Gas pump guys to JV; seem to exit Canada

June 23, 2009 by Dave Haynes

The bustle of last week meant I missed a number of things that squirted out as press releases, including word that two of the big three who do screens on gas pumps have consolidated.

They also, it at least appears, have quietly exited the Canadian market.

Outcast, which used to be called Fuelcast, and PumpTop TV have announced a joint venture that makes for one big national network of screens at gas pumps across the US – some 12,600 screens in 15 of the top 20 DMAs.

“This partnership represents a major step forward in marketplace consolidation and streamlines the media buying process, a request we consistently hear from marketers and media buyers alike,” said Matthew Stoudt, CEO of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Outcast. “Now with one call, advertisers can access over 20 million on-the-go consumers on a one-to-one basis via one of the most measurable and targeted platforms in the space.”

“Our reach puts us on par with the most watched television shows in the U.S. This is a staggering number and surpasses the scale that marketers today demand in their drive to reach on-the-go consumers,” said Douglas Woo, executive vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based AdtekMedia. “Thanks to the respective market strengths of Outcast and PumpTop TV networks, the sum of this partnership is exponentially greater than its parts.”

The JV means Outcast will do ad sales and marketing and Adtek will do R&D and operations. Adtek works with Westinghouse Digital on screens, players and software and there is the inference that it will be the platform going forward.

This was somewhat inevitable, as the ad sales and site development forces would be spending too much time competing on deals that were already hard to come by. They also would have been confusing the hell out of media planners, who undoubtedly would have to ask at some some point in pitch meetings, “Ok, remind me again … which one are you???”

The word is, as always, that no jobs will be lost and in fact people will be hired, but it often doesn’t work out that way when you have two people or teams doing the same thing.

No word on brand, and both networks have pretty big footprints.

Destination Media’s GSTV is now the other big guy, and there are a few regional players, as well … some who will likely get swallowed up over time.

Meanwhile, the screens that started popping up on pumps at Esso in Canada several years ago are disappearing. They have been removed from the stations in my area, and I have heard the same elsewhere. They would have been loosely part of Outcast (Fuelcast), as they were installed much earlier by a company called VST Media.

If they are indeed existing the country, it’s not suprising as the screens were plagued by technical problems inherent in operating in areas where the temperature can vary 130 degrees F over the space of 12 months. The programming was also ghastly, and paid ads were rare. The Outcast people, I assume, made the logical decision to spend its capital dollars getting a bigger footprint in the US than propping up an orphaned part of the networkl over the border.

This is a tough space, and while consolidation will help (likely) reduce operating costs and take some noise out of the marketplace, I’m challenged to think media planners and brands look at gas pump screens as critical parts of their media budget.

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