Waze Local: A Powerful New Weapon for Your Arsenal
At 6:30 a.m. this morning, I was packing lunch for my two daughters when my phone started buzzing like a hive. SearchEngineLand broke the news that Waze Local had finally launched and the blogosphere took notice. I was so distracted, I almost added my keys to my morning blender smoothie. Readers—this is a big deal.
I Don’t Get It. What’s So Exciting About Waze Local?
Waze Local is an advertising tool platform that small businesses can use to transmit their locations to users of the Waze app. At LinkNow Media, we’re always trying to stay on top of the latest developments in search engine optimization and search engine marketing. When we hear about a new ad platform, we get excited. Waze Local was in beta for most of the last year, but now it’s open to anybody who wants to promote their storefront.
Before this change, Waze was only accepting ads from the biggest of the big companies. If you didn’t have at least 50 locations nationwide or you weren’t in one of the beta test areas, it was tough luck for you. This launch means that no matter how small your business is, you can advertise with them if you’re in one of their service areas. For North American businesses, that’s pretty much anywhere.
Okay, I Understand Waze Local. But You Haven’t Told Me What Waze Is Yet!
Sorry. I haven’t had coffee yet this morning. Waze is a user-developed navigation app that updates routes in real time as you drive around. Google bought Waze in 2013 and unlike Google Maps, it’s designed with vehicle commuters in mind. You won’t find transit directions on Waze; it’s a traffic app that relies on community contributions to ensure their data is up-to-the-minute fresh.
Waze has over 70 million active users and users spend at least 11 hours every month using the app. That’s better engagement than Snapchat, which means lots of potential face time for your business.
What is Waze Good For?
This is an easy question for me to answer because I actually use Waze. Not all of you may know this, but Montreal is hard city to drive around. Not only do we have some of the craziest weather in Canada, but when the snow melts the real trouble begins—construction season.
Like everyone, I have my preferred way to get to work in the morning. But you never know when you could be driving down your usual route and—bam!—a whole section of the road is missing for ‘routine maintenance’. This is a comically frequent scenario during the warm months. I wish I were kidding.
Where Waze comes in is that other users will update the traffic map as they drive around and use the app. If some poor soul already came across a pothole, a dug-up street, or heaven forbid a car accident on their commute, their info syncs to all the other Waze users on the road in an instant. It has suggested alternate routes for me I never would have thought of taking, and I’ve lived in this city my whole life. Waze helps me get to work on time, and it’s an absolute must for trips to the airport.
Having Waze open when you’re in a traffic jam may not help you get out of it faster, but it’ll definitely help other people approaching that area. Waze’s pay-it-forward model is unique and makes using the app feel good.
Not to mention, its user interface is super cute. Smiling cars abound. It’s a minor detail, sure, but it’s amazing how they’ve figured out how to make something as lousy as driving problems seem adorable.
What Can Waze Local Ads Do For Me?
So here’s what’s so cool about Waze Local. If you’ve used Waze you probably won’t need this refresher, but picture this scenario: it’s 6:01 p.m. and you’re looking forward to heading home from the office early. You say goodbye to your coworkers and make record time through the building to the parking lot.
And then you’ve been on the road for all of five minutes when you find yourself in traffic so congested it needs nasal spray. You’re hungry. You’re tired. You might as well have stayed at work if you’re going to spend your entire evening like this. You open Waze to report the jam. A pin pops up with a bright logo, and you see that about half a mile down the road is a restaurant that’s having a takeout special. Perfect. That gets you fed and out of the lineup.
What makes Waze Local ingenious is the fact that ads for local businesses target customers when they’re already out of the house, lowering the threshold for them visiting your location. Especially if Waze has managed to save them some time on their drive—what’s the harm in using those five minutes gained to stop at a locally owned coffee shop?
Even if the potential customer isn’t in the market for what you’re selling that day, it doesn’t matter. You’re creating powerful repeated associations with your business and something the app users do every day—drive to work. That’s worth dollars for every cent you pay.
Don’t take our word for it. According to Waze’s internal statistics, businesses advertising with Waze saw 20 percent more visits per month. Do you see why I was so excited this morning?
What Sort of Ads Does Waze Local Offer?
Waze Local is rolling out three different ad schemes for users of Waze Local. First is the Branded Pin option, which places your logo on the map as users drive by it. Click on the logo and more information pops up, such as business hours and phone numbers. Depending on the business type, this may be all you need to increase navigations to your storefront—if your logo is a person drinking coffee, it won’t be a hard sell to get sleepy commuters to your door.
