Gas station tv

Saturday 12 July 2008

The latest step in our march toward all advertising all the time is Gas Station TV, which consists of screens on top of gas pumps, blaring news, weather, and ads. These remind me of the screens in elevators, pestering us for the few minutes it takes to ride to our floor.

I understand the economic forces driving these micro-channels of ad-laced info-bits. What I don't understand is why they have to be limited to news headlines and weather forcasts. If the information is only there to engage our interest, why not branch out? What about classic paintings? What about cartoons from the New Yorker? How about poetry? Opening paragraphs from random Wikipedia articles? With so much content flowing all over the net, why are we forced to see the same news, stocks, sports, and weather all the time?

Comments

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Jonathan Hollin 10:35 AM on 12 Jul 2008

As no-one will be able to afford to buy gas soon this is probably going to be irrelevant! ;-)

Joking aside, you have a good point. Why not use such displays to educate, or to provide public service messages (perhaps sponsored by Acme Corp.)?

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Giacomo 5:56 PM on 12 Jul 2008

Because what you propose will need time/concentration much more than newsbites (where a title is often enough) or smalltalk/smallthinking "oh it's gonna rain". Also, I hate to be classist, but certain sectors of the population will simply "tune off" as soon as they see something like that (I do that myself, at times).

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Ned Batchelder 6:42 PM on 12 Jul 2008

I guess I have more faith than you in the general population. All the screens need to do is attract people's attention. They'll be pumping gas for two or three minutes, and it's the brightest loudest thing there, so the content doesn't have to be that compelling. Same with elevators: everyone's looking at the screen anyway. Besides, not to be classist, but how much of the general population pays attention to what the Dow did today?

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Robert Kieffer 7:14 PM on 12 Jul 2008

I don't believe this is a classist issue. It's simply an issue of been-there-read-that. By the time you get to a gas station, you have almost surely either read the paper, or listened to the radio, or checked the internet, or opened your cellphone, all of which contain the least-common-denominator information these gas station tv ads are pumping out. You've already got your daily dose of "must-have" information.

Ned has a good point. I suspect most people would find random content drawn from interesting sources around the web to be much more compelling. For example...

The Flickr "interestingness" feed
The Smoking Gun's latest "featured document"
Any article from "The Onion"
Random Digg features

Oh, or here's a novel idea: Just rotate through the top stories from OTHER countries instead of recycling the same crap Rupert Murdoch keeps pouring down our throats.

... oh, wait, that last one is a bit classist, isn't it?

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xnrat 12:47 AM on 13 Jul 2008

Wait until they fit those screens with RFID readers and network access. So they can read the various discount cards the average person carries. Then the ads displayed are tailored to the interest of the person watching.

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Alan Green 3:44 AM on 13 Jul 2008

Have you seen the advertising screens on hand-dryers in rest rooms? The ones I've seen have a 2" screen and a tinny little speaker. I don't know why they have a speaker, because it's impossible to hear while you're drying your hands.

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David Boudreau 11:29 AM on 13 Jul 2008

Not sure if they have this there or not, but in Japan they have had tiny TV screens in supermarkets in certain places for years now, eg dairy section that run an ad, usually one ad continuously. Some vending machines have it too.

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Paul Downs 8:29 AM on 14 Jul 2008

I have seen these and one of our local grocery stores also has them in the checkout line and all through the store - which is why I stopped shopping there, even though it's within walking distance of my house. My first instinct on seeing these is to vandalize them, as I hate the intrusive nonsense coming out of them. I find it offensive that someone assumes that I am unable to generate my own interesting thoughts to pass a couple of minutes, and that I should be subjected to this crap instead, to the benefit of someone else's bottom line. A true advance would be an "opt-out" chip in my wallet, which would turn these things off.

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Roy Tate 2:46 PM on 14 Jul 2008

I first saw these blaring advert boxes on gas pumps over 2 years ago, and I definitely avoid them. If it gets as bad as Minority Report depicted (but even more offensive, since it will be pointless advert drivel), I will start wearing ear plugs.

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LiteralDan 11:43 PM on 3 Nov 2009

I know I'm late to the party here, but I just wanted to register my disgust for these things, now that said disgust was still fresh in my mind when I got home.

This is a tide that needs to be turned back. We must all rise up! How many people can really be happy to see these things?

If I ever run into the guy from Shell who so cutely "knocks on the screen" to get my attention, I can't promise I won't punch him in the face, cog of a machine though he may be. I don't care if it's just your job, you volunteered to be the face of this phenomenon, and you get everything that comes with it!

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