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July 7, 2021

Does advertising really work?

Advertising – it’s everywhere. From the moment you wake up and check your smart phone, you can’t escape it. From the internet to billboards, magazines to in-store promotions, today’s society is built on selling through advertising.

According to Forbes, a survey compiled by Reburn and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) calculates the advertising sector is now worth $1.7 trillion worldwide (Dimitrioski, 2019), a much higher estimate than previous calculations. But does advertising really work? Is the investment worth your time and energy?

Does advertising really work?

The power of impulse buys

Psychology Today states that the spontaneous urge to spend money is innate (Graves, 2013). Consumers spend an average of $5,400 per year on impulse purchases of food and clothing, household items and footwear. And according to research, 62% of in-store purchases are made impulsively (Iyer et al, 2019, as cited in Ofori, 2020).

Historically, consumer forecourt visits centered around “distressed” fuel purchases, but in recent years, there has been a marked shift in convenience and to-go culture. It is predicted the contribution of fuel sales will continue to decline, while non-fuel retail offerings will gain prominence, with the market size shifting from $197 billion currently to an estimated $274 billion by 2029 (KPMG, 2020).

To put it simply, it is expected that retail and additional forecourt sales driven by advancing technologies will equate to around 70% of all revenue, with just 20% coming from fuel sales alone (KPMG, 2020). For forecourt owners, using advertising to increase profits through convenience store sales, as well as adjacent services such as car washes, is paramount to business success.

How often have you grabbed a two-for-one deal during a visit to a fuel station or invested in a car wash without having pre-planned it? The typical impulse buyer seeks pleasure in the products or services that they purchase; saving money in a promotional deal or leaving the gas station with a squeaky-clean vehicle appeals to this characteristic. Tapping into the psychology behind impulse buys – and utilizing that knowledge to create advertising campaigns that drive sales – is a sure way to increase profit margins.

Leveraging digital advertising

In the world of advertising, technology is leading the way, and many business frontrunners in the fueling industry now offer in-dispenser media options to bring technology – and sales pitches – to the forecourt. Such solutions are a powerful tool to help increase sales of products and services, and this technology allows fuel retailers to deliver tailored advertisements to their customers while they re-fuel, gaining 3-4 minutes of previously unused advertising time.

Thanks to innovative cloud-based technology, the modern fuel retailer can schedule targeted, event-driven ads to the consumer based on a variety of factors, such as the time of the day or stage of the fueling process. In-dispenser media enables forecourt owners to offer promotions on coffee in the morning, “meal deals” at lunch time and lottery tickets in the evening, as well as advertise adjacent services such as an on-site car wash to increase sales across the forecourt and appeal to the impulse shopper.

Furthermore, digital media enables business owners to make use of many forms of advertising and to stop relying solely on print media, which is time consuming to update and subject to weather variables if hung outside. Video content, when done right, is one of the most powerful ways to increase engagement and drive sales. According to the 2018 State of Content Report, 68% of online consumers say they prefer video over written content, with video ranked as the top-performing format (Zucker, 2019), and around 84% of consumers are convinced to buy a product or service after watching a video (Cueva, 2018).

With dispenser media technology built to support video, retailers can play persuasive motion ads that deliver a greater amount of content in a shorter space of time. Such promotions are particularly powerful for fuel retailers, who only have a few minutes to deliver a successful sales pitch and captivate the consumer as they fill up their vehicle. All this said, it’s not a question of if you can afford to invest in media technology, but whether you can afford not to.

Does advertising really work?

Tips for using ads to drive sales and increase profits

• Tailor your messaging and anticipate your customers’ needs by scheduling event-driven digital advertisements based on the time of day, stage of the fueling process, or even season

• Use video content to increase engagement

• Raise awareness of high-margin items through targeted promotions

• Communicate a short, simple and single message to avoid confusing the customer with multiple call-to-action points.

Does advertising really work?

In summary, investing in digital media to deliver fluid advertisements to your customers and appeal to the impulse buyer is a sure way to boost profit margins through convenience store sales. Advertising really does work – you need only look at your own shopping behavior for proof.

Useful Links

Cueva, Laura, “60 Video Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2018.” Lemonlight, 11 Apr. 2018,

Dimitrioski, Zarko, “How Much Money Is In The Global Marketing Industry - More Than We Believed.” Forbes, 13 Feb. 2019,

Graves, Phillip, “Five Reasons We Impulse Buy.” Psychology Today, 19 Mar. 2013,

KPMG, “Fuel Forecourt Retail Market.” KPMG, May 2020,

Ofori, Godwin, “What Psychology Knows About Impulse Buying In 2020.” New Neuro Marketing, 8 Jul. 2020,

Zucker, Matt, “Where Is Your Video Strategy?” Forbes, 24 Jul. 2019,

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