Ad agency holding group WPP partnered with Waze, the Google-owned social navigation app with more than 100 million users, to help retail brands reach consumers while they drive. The partnership aims to boost store traffic and product sales for retailers in Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, per an announcement.
Stephan Pretorius, CTO at WPP, said the partnership will give the agency’s clients better access to Waze’s software. Waze has several ad formats designed to avoid distracting drivers. Those formats include branded pins, zero-speed takeovers, sponsored search, arrows and voice commands, per Adweek.
Sanja Partalo, SVP of corporate strategy and digital development at WPP, said Waze’s ads have "obvious opportunities" for quick-service restaurants, gas stations and retailers. She wants to build a business for other brands that depend on impulse buys during store visits, per Digiday.
The news points to how traditional agencies are looking to mobile platforms like Waze to place ads for their clients as consumers spend less time with traditional media like TV. WPP, which has been experiencing declining sales, and other agency holding groups have been accused of not moving fast enough to embrace digital technology, something these companies are working to harder to rectify as brands look to other potential partners that have digital know-how.
Reaching consumers as they drive traditionally has been the domain of radio advertising, but the smartphone era has ushered in new possibilities to reach on-the-go shoppers as they commute or run errands. Waze’s navigation app is unique from Google Maps and Apple’s Maps app in urging users to crowd-share information about heavy traffic, accidents and speed traps with other drivers. The greater level of engagement among the Waze community means that they are more likely to see ads from brands and retailers, especially when making impulse decisions about where to buy food, beverages, gas and personal-care items.
Waze has doubled its advertising business to more than 30,000 small and medium-sized businesses in the past nine months, per data cited by Digiday. Its ads also are low-priced, starting at $2 a day for a single business location. Local ads and bigger brands are charged on a cost-per-impression basis. Advertisers typically see a 33% gain in store visits from Waze ad placements, per a pitch deck cited by Digiday.
In-car commerce is potentially a significant opportunity for brands, with 135 million U.S. workers spending an average of 51 minutes a day in their cars during their daily commutes. That time translates into $230 billion of in-car commerce through mobile smartphone or dashboard-based internet connections, per a study from Pymnts.com and P97 Networks. The percentage of commuters who said they connect to the internet while driving rose to about 73% last year from 66% a year earlier, the study said.
Location-based ad personalization has given 91% of U.S. location data buyers a better understanding of their audiences, according to a Factual survey cited by eMarketer. About two-thirds (62%) of data buyers said they experienced more accurate targeting, while 35% saw an increase in store visits, the survey found. That difference may indicate that personalized notifications are more effective when based on past consumer buying behavior rather than a user's current location.