Will Small and Midsized Businesses Find Their Way to Waze Local?

The navigation app launched with three ad formats

Waze Local enables small and midsized businesses to reach travelers while they're on the road and close to their brick-and-mortar locations. Waze

On Wednesday, Waze branched out into the small and midsized business (SMB) sector with its official rollout of Waze Local, which the Google-owned navigation application has been beta-testing for a little over a year.

Waze Local enables SMBs such as restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores to reach travelers while they’re on the road and close to their brick-and-mortar locations. The goal is to increase awareness of those locations and drive in-store traffic.

“A traffic delay could be the perfect opportunity to entice somebody to take a break, go to the nearest convenience store and get something to eat and recharge, rather than sitting in traffic,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives at convenience store and fuel retailing association NACS. “If the competition is a traffic jam, you have some leeway to delight a customer.”

The ads are integrated directly into the map and navigation experience within Waze, and brands receive access to analytics to help them gauge the success of their campaigns.

“Going back 30 years ago, you stopped at a gas station [to get] directions,” Lenard said. “Today, the directions bring you to the gas station.”

Waze said it has more than 100 million active users who generate more than 50 million reports per month on the app.

More than 3.3 million Waze users visited local businesses that advertised on Waze in 2017—an average of more than 9,000 per day—and advertisers testing Waze Local experienced a 20.4 percent increase in monthly navigations to their locations.

Waze said that every dollar spent on Waze Local enabled businesses to reach an additional 384 drivers.

Matt Phillips, head of Waze Local, said, “We spoke with SMBs and learned that what they care about most is using simple, affordable tools to drive in-store traffic, while having the analytics to understand what worked in real-time.”

There are three Waze Local ad formats:

  • Branded Pin: A pin displaying the location of a nearby store appears directly on Waze’s navigation map.

  • Promoted Search: Brands using Waze Local receive priority ranking in results when drivers search via the app.

  • Zero-Speed Takeover: A “digital billboard” that appears while drivers are stopped, along with a “drive there” call to action that will generate directions to the brick-and-mortar location. Waze said Zero-Speed Takeover ads reach drivers that are 3.1 times further from businesses than Branded Pins do.

There are two packages available to SMBs:

  • Starter: Self-service, available in more than 55 countries and suitable for one to 10 locations. Includes Branded Pin and Promoted Search ads, geographic targeting, email support and billing via credit card, for an investment of as little as $2 per day.
  • Plus: Available with an active sales presence in five major markets—U.S., Brazil, France, Mexico and Israel—and suitable for one to 10 locations and available for up to 50. Includes all elements of the Starter package, as well as Zero-Speed Takeover ads, time scheduling targeting, live support for account setup, phone support and billing via invoice. The investment per day for this package starts at $100.

As far as metrics tracked, Waze Local Starter provides data on metrics including impressions, clicks, navigations, call/URL and info button clicks, while Plus adds history navigations, save clicks, inbox impressions and inbox action clicks to the mix.

Looking to the future, Lenard said, “If Waze has the analytics heft to know when somebody might want something—when they’re hungry, when they’re thirsty, when they need a fill-up—that’s a real powerful combination.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.