Waze Details Its Ad Strategy for Now & the Future
April 4, 2019 Andrew Cheng

Chances are, you’ve heard of Waze, and it may even be your preferred navigation app. After all, with over 6.3 million monthly active users, it is easily one of the most used navigation apps in Malaysia. That kind of audience also makes Waze an ideal platform for ads, and like it or not, ads have been an integral part of the app for a while now.

That being said, we’ve sat down with Waze for a quick roundtable discussion, and we were assured that the user experience of users is always prioritised in the company’s ads strategy, among other things. Moving forward, you can expect different kinds of ads to be implemented in the navigation app.

Currently, there are several kinds of ads found in Waze. The one you will see the most is probably Branded Pin, which are “digital billboards” of points of interest placed on the map itself. If you click on it, you’ll get more details on the specific location. Not all that intrusive, right?

The next type of ad, however, is much more noticeable. Dubbed Zero-Speed Takeover, a large image will be revealed at the top of the app. If you think this will be obtrusive, well, it is, which is why this type of ad will only be shown to users who have come to a complete stop. Once you start driving, the ad will be closed automatically.

In the interest of safety, all Zero-Speed Takeover ads will not take you out of the app if you decide to interact with it. Rather, you either have the option to save it for viewing later, or add it as a stop in your journey.

And then we have Promoted Search, which will show specific, paid locations right below the search box if you are looking up a relevant term. These ads are marked appropriately, naturally, and it may even prove to be useful – only locations that are near you will be shown.

Last but definitely not least is Nearby Arrow, which shows a Branded Pin the moment you open the app. It’s meant to show users that a specific location is nearby, and considering the fact that it’s only shown when you launch the app, it shouldn’t be all that intrusive.

Of course, either one of these ads can be quite annoying, but Waze did implement a couple of limitations to the amount of ads that are shown in a single session. For example, not more than four Zero-Speed Takeover ads will be shown in a single session. Same goes for Branded Pins: only up to four locations will be shown on the map at any given time.

These limitations are in place to not negatively affect the user experience too much. Just imagine if there’s no limit to the amount of Branded Pins that are shown on the map. The user interface would be way too cluttered to use the app effectively.

In the future, Waze plans to incorporate different kinds of ads to bolster these existing ones. Take the Zero-Speed Takeover ad: Waze is currently working to implement an audio component to it. This will be more interactive – and maybe even more effective – than just a visual ad.

Interestingly, Waze is developing a form of “loyalty targeting” too. If you frequent Starbucks often, the app will suggest recommendations that are tailored towards this. Basically, it’s a form of ad personalisation aimed to “increase frequency with loyal visitors,” as Waze puts it.

This is not strictly related to ads, but Waze is also planning to allow its users to pay for fuel directly from the app itself. In fact, this is very similar in practice to Petronas’ Setel app, which allows consumers to pay for fuel through the app at selected Petronas stations.

Waze’s ad strategy is an interesting one, as it still gives emphasis on the overall user experience of navigating with the app; you won’t get too overwhelmed by ads. The company’s future plans for the app are also quite exciting, especially the prospect of paying for fuel with the app itself.

If these ads are becoming too much of a nuisance, you can always switch over to Google Maps. While you won’t be able to enjoy Waze’s range of community-centric features with Google Maps, you will be free from ads.