A smalltown convenience store and gas station chain in Norfolk (VA) last week launched a pilot scheme enabling bored customers to watch ads while they fill their cars’ tanks. According to Anton Bakker, boss of Outsite Network, which employs just nine staff, his company has installed weatherproof TV monitors which will display ads, plus news from CNN and weather information.

Hosting the test is another local company, convenience store and gas station operator Miller Marts, whose president Jeff Miller enthuses about the captive audience at his pumps: “You've got four minutes, on average, of staring into space,” he said. Site owners log onto Outsite's website to control what's showing on the screens and can compose messages promoting instore items and insert local advertising.

Whilst remaining zip-lipped about cost, citing “competitive concerns”, Bakker claims that his devices cost around half the price of new, fully equipped multimedia pumps - which range from $10,000 to $15,000.

Commented Maureen Azzato, vice president and publisher of the New York-based trade magazines Convenience Store News and the Journal of Petroleum Marketing: “It's still very much in test mode. How much time will consumers really spend at the pump?"

News source: New York Times