The engagement of the mobile consumer is probably the most-chased Holy Grail in the marketing world right now. Too often, brands and their marketers define the archetype as the smart device user with smartphone in one hand and an iPad or laptop on the other. Waze, which has been described as the “world’s most powerful, crowdsourced navigation platform,” just might have changed the landscape again. Its new marketing program, Waze Ads, is targeting one particular mobile consumer right where he is in real time – driving a vehicle behind a wheel. The way it also promotes the services and products of the brands that partner with it is also organic, creative, and non-intrusive.
As Felipe Almeida, Waze global product marketing lead, puts it cheerfully, “Waze Ads does not operate like pop-up advertising. Instead it provides service to users and the opportunity for them to connect to their service providers.”
The consumer that Almeida was referring to are the 2.8-million active users of the platform in the Philippines alone. They use Waze’s navigation in their vehicles from the time that they leave their garages, throughout the day to their various appointments, and finally returning back home.
The opportunity, on the other hand, that he is speaking about is less a traditional advertising pitch than an authentic way to connect the driver to a service he might need at the moment. Or it can provide him an option for a product that he can use later on. For example: the driver going out of town sees on his Waze map the location of the nearest branch of his favorite hamburger chain, which he will pass around lunch time. That notification saves him the time and effort of searching for a restaurant while driving, once 11 a.m. hits.
Almeida names other services and brands that Waze Ads can point the driver to: ATMs should he be strapped for cash; convenience stores where his partner, who is with him, can pick up personal items; and gas stations where they can both load up with fuel. All these are right in the path of the driver in real-time. Once the notify comes online, chances are, he will welcome them as a digital helping hand, instead of a nosy hard-sell ad that invades his privacy.
Almeida points out the advantages that Waze Ads also offers the company and the brand doing the pitching: “The ones who tend to benefit the most are the ones in difficult locations. We know the dynamics of the traffic around their business and help them promote their brands in their environment. We help them understand how Waze is contributing to their foot traffic.”
He adds how Waze levels the playing field for all business owners, “They don’t need to be a big brand. They can be a small restaurant and promote their brand to millions of Waze users.”
Waze Ads has four tools that help the business owner showcase their location to the active driver:
- Branded pin: a perfectly placed digital billboard that reminds the driver that the business is near their route.
- Zero-speed takeover: A large canvas that reveals the brand to the driver when the attention being paid to it is at the highest in real time.
- Promoted search: The business location can be promoted to the top of the search results, including the brand logo.
- Nearby arrow: A well-positioned signpost shown in the moments after opening the app, indicating that the business is nearby.
To date, in the Philippines, Waze Ads has been making a dent in the fast food, fuel, retail, auto, and finance sectors. Waze Philippines active users have grown from 500,000 to the current 2.8 million since its launch four years ago. Next to Manila, Angeles City has experienced the greatest growth, followed by Cebu City. The Philippines also has the highest driver penetration in the region.
Almeida reveals the future plans for Waze Ads: “We will offer ads in a contextual way, offering you what you might need not just based on where you are real-time, but where you are going to. For example, you are driving from one part of Manila to the other, and Waze map already shows you that the traffic is tough and will take hours. Waze Ads can suggest a coffee shop where you are headed to. You just might want to pass the time there instead of slugging through the traffic.”