By: Brigette Houghton Erique L’Heureux
People have always wanted to know the best way to get from point A to point B. As maps are phased out and our cars and driving habits seem more and more dependent on technology, people are looking for the best driving app on the market. But how do you evaluate that? Is it the app that consistently gets you there the fastest or maybe just the one with a funny computer generated voice to keep you company on those long road trips. The answer, in my opinion, is the one with the most up to date data. How many times has your GPS told you to turn down a city street that was closed for repairs leaving you in that terrible state of driving purgatory while the GPS reroutes. With the driving app Waze bad data is a thing of the past.
What is Waze:
“Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute. Waze. Outsmarting Traffic, Together.”
Waze versus Other map apps:
They reason why more people are choosing Waze over other navigation apps is because Waze is interactive with a community. While these other map apps may get you to your location, they may not tell you how much traffic you will get stuck in along the way. They also might not inform you of police speed traps. Waze is the app that can do it all and then some. Waze can give you multiple route options, inform you on how heavy the traffic is in certain locations, can tell you about road work ahead, and can warn you of a police officer ahead! Waze’s maps are constantly being edited by its users as roads are being closed and built in different directions. It can do all of this, and you can also connect to your Facebook friends to see if they are in your area, and where they are as long as they are connected as well.
Waze is a community based navigation app that was created in 2006 in the country of Israel by Ehud Shabtai. The company was originally called “FreeMap Israel”. The name did not last long, and two years later they changed the name to Waze. In 2013, Facebook tried to buy Waze for $1 billion when they only had 36 million users, but Waze decided not to take the deal because they did not want to have to move their headquarters to California; they wanted to stay in Israel. Later in the year, Google offered Waze $1.3 billion, and offered them to keep their headquarters in Israel, but to have some offices in California. From the time Facebook placed an offer to the time Google placed their offer, the amount of Waze users increased from 36 million to 50 million users.
The fun thing about Waze is that by connecting with your friends on Facebook, you can challenge them with the number of miles you drive, and boost your rank within the app. The higher your rank, the harder it is to remain there though! This aspect of gamification provides a social incentive in addition to the functional one. When users can complete milestones and see how they stack up against others they want to open the app on more of their drives to increase their score.
As mentioned before, Waze allows you to stay connected to your friends, and your community. If there is a better way to get somewhere, you can edit the map to come up with the better route, and you can share it with the community. If you are stuck in traffic, let the other users in your area know so they do not have to get stuck in it as well. And, if you are attending a Facebook event that your friends are also attending, you can connect to Waze and see what their estimated time of arrival is, or you can pick them up along the way.
Waze also has a self-serving ad buying page where businesses can buy “location pins” to advertise their businesses whether they be local or chain businesses. Waze sells these location pins for $1 per 1000 pins. Big chain companies like Shell, Starbucks, Wyndham Hotels, Yum Brand, Dunkin Donuts, and AT&T are just a few of the chains that have location pins on Waze. This may be a risk for Waze because of the fact that these large companies can take advantage of the fact that the location pins are such a small price compared to the rest of the companies expenses. However for companies buying the pins a service that literally directs people right to their front door is indispensable. It solves the marketing problem of location. A small business without the capital to open a store on a main road can buy a pin and have every waze user in the area still know where they are located. A person can travel down the same street every day their entire life and not realize that there’s an amazing business on the next street over. Now with Waze they can! Waze has also introduced another channel of advertising that they call “Ad Takeovers.” This is a pop up that is intended to be unobtrusive to the user while they are driving. Accordingly they only appear before the user starts driving and after they have been stationary for more than five seconds. These pop ups use the location data provided via the user’s phone to target consumers geographically. Brick and mortar businesses can buy ad takeovers so that consumers in their area are exposed to their brand. It wouldn’t make much sense for McDonald’s to advertise to drivers when the closest store is fifty miles away. Waze’s location data eliminates this problem and ensures that business will experience a greater return on investment for their marketing dollars. Waze has also found a way to incorporate other types of data to enhance its marketing capabilities. Dunkin Donuts, who was one of the first companies to adopt Waze’s marketing, uses both weather and time data to tailor its advertisements. In the morning when it is cold they can push ads for hot coffee and in the warmer afternoons they can offer coupons for a sweet frozen drink. This targeted approach further increases the return on investment that marketers will find appealing. The future of Waze’s growth in the marketing will depend on the level of data that they can provide. Users can already sign into Waze via Facebook and the prospect that Waze could add Facebook data into its arsenal could present some interesting possibilities. Marketers could possibly find out the interests of people who are close to their businesses and make it even easier to get people in through the front door.
A risk that could hurt Waze is that the app may promote texting and driving; although the app can recognize if you are in a moving car. And if you are, there is a window that can pop up that basically tells you to pull over in order to use the app. This pop up window gives the user the option to say if he or she is a passenger in the car. The driver does have the ability to bypass this window by falsely indicating that they are the passenger and are capable of safely using the app. It’s a widely known fact that humans really are awful at multitasking and the use of mobile devices while driving has been linked with numerous, needless deaths and even more non-fatal accidents. If there is ever any indication that a driver was hurt or injured while using Waze they no doubt will take a serious PR hit. Any brand that looks to utilize Waze’s marketing aspects need to seriously consider if their brand image is in line with a driving app that could be the center of some controversy.
Alternatively, another aspect of Waze that is steeped in controversy, is the app’s function to identify the location of traffic officers. The same way that users can identify hazards and traffic on the roadway gives them the ability to identify where there are police cruisers parked. The function’s purpose is to help Wazers avoid speed traps which could ultimately lead to a hefty fine. A good idea for those of us who like to get from place to place a little faster than the law allows. But it also disarms and even endangers police officers and their ability to effectively do their job. Police officers aren’t just on duty to ruin our day with a speeding ticket, they’re there to enforce the law and protect society. Suppose that a drunk driver opens up Waze and sees that there is a police checkpoint so he decides to take another route. He endangers himself and everyone around him and Waze has granted him the opportunity to avoid getting caught. Police officers all over the country have already expressed that they want an end to this function. Afterall, people who would otherwise break the law as a rule tend not to do it when they know there are police officers around. Waze has steadfastly neglected to make any statement in response to the controversy surrounding their police function. One can’t be sure if this is because the company recognizes the negative implications and simply won’t address them. The function is very unique to anything on the market and the draw that it provides to consumers is understandable. Download a free app and possibly avoid a two-hundred dollar speeding ticket? Sounds like a good investment to me. But likewise as with the risk of distracted driving brands need to consider the possibility that a PR disaster or even federal regulation could cost Waze its customer base and leave people invested in their marketing out to dry.
Marketers are always trying to reach consumers on a more personal level. Big data is the future of finding out exactly who your customer base is and how best to reach them. The location based data that Waze provides opens horizons for brands to completely change the way they bring people into their stores. We could see Waze bringing about the end to those giant inflatable tube men or people who spin signs outside of businesses as the app does all the work for you in bringing customers right to your door.