• Transform magazine
  • August 18, 2019

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Finding the digital way with Waze

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At this week’s Unbound conference, Finlay Clark, UK country manager for driving app Waze talked about smart cities and the integration of computer learning into the app’s model. He said Waze’s open source data allows municipal authorities like Transport for London (TfL) better access to information about crashes and road obstructions. That element of machine learning is improving both the technology and the brand experience.

“We built this brand, this community. We’re partnered with 600 departments of transportation. In London, we’re the number one source TfL gets for reporting incidents,” he said during an interview at the Cannes Lions festival in June. Allowing for open source data also fulfils Waze’s other brand purpose: to make the world better for and because of its users.

One of the ways it’s achieving that is through brand partnerships and offering up Waze as a unique advertising platform. Instead of running banner ads or pop ups, Waze has integrated advertising in a way that is authentic to its offer. It allows companies the opportunity to put their logos on the Waze map, offering drivers bespoke promotions as they drive nearby. “People don’t think these things are ads, they thing Waze is trying to tell them something,” Clark says. “If we do a good job, the ads can aid the user experience.”

For advertisers, it’s good news in terms of ROI as its easy to tell how many users clicked on the logo and then drove to the brand’s outlet through Waze’s analytics. And its a way to increase ‘foot’ traffic in a heavily car-trafficked urban environment. “If they’re visible on Waze, more people will be turning up at their door,” Clark says.

One example of branded content promoted via Waze was during the KFC chicken ‘crisis’ in the UK. When the chain suffered a logistics failure and left many of its restaurants without chicken earlier this year, it pinned the restaurants that did have chicken on Waze.

As Waze, part of the Google family, experiments with new services and promotes its technological development, it works to remain true to its promise of creating a better experience on the road for its users.

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