What’s Waze, and Why Should I Care?
Waze may be changing the way we think about location-based marketing, so it’s probably worth getting to know the Google-owned navigation app.
Although Waze has over 90 million global users, it’s still the lesser known of Google’s two major navigation platforms, with the “golden child,” Google Maps, being the more popular of the siblings at 154.4 million users.
Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013, does offer a few features that are unique to the platform. It’s based on a community-centered model that allows users to report impediments like accidents, road closures, and police officer sightings and suggest alternative routes. That’s why Google has, so far, chosen to keep the app distinct from the more traditional Google Maps.
Okay, cool, but why should I care?
Well, Waze offers advertising features that local business may find very interesting. Waze will now allow businesses to create geographically-linked ads that appear to app users while they navigate the area. Pretty cool, right?
While there are obvious opportunities for businesses like fast food joints and gas stations to advertise to an on-the-go market, Waze is also looking for new ways to drive foot traffic to other types of local businesses using location-based ads. In fact, earlier this year, Waze partnered with WPP to develop new ad formats, improve ad functionality, and attract new clients to use Waze to market their small business. More recently, Waze announced its intent to shift focus from location-based ads (where the user is currently) to destination-based ads (where the user is going).
Although this may not seem like a huge change, this could actually be the key to increasing opportunities for a greater variety of businesses.
Because the way we shop in recent years has shifted, some Main Street shops struggle to compete with the ease and impulsivity of online shopping, and traditional location-based ads (like billboards) do little to appeal to this “need-it-now” attitude. They rely on the traveler to not only notice the ad (which can be a struggle in itself) but also alter their route to pay a visit to the physical storefront. Again, this approach may work for fast food, gas stations, hotels, and other businesses that appeal to impulse need-based decision-making, but not many people are going to take a detour from their planned course just to visit a local boutique.
Destination-based ads, however, don’t require consumers to veer away from their route. Instead, they show users what else is in the area that they are already planning on visiting. The discovery of a new business suddenly seems like less of a hindrance on the way to a destination and more like an opportunity to sightsee and make the most of their trip.
How does it work?
Currently, Waze ads come in three format options:
- Branded Pin: Think of it like a digital billboard. A branded pin acts as an enticement to get drivers to stop somewhere along or near their route by highlighting local attractions like restaurants, gas stations, and boutiques.
- Zero-Speed Takeover: A large banner ad that is only displayed when the user is not in motion (and when they’re most likely to be paying attention to their screen).
- Arrows: Operating like a signpost, arrows direct the user to take a look at a nearby business as soon as they open the app.
- Promoted Search: Exactly what it sounds like, promoted search sends your business to the top of related search results and displays your logo to make your business stand out from the rest.
Ads start at around $2 per day (operating on a cost-per-impression model), and you can adjust or pause your campaign at any time. It also includes real-time dashboard analysis for each campaign.
In late October, Google announced that it would be introducing a popular Waze feature to its other navigational app, Google Maps. Waze allows users to report accidents, speed traps, traffic stops, and other travel hazards to fellow users, relying on their community to monitor the situation by confirming whether or not the obstacle is still present as they pass by. Soon, that feature will be available to Google Maps users as well.
This social feature, the ability to rely information to fellow travelers, used to be a major distinguishing factor between the two apps, but this update seems to be blurring the line. Perhaps we may see more of Google incorporating features from Waze (like its ad formats) into Google or vise versa. Currently, Google does not share data on its users’ searches with Waze, but that’s certainly something to consider as they continue to redefine and adapt their dueling navigational apps.