Electric vehicle charging station operators ready to fight for advertising dollars

The next battleground in the fight for US marketers’ advertising dollars could be the charging stations used by the growing number of Americans who own electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

ChargePoint holdings Inc.,

the largest operator of electric vehicle charging stations in the United States by number of stations, will create a national advertising network in partnership with digital signage company Ara Labs Inc. and Destination Media Inc., which operates under the name of GSTV and produces video advertisements in gas stations and other retailers. ChargePoint currently operates 28,753 charging stations out of a total of 50,063 in the United States, according to Department of Energy data.

The first ChargePoint ad displays will go live before the end of the year, and the company expects to install approximately 1,000 screens in 10 key markets within a year of launch, said Sean McCaffrey, president and CEO of GSTV. . These screens will run ads in and around original three- to five-minute videos with news, weather and pop culture content, McCaffrey said. Advertising will be optional for businesses that purchase and install ChargePoint chargers.

The pitch from EV station manufacturers to marketers is intended to help them target high-income consumers just before they enter a given outlet, where there are many charging stations.

“We are at the places where you already go [and] spend your time and resources,” said Brandt Hastings, Commercial Director of Volta Inc.,

a manufacturer of advertising-powered electric vehicle charging stations.

Advertisements on Volta screens have “ensure we reach a premium audience of electric and non-electric vehicle drivers at the point of sale for retail, grocery, entertainment and many more,” said Stephanie Tarbet. , Vice President of Communications, Brands and Government. business at the tire manufacturer Michelin North America Inc.

The number of stations that include display ads remains low at the moment, but analysts believe it will increase in the coming years as electric vehicle companies seek new revenue streams and federal and state governments roll out billions of dollars to subsidize renewable fuel providers as part of infrastructure investment. and the Employment Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Over the next five to seven years in the United States, there will be many attempts at different business models to try to make charging service profitable,” said Nick Nigro, founder of technology consultancy Atlas Public Policy. “[Advertising] could add much-needed revenue to a business that doesn’t easily break even by simply selling electrons.

ChargePoint’s revenue for the quarter ended April 30 increased 102% year-over-year to $81.6 million, with net losses of $89.3 million. The company is expected to report results for its fiscal second quarter next week. Volta posted revenue of $15.3 million for the second quarter, with nearly 75% of that total coming from ad sales, but also lost $37.4 million.

Kevin Fournier, director of marketing and advertising for the Discount Tire chain of tire stores, said he had entered into preliminary discussions with GSTV about the new product.

“We want to make sure that our current customer base knows we can service EVs as well as their everyday vehicles,” said Fournier, whose company has been advertising on GSTV screens for several years with brands such as PepsiCo. Inc.

and Mexican Chipotle Grills Inc.

Volta, which launched a media network in late 2021 after going public through a merger with blank check company Tortoise Acquisition Corp. II, will be ChargePoint’s most immediate competitor for advertising dollars. Volta has always based its business model on ad sales, and a spokesperson said its network currently includes 5,400 screens and 2,920 individual charging ports in 28 US states and territories.

A Volta charging station and digital advertising display outside an Atlanta area Kroger.


Photo:

Volta Inc.

Charging stations are a natural fit for automotive, packaged goods and entertainment brands, Volta’s Hastings said, citing recent Coca-Cola campaigns. Co.

netflix Inc.

and Fedex Corp.

which ran on Volta screens.

Volta also encourages marketers to use its eight- or 15-second video ads to focus on sustainability messaging, Hastings said. According to Tarbet, a Michelin campaign that ran earlier this year led to a 70% increase in consumer awareness of the company’s electric vehicle-specific tires.

The growth of the industry is based on agreements with major retailers. Earlier this year, ChargePoint said it would install about 60 DC “fast chargers” in Starbucks stores, and Volta signed contracts to build stations in partnership with supermarket conglomerate Kroger. Co.

and the city of Hoboken, NJ

Mr. McCaffrey of GSTV said a key question for malls, cinemas and fast-food chains that ChargePoint and GSTV plan to present is: “How do I start offering EV as equipment to my consumers in a way that becomes affordable and scalable?”

The business models of ChargePoint and Volta differ in several respects. Both say they can target consumers based on geography, demographics and behavioral data, but GSTV says its units won’t collect consumer data directly, while Volta draws first-party data from its mobile application and combines them with the customer loyalty databases of the retail partners. Volta station sensors can also target consumers based on the model of vehicle they are driving.

Both companies primarily manufacture and install Level 2 stations, which allow owners to charge their vehicles while parked for long periods of time, although they also operate a small number of much faster DC stations. You’re here Inc.

dominates the latter market with 14,840 individual ports out of a total of 25,324 in the United States, according to Department of Energy data, and plans to open its charging network to other automakers to apply for subsidies public.

The biggest challenge for these companies may be building enough stations to meet demand. The Cut Inflation Act, which provides twice the amount of public funding made available to electric vehicle charging companies over the past 12 years, will create ‘high sugar’ as they rush to expand beyond major urban areas, said Mr. Nigro of Atlas Public Policy. .

At this time, it is unknown how many other charging station operators will create additional advertising businesses.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has long decried the ad, but Mr Nigro called the company’s network of charging stations “the best form of advertising than anyone”. [EV] carmaker made in the 2010s “for giving consumers more confidence in the convenience of owning an electric vehicle. Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

Write to Patrick Coffee at [email protected]

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