Waze Partners With WPP to Make Delivering In-Car Ads to Drivers Easier for the Agency’s Retail Clients

Sounds distracting, but the app insists it's safe

Waze and WPP partner to deliver retail ads to app users while they drive. Getty Images
Headshot of Lindsay Rittenhouse

Waze, the Google-owned social navigation app, has announced a partnership with WPP to make it easier for the holding company’s retail clients to exclusively target drivers with their ads.

The “in-car platform” is designed to direct drivers, of which more than 100 million access the app per month, to retail stores through “en route messaging,” according to a statement. It launched initially in Canada, France, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.

According to Waze, the platform will also provide “insight into how, when and where people are engaging with brands during their drive, providing further value to clients.”

Sound distracting, intrusive and dangerous? Waze insists it’s safe.

In an email to Adweek, a representative for Waze said the ad formats, of which there are four, are “designed to be entirely assistive and nonintrusive.”

Those formats include a “branded pin,” which is a marker inside the navigation map alerting drivers to a nearby retailer. When drivers click on the pin, it provides information on the brand’s promotions, offers, products or services and schedules, according to the representative.

The “zero-speed takeover” format allows retailers to deliver full advertisements on the app with directions to the nearest stores relative to the driver, but will only display when the car is completely stopped. “Sponsored search” features the logo of a brand with additional information available at the beginning of search results. “Arrow” is a brand logo that appears on the map and points to nearby “points of sale” that the driver can reroute to.

The “voice command” allows brand characters (recognizable ones) to “impact consumers” while using the Waze app and “guide them through their route,” according to the representative.

“WPP already brings the most creative, technology-led ideas to our clients to generate growth,” WPP chief technology officer Stephan Pretorius said in a statement. “Through our innovative partnership with Google, we’re now able to give clients exclusive access to Waze software that puts them in the driving seat to influence the shopping habits of the future.”

The partnership, according to WPP and Google, came out of one of their Swarm sessions, a series of hackathons that WPP and Google engineering host that provide answers to client challenges from a variety of creatives.

“We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate closely with WPP and its global client base, sharing best practice and creating optimal solutions to drive in-store foot traffic for WPP’s many consumer product clients,” Samuel Keret, global director of Waze ads, said in a statement. “This is the first collaborative relationship Waze has undertaken with agency partners to explore and identify shopper marketing-specific creative solution needs.”

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.