Waze Local makes it easy for small businesses to advertise on Google’s Waze app

Waze, the community-driven navigation app owned by Google, is making it easier for local businesses to advertise on its new Waze Local platform. But don’t get your pitchforks out to try and kick advertisers off your app — these type of advertisements have already been available on Waze for enterprise customers. The company is now simply focusing its efforts on launching tools and services specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.

In 2017, Waze said more than 3.3 million of its users visited local U.S. businesses that advertised on the app. When the app was in beta last year, the company found that U.S. businesses advertising on Waze Local saw a 20.4 percent increase in monthly navigations, or visits to the store.

If you use Waze, there are three types of ads that you’ve likely seen in action already. The core format is Branded Pins — these are pins that show up on the map indicating a specific business. Waze said only three show up at a time so your map doesn’t look cluttered, and they only appear for places you are near. Tap on one of these pins and you can get details about the business such as operating hours or a phone number, and of course, you’ll be able to navigate to it.

Small businesses can also pay to appear at the top of search results in Waze through Promoted Search (these are labeled as ads just like in Google Search). The more interesting ad format, however, is Zero-Speed Takeover banner ads. These ads, which have been in use already, take up the top half of your phone’s screen only when your car comes to a halt. They disappear as soon as your car starts moving. These ads are also proximity based, and they’re meant to be used when a small business wants to advertise a particular promotion or event. These banner ads have a wider reach — literally — as they go 3.1 times further than the Branded Pins from the businesses’ location.

Waze said small businesses can get set up on Waze Local in 5 minutes, touting the simplicity as a boon for businesses that don’t have large marketing teams. Through a dashboard, these small businesses will have access to data such as impressions, clicks, navigations, and more. There are two options: Waze Local Starter and Waze Local Plus. The starter option lets you start advertising on the platform for as little as $2, whereas the Plus version starts at $100. Zero-Speed Takeover ads are only available on the Plus option, along with live support for businesses that may need help.

“If you want to reach local drivers, you really have two options: The radio — ads on the radio — and billboards on the side of the road,” Matt Phillips, head of local SMB for Waze, told Digital Trends. “Both of which provide very little, if any, information back to the business owner. They don’t know how many people listen or saw the ad, they are expensive. If you are a small business owner and you want to change the billboard in the afternoon to promote iced coffee, it can be extremely expensive. With Waze, we track and collect information back to the advertiser using our Waze Local dashboard. They can then optimize their campaigns quickly and easily.”

When asked whether some of these advertising methods, specifically Zero-Speed Takeover, will be seen in Google’s other navigation service — Google Maps — Phillips told Digital Trends there’s nothing in the works at the present time.

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