Waze Local Shows How It Drives Traffic During Small Biz Week — With A Drone

The SMB-focused marketing offshoot of the Google-owned navigation app will have a drone hover over El Huero Grill in Los Angeles to showcase its hyperlocal ad tools.

Waze Local is celebrating the first month of its full release to the SMB marketplace as a hyperlocal marketing platform and Small Business Week by handing out free tacos on Friday May 4th at Los Angeles eatery, El Huero Drive-Thru Grill.

Small Business Week is sponsored by the federal government’s Small Business Administration, which provides consulting and loans to local, independent shops and entrepreneurs.

For Waze Local, which offers ad products to SMBs on the Google-owned crowdsourced navigation app, Small Business Week presents an early opportunity to show how it’s serving brand like El Huero.

“We’re really proud to support Small Business Week because local businesses are a key ingredient in creating communities, in job growth, and they’re recognized as a key economic engine,” said Matt Phillips, Head of Waze Local. “And our mission is to support those kinds of businesses, like El Huero, which has been an early advertising partner of ours.”

The hyperlocal marketing program began in Waze’s home country, Israel, in 2016 and has been in beta for a little more than a year. While Waze isn’t revealing how many marketers have tested Waze Local, it did say that in the U.S, businesses advertising on Waze Local saw a 20.4 percent increase in monthly navigations to their locations.

One other Waze Local beta tester, NYC-based Kung Fu Tea, which has about 150 franchises in the U.S. Australia, Canada, and Vietnam, saw a 30 percent increase in navigations to its Springfield, IL location as a result of using the platform’s ad units.

The three ad formats are Branded Pins, which highlights a store’s location on the Waze map to drivers within a set radius; Promoted Search, which gives priority ranking to advertisers whose keywords match what a Wazer is looking for (“Where’s the best lunch special near me?”); and the Zero-Speed Takeover, a billboard that appears across the app’s entire screen when a car comes to a complete stop and disappears automatically when the car is in motion.

There are also tiers for SMBs of different sizes: the “starter” program is for businesses with one to 10 locations and starts at $2 a day and is limited to Branded Pins and Promoted Search; the “Waze Local Plus” offering includes the Zero-Speed Takeover and live support for $100 per day.

“The main things that I want small businesses to know is that Waze Local is designed with a small business in mind,” Phillips said. “We are driving customers to their store. There’s a lot of solutions to drive customers to the website, but what small businesses told us is, they want customers in their store. We designed Waze Local to do that. We also designed it to be very easy to set up, in most cases, within two or three minutes.”

In addition to free tacos and Waze Local swag being handed out at El Huero, a real-life Waze pin will hover above El Huero’s location via drone, to direct traffic to the Mexican-American restaurant.

Waze Local will continue its small business outreach after the week is out in a partnership with Google, where the two will host 90 different workshops across the country.

“Our launch was a resounding success,” Phillips said. “We have had more advertisers and small businesses join our platform in the past month than we’ve ever had. We’re experiencing a hyper-growth curve now, because small businesses see the value we offer. They understand that while there are many different platforms out there,  Waze Local is unique in its ability to drive customers to their store.”

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.