Pumping Sales: Q&A With GSTV's Sean McCaffrey

Now that the amount of time people spend in front of the television has been declining over the past decade, traditional TV is no longer the sure thing it used to be for getting in front of viewers.

One alternative is GSTV, a network of programming at the gas pumps. GSTV claims an audience of 104 million monthly unique viewers. For three to five minutes, GSTV gets access to consumers while they have not much else to do but pump their gas.

Since launching in 2005, GSTV has expanded to 25,000 locations at 7-Eleven, BP, Chevron and Gulf, among others. GSTV viewing has also soared during the pandemic, as PepsiCo and other major advertisers came on board.

We spoke with Sean McCaffrey, president and CEO of GSTV, about the network. Below are some excerpts from that conversation.

Marketing Daily: Do you have stats on how many people pay attention to GSTV? I assume it comes on when they start pumping, but how do you know they’re not looking away or listening to their own devices?



Sean McCaffrey: We take the time we have with our viewers while they are fueling up very seriously. In those three to five minutes, we want to supply our viewers with an entertaining and informative respite in their day, and the content experience that we’ve programmed reflects this.

From our 2021 Audience Insights study, we know that 89% of consumers watch and listen to GSTV. That amounts to 104 million unique viewers each month giving GSTV their 1:1 attention, or 2.5x more attentive to ads on GSTV than ads on linear TV, and 3.2x more attentive to ads on connected TV.

Marketing Daily: What are the products that you find get the best pickup when advertised on GSTV? What are some opportunities you see that are so far unexploited?

Sean McCaffrey: We work with advertisers across a wide array of categories, some that one would expect to see on GSTV, and some that may be more unexpected, but perform equally well. The success of our advertisers is leveraging GSTV to capture consumers who are not just fueling up, but out and about and in the mindset of making their next purchase decision for today’s lunch, this afternoon’s activity, tonight’s show to watch, next month’s vacation, a new car this summer, and beyond.

Being steps away from convenience stores, packaged foods and bottled beverages make a lot of sense for GSTV. However, we also know that on the day that consumers are fueling up, they are often making other stops as well -- and GSTV is one of the last full sight, sound, and motion screens they are paying attention to in the last mile of their consumer journey.

Because of this, we’ve found success for CPG brands looking to drive purchase decisions across retail channels, whether it be grocery, drug, or big box.  We also know that our viewers eat and drink a lot, so QSRs have found success partnering with GSTV.

Likewise, automotive (our viewers are drivers), entertainment, financial services and travel are also categories that are unexpected but have performed well on GSTV because our viewers are in the right mindset.

Every ad impression, for example, is also a payment transaction, so for a financial advertiser, say, it’s a highly contextual moment to talk to consumers about their relationship to their money, household budget, financial wellness, etc.

Marketing Daily: What do electric cars mean for the long-term prospects for GSTV?

Sean McCaffrey:  Regardless of the type of fuel, we are in the business of following the consumer journey. We know that electric cars are on the rise, and we’re keeping pace with consumer adoption.

We’re a partner alongside those who are fueling the evolution of transportation -- retailers, auto OEMs, major energy companies. We all know this is a rapidly evolving industry and we look forward to what’s to come for the intersection of consumer transportation and media. 

Our business has been growing over the past few years -- not only in the footprint of our network and size of our audience, but also in the variety of brands partnering with us and the success of delivering on outcomes -- and we will continue to innovate around reaching consumers at the right time, right place, and right moment.

Marketing Daily:  Gas prices have spiked recently. Do you find that rising prices makes GSTV consumers less receptive to ads? Why or why not?

Sean McCaffrey: We have not found a connection between the price of fuel and a consumer’s receptivity towards what’s on the screens. Our content experience is designed to entertain and inform based on audience insights, and that does not fluctuate with changing consumer prices.

Marketing Daily: What about when someone walks into a convenience store/gas station that has GSTV? Are there reminders in-store? How do they work?

Sean McCaffrey: According to our Audience Insights study, 62% of fuelers visited the C-store on their most recent visit to the gas station. Our primary aim is to entertain, inform and connect with our audience of drivers filling up at the 28,000+ fuel retailers with GSTV screens across the U.S., and also to best serve the advertisers and retailers who partner with us.

We do this best by partnering with brands, agencies, and retailers to reach consumers at the right time, right place, and right moment -- and in that right mindset -- about their next stop post-fuel-up. We work with our fuel retailer partners to use messaging that shares their latest promotions on our screens to drive customers into the C-store, and we work with brands to direct consumers with creative best practices and calls-to-action relevant to their campaigns. 

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