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How Waze are driving the right message home

Car journeys can be stressful, particularly during the holidays, so drivers will appreciate useful suggestions to help them on their way

How Waze are driving the right message home

As I sat on the beach on holiday grabbing the last of summer, I realised I was thinking about the festive season. But more generally, Chris Rea’s classic Driving Home for Christmas, the big shopping days, last-minute presents, forgotten condiments, the long drives and, of course, the advertising opportunities Christmas presents. And then I thought: "I bet I’m not the only one in this industry thinking about Christmas in summer."

For many people Christmas is about journeys, whether existentially contemplating the journey they have taken that year, or practically working out the quickest way to get around the country to visit their far-flung relatives and friends.

With more drivers on the road, there are more opportunities to target them. However, this means more traffic than usual – cars full of kids, pets and presents and that constant underlying feeling of rushing from A to B to D to Z to A again. You have stressed people, uptight people and, most likely, distracted people.

Which is why when targeting drivers at this time, it is imperative that the messaging is not only creative, but useful and helpful. Adding to a consumer’s stress is basically driving your budget down a road to hell.

So much of marketing is over-complicated and so many people in advertising, clients and agencies are too interested in focusing on the ‘who’ and ‘how much’. What they should be thinking about is the ‘where’ and the ‘why’.

For example, research from Google* shows that once they hit the road, drivers are hungry for restaurant promotions: 52% who’d seen one said they’d be more likely to visit a restaurant after seeing an in-app promotion, 45% said they’d go within the week or in a future drive and 14% said they’d go right away or within the next day.

Customer missions in context
By taking this sort of data and adding contextual analysis, you can begin to predict customer missions – the journeys drivers are making every time they get behind the wheel and enter their destination, and why they are going. And the opportunities that delivers.

This can be shown in one simple equation: context of journey (C) + mindset (M) = customer mission (CM) (C+M=CM).

By understanding driver data, using accurate GPS information and layering in contextual signals such as time of day, when in the week, or end location, you can quickly and effectively build profiles of these customer missions and tailor ads accordingly, reaching drivers in real-time, when they are most suggestible and with an understanding of what they want.

You can look at how long drivers have been in the car – knowing whether someone is in the first five minutes of their journey or has been in their vehicle for 90 minutes makes a big difference to mindset. You can then layer in whether the person driving is near their home, work or further afield.

If it’s a long journey away from the regular commute and in the summer, the mission is most likely a holiday. If they are driving to the countryside, there’s a strong chance that they are staying self-catering, so this is the perfect chance for supermarkets to be helpful and useful by letting drivers know where their nearest stores are.

If it is a short journey or the regular commute, supermarkets can target drivers differently. Research shows that two-thirds of workers at 4pm don’t know what they’re having for dinner later. This makes the journey home the perfect time to influence driver decisions.

Marks & Spencer used the Pin and Search functions on Waze to deliver ads at these peak times to drivers nearing their stores to deliver messages about their evening meal deals.

Or, for the morning commute when people are jonesing for a caffeine fix, we worked with Costa Coffee to serve in-app ads promoting its self-serve sites and convincing users to re-route. The one-month campaign drove more than 15,000 reroutes, surpassing all engagement benchmarks.

Because the Waze platform is so interactive we can see when people instantaneously reroute once they have seen the ad because they tap the "drive there" button. With other channels, you very rarely get a consumer seeing an ad and going to that store immediately – let alone telling you they’ve done it.

However, when communicating with consumers through map-based targeting, the real benefit comes by increasing off er and location awareness over time. By placing pins on the map people begin to know where businesses are, and the takeover ads remind people why they should visit – making it useful and helpful in that key moment.

To prove this is incremental, when measuring effectiveness we keep 10% of users back from seeing any advertiser’s ads and look at how those users behave versus those who have seen ads. We call this navigation lift. 

We also examine wider category trends, so we can see how many drivers on Waze visit, say, a Tesco, an M&S or a Sainsbury’s. Thus when an advertiser is running we can prove they take a larger piece of the category market share.

But back to Mr Rea and his specific customer mission. We know when that day that is likely to be this year: Saturday 21, Sunday 22, or Monday 23 December. So, any brand wanting to deliver last-minute messaging can do that. For example, reminding tired Christmas drivers that they can pick up a reinvigorating Lucozade by pinning BP forecourts on the map and serving them an ad for the drink, making it easy for them to reroute.

It’s not just Christmas where being useful and helpful is appreciated by consumers – this approach works all year round. Millions of people make customer missions every day, and each one is an opportunity, as long as you know the context of the journey and the mindset of the driver. 


Finlay Clark is UK country manager at Waze

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