Waze partners with WPP to literally drive traffic to retail stores

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The partnership will launch in North America and parts of Europe.


Waze is to Google Maps as Instagram is to Facebook: a younger, sexier brand with more emotional engagement among its users. This morning Waze announced a major enterprise ad deal with WPP that seeks to create a more effective in-car ad platform than radio or out of home.


A global partnership. The collaboration will yield new ad types for WPP’s retail clients with the objective of driving in-store traffic. Out of the gate the partnership will be global, launching in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France and Italy.


Waze currently offers multiple ad formats, including Branded Pin, Promoted Search and Zero-Speed Takeover. The latter is the largest of the formats, which shows up when a car is stopped but disappears when movement is detected. It’s likely that new formats will come out of the collaboration with WPP.


Waze formally introduced ads in March 2018. Dubbed “Waze Local,” they’re available to both small business and multi-location enterprises. Case study data suggests the ads have been effective for marketers. There’s no empirical data on user reaction to the introduction of ads, but anecdotally I have seen broad acceptance.

Ad buying is made directly through Waze and not through Google Ads. Over time, I suspect advertisers will be able to make a combined ad buy just as you can today with Facebook and Instagram.


Broad set of metrics available. Waze reports impressions, CTR, navigation requests, calls, info button clicks and other metrics. Retail advertisers will be able to see the numbers of drivers exposed to ads and how many of them actually drove to stores. However, there will need to be an attribution window (probably 30 days) since people don’t immediately drop what they’re doing and head to an advertiser’s location.


Waze has over 100 million active users and that on average, users spend 11 hours per month in the app. This is the company’s first such partnership with an agency.


Why you should care. It has been challenging for digital marketers to reach people in cars during their commutes or out and about. Out-of-home has been reinvigorated by combining it with mobile-location data and attribution and it’s one of the few traditional media that’s still growing, according to recent estimates from eMarketer. However, it’s far less immediate than ads on your smartphone, on the dash of your car.


Waze ads offer a way to reach consumers with less ad clutter and greater potential receptiveness. Rather than as direct response medium — even though they result in visits and transactions — Waze ads should be seen as a branding and awareness medium, with attribution.

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