Our next option is Promoted Search, which operates like Google AdWords—your business will land at the top of the search result for a given search. If you have a niche business that customers in your area are searching for, this could be a really powerful tool for you.
Drivers won’t automatically seek out a hardware store if they happen to see a logo, but they absolutely will search for hardware stores when they are running errands. We already know how powerful AdWords conversion rates can be. Coupling that with an app that is designed to be used when you’re out of the house has the potential to be massive for small businesses.
The final ad type Waze Local offers is the most aggressive, but it’s also costly, not to mention potentially intrusive. Zero-Speed Takeover displays your ad over the whole app when the user has come to a complete stop (for safety reasons, it’s not a great idea to play ads when the vehicle is moving). Consider this the Waze equivalent of bumper ads. The pros of this strategy seem obvious to me. But I do worry if this won’t create negative associations—if I saw an ad for the same chain every time I hit a red, I’d be annoyed.
Zero-Speed Takeover advertising is only available to users of Waze Local Plus. This means that you need at least 10 and no more than 50 locations to be eligible. This might be restrictive enough so that it won’t matter to most small businesses, but it’s definitely worth noting.
Is Waze Local Right for my Small Business?
So, I’m obviously pretty excited about this. But now that I’ve gone over Waze Local and some of its features, I should add something. Waze Local isn’t right for every business. Not every small business is poised to gain from every new addition to the online marketer’s toolkit. And if you’re managing your web design and marketing yourself, don’t spend a fortune on ads without being sure they’ll generate good conversion for your dollars.
A Simple Rule of Thumb
I’m giving this its own header because it’s that important. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my business have a storefront I want clients to visit?
- Does it make sense that commuters need my services?
These sound basic, because they are. But you shouldn’t advertise your contracting business on Waze unless you have an office prepared to handle visitors. Absolutely do not spam Waze Local with fake addresses. It’s not only irresponsible (and can really turn potential clients off) but it also could be dangerous.
Furthermore, there are some businesses that clients might not want to hear about when they’re on the road. For the love of all that is decent, do not advertise your funeral home business on Waze Local. Let your website and traditional marketing do the work for you.
Businesses Best Set to Benefit From Waze Local
Here’s a short list of the types of businesses that we think are naturally suited to benefit from this powerful geolocation advertising tool.
- Auto repair businesses
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Liquor stores
- Department stores and other retail outlets
- Car dealerships
- Personal injury attorneys
Bumpy Road Ahead?
So hopefully by now you’ve seen some of the power that Waze Local can have in attracting Waze users to your business. This is an exciting time to work in online marketing, but I won’t lie, sometimes it feels like you have to run twice as fast to stay in the same place! A tool may be powerful, but nothing tests it better than experience.
One issue that I’m seeing online is that Waze may actually increase congestion in cities by diverting unsustainable amounts of traffic to side streets and back alleys. This seems to be more of an issue in cities where Waze has higher market penetration, such as New York. But considering that Los Angeles, Toronto, and many other cities are cooperating with Waze to share traffic data, we think it’s a good sign for the future of these apps.
Since Google owns Waze, we can only imagine what’s going to happen if Google starts syncing up its other features with Waze Local results. If Google search histories couple with real-time advertisements in Waze, there’s potential for serious market disruption.
Part of a Comprehensive Strategy
This isn’t, of course, the end-all-be-all marketing tool for small businesses. Regular web searches still account for the majority share of online marketing and we don’t see that changing anytime soon, especially with the rise of voice search on the horizon. Make sure that using Waze Local makes sense for you and your business.
One of Many Tools to Consider
Waze Local is just one of the many options small business owners have available to them. You of course need a website and more traditional SEO strategies before you consider Waze Local. But what this offers is the advent of digital marketing that functions the way direct mail used to (before all the spam).
It’s an opportunity for small businesses to use new technology to promote themselves in ways that feel like natural extensions of their brands. With the many ways new technologies are seamlessly integrating with our everyday lives, more and more of these opportunities will pop up. I’m excited. How about you?
You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
If you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article and still don’t have heads or tails about what I’ve said, consider giving LinkNow Media a call. We keep up with the world of online marketing so you can focus on what matters to your small business. And with our no-contract policy, managing your web presence has never been easier or more risk-free.
Whether it’s building you a website from the ground up or just adding hosting and maintenance to your existing site, we’ve got a solution that will meet the needs of you and your small business. Contact us today!