While GasBuddy lets consumers find the least expensive price for a gallon of gas, Max Metral, GasBuddy CTO, says most people don’t know that the platform also transacts payments and collects a host of data on each transaction.
It’s Metral's brainchild. He began writing code to create programs as a child. At 15, during the 1980s, he wrote code for an Atari magazine. He also has contributed to patents for eBay and PayPal.
“My dad put together computers and I always wanted to play around with them,” he said.
One of Metral’s projects, Pay With GasBuddy, closes the search-to-purchase loop. The platform collects data such as location, date, time of day, and fuel type, but what if it also collected data on non-fuel uses like purchases in a convenience store, grocery store or retail clothing store?
Today the platform runs a debit program, but expanding it to a credit card could provide brands with much more opt-in data.
GasBuddy launched in April 2000. Metral joined in May 2016 from PayPal to build a payment platform with a debit card. I asked whether that card could one day process other types of credit transactions.
“We have discussed a type of credit card, but there are some mechanics in the way purchases happen that would need working out,” he said, pointing to closing the loop on mobile payments. “We run the debit program. The discount comes from the interchange we get from the card that a consumer swipes, minus the lack of interchange that we pay when it hits the consumer’s bank account. That’s where the margins come from.”
Those types of programs typically take much longer to develop and get off the ground, he said. Last week, GasBuddy launched Deal Alerts to take on retail fuel loyalty programs from companies like Exxon, Shell and others. The fuel purchase program gives consumers below-advertised prices for a gallon of gas.
Consumers get up to 25 cents off per gallon when they fill up using the GasBuddy platform based on location, retail discounts and app use frequency. The company last week also offered $5 in GasBack credits to the first 10,000 people who signed up for the Pay With GasBuddy, a payments program that provides a fixed discount on every fill-up.
“We’re finally to a point where mobile promotions can drive consumers into a specific location because we’re talking about dollar amounts that will show up on retail -- especially franchises' -- bottom line,” he said.
Today, consumers can’t buy a Coke with the GasBuddy card, for example, but the company knows they came and made a gas purchase.
Uniquely, GasBuddy can filter data purchases by fuel grade to create audience buckets and make inferences about the type of vehicle someone drives. The My Car feature, where app users can enter the make, model and year of their vehicle, notifies patrons if there is an active recall on their car. The feature doubles as a valuable utility for drivers and an audience segment tool.
GasBuddy also offers a host of advertising options for fuel and convenience brands such as Sponsored Search, which bumps a retailer’s closest location to the top position on the list with a paid inclusion similar to Google’s sponsored search results. Then there is Stitched Ad, which is attached to a retailer's organic search results, to help create more product awareness for things like fuel quality, mobile pay, and loyalty programs.
There is an ad unit that gives quick-service restaurants an opportunity to become part of a user's errands run.
Badges give QSR brands an opportunity to highlight restaurants near a gas station, mostly within walking distance. The Stitched Ad unit allows CPG advertisers to appear on gas station listings where their products are sold.