State Farm Is Targeting Location-Based Ads at Gas Stations

18,000 locations are getting equipped with digital screens

Looped video segments last for four to five minutes. GSTV
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If you regularly fill your tank at a gas station, chances are you’ve spent a few minutes standing idly by your car. Now, advertisers want to serve you ads while you wait.

State Farm is running video ads on digital screens built into the pumps at 18,000 national gas stations as part of a partnership between Gas Station TV and payment company Verifone. The screens loop through a four- to five-minute segment featuring content from ESPN, CNN and Bloomberg that run alongside short national and local commercials from brands like State Farm. Each station’s screens can be customized to pull in either local or national content.

“State Farm has an interest in reaching the driving public,” said Edward Gold, advertising director at State Farm. “While we can do that on television and online video, when you have somebody who is actually driving a car, experiencing their car, taking care of their car and therefore thinking about their car, it’s a great opportunity for us.”

GSTV and Verifone claim their network of digital screens reaches one in three adults and 75 million unique monthly viewers. According to David Leider, president and CEO of Gas Station TV, 69 percent of that audience is between the ages of 18 and 49, a group of cord-cutting consumers who are increasingly watching video in ways other than linear TV. “We like to say that the audience is tied to that screen with a rubber hose for about five minutes—it’s a very captive, locked-down audience,” Leider said.

State Farm bought ads through GSTV in 2015 and ran a study through Lieberman Research in which 48 percent of respondents recalled seeing a State Farm ad, and 69 percent said they’d consider the company the next time they shopped for insurance.

State Farm’s Gold said the new work is part of a bigger plan to beef up the brand’s location-based advertising efforts, which also include piloting sponsored promos in online community platform Nextdoor.

“Local advertising is always something that we do, but then our ability to target people whether we know that they’re in a specific area—let’s say the northern suburb of Chicago—might be a little better market for us than the downtown area of Chicago,” Gold said. “Then when you start looking at location-based advertising opportunities, even from where the cellphone is at, and how we can target someone who has been standing on an auto dealership lot for five minutes, which means they’re either getting their car fixed or they’re shopping for a new car, we’re definitely getting more into very specific location-based opportunities.”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.