: Gas Station TV Favors Shorter Spots

Less is more. A Nielsen study commissioned by Gas Station TV found that 10- and 15-second spots are equal or superior to 30-second spots in terms of brand recall, according to GSTV CEO David Leider, who described the findings Tuesday.

The study was conducted over a two-week period at 24 GSTV-equipped U.S. gas stations in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Dallas, comparing ad recall for 10-, 15- and 30-second spots from two national advertisers.

The creative content, style and tone of the ads were similar, with length the only significant variable. To determine ad recall, Nielsen randomly surveyed customers over the age of 18 with 16 questions related to their behavior at the gas station, advertising recall and purchase intent.

The study found that a 15-second spot for Werther's candy was 7% more effective than its 30-second counterpart in terms of ad recall; ROI for the 15-second spot was 108% greater than the 30-second spot. Similarly, a 10-second spot for Kellogg's Pop Tarts had 2% higher ad recall than the 30-second spot, producing 156% greater ROI.

Overall, almost 90% of respondents said they watched or listened to GSTV programming while fueling. On average, according to Leider, GSTV's research with Nielsen has found that about 70% of consumers recall one or more ads (of all lengths) from a particular exposure.

The findings lend quantitative support to the general feeling--often expressed by observers of place-based and Internet video--that 30-second spots aren't suitable for such media, which is dominated by short-form content. In particular, it suggests that in a limited period of captive viewing, 30-second spots overwhelm the short-form content, and risk losing the viewer's interest.

In addition to the Nielsen data, Gas Station TV is introducing a number of new features for advertisers to complement its video offerings, including mobile-marketing programs that can give them a better handle on ROI.

Leider cited data from two campaigns performed for a big-box retailer and an online flower company. The online flower company ran a 15-second ad that offered a 10% discount to customers who sent a text message "Gas" to a special number, leading to a 43% increase in new customers. The big-box retailer offered customized ringtones for purchase and download, with a promo on GST telling customers to send a special text-message code. The retailer achieved a 400% sales lift in a one-month period, with over 50% of the new activity coming from the pump ads.

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