C-Stores Are Critical in Locating Missing Children

GSTV displays missing children posters to a potential reach of 96 million Americans.

January 11, 2022

GSTV Screen on Gas Pump

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—GSTV has partnered with NACS and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to display missing children posters on gas-pump screens across the country, reports Ad Exchanger.

GSTV operates a national digital out-of-home network of pump-based screens at convenience stores and service stations. There are more than 22,000 participating stations across the U.S., which gives GSTV’s network a potential reach of 96 million—more than 1 in 3—American adults each month across 48 states.

Gas stations are one of the few places where missing children are sighted. Kidnappers or other predators stop there for gas. Runaways often come inside to use the bathroom or buy a snack.

Since 2019, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has been partnering with GSTV to display missing children posters on gas-pump screens across the country.

“Missing children cases happen in the blink of an eye, and every moment is crucial to recovery,” said Callahan Walsh, executive director of the Florida branch of NCMEC.

GSTV’s video network enables targeting using IP addresses down to the specific gas station level, which means it’s possible to publicize the faces of missing children in near real time by state or region.

In one recent case, a child actually saw a poster of themselves on a GSTV screen. The child did not fully understand that their family was looking for them. The child called in, and it was a safe recovery and reunification. One-hundred fifty-four of the 243 missing children featured on GSTV displays have been recovered.

“At any given time on a single day, missing children posters are running across around half of our network across 25 states, and it changes rapidly based on shifting needs,” said Violeta Ivezaj, senior vice president of business operations at GSTV.

Beyond being able to swiftly distribute digital posters, GSTV is able to quickly take images out of circulation once a child has been recovered or a case is closed—which is very different from the classic milk-carton method.

When a child goes missing, Walsh said, “you want as much attention on them as fast as possible.”

“That’s why we send our most critical cases to GSTV,” Walsh said. “Certain cases don’t get traditional media attention unless there’s a break, but GSTV doesn’t care—we tell them which cases we think need attention, and they go up on the network right away, including older cases,” he said.

NACS has partnered with several anti-human trafficking groups and has more information on how retailers can make a difference at Human Trafficking | NACS (convenience.org).