You Might Like Waze: by John Young
If you haven’t heard of Waze, you are not alone! Waze is a mobile device (phone) app you can use for navigation. It is somewhat similar to Google Maps or Apple Maps. You can enter your destination, and it will give you accurate, step by step instructions on how to proceed to your destination.
Doesn’t sound like anything that is new or exciting yet. But, there are a few significant differences between the traditionally used navigation apps and Waze. In this article, we will look at a few new aspects of Waze and how they have an unusual business plan!
First, you download the Waze app from your favorite mobile device store (iTunes or Google Play Store). Waze is a free app, and you can use it without creating an account. That is a nice feature so you can try it out before creating an account. You can create an account with your Facebook profile (and it won’t post as you on Facebook), so you could take advantage of some of the neat social sides of Waze.
The social side of a navigation app? Yes, Waze is different because they are not selling navigation. They are selling community. They are selling you a community (you aren’t paying by the way) of information on travelers who are sharing information on how to make your trip a better experience. Users can log where traffic accidents are slowing traffic, if there are construction zones, or if there are hidden police in the area. All of this information is easy to share by users and shows up on your map as your near those areas in your travel. “There is a car on the side of the road ahead” is a common notification and very helpful when driving at night! Waze is continually updating their maps and system due to user’s input which makes it a much better system for today’s traveler.
With the Waze app, once you have connected via your Facebook profile, you can follow your friends, and you can connect with them and follow their progress as you all go to a specific destination. It would make meeting at a baseball game a bit easier as you see where folks are and when they arrive!
Another user-friendly feature is the audio commands it gives for turns and navigation. All systems have a level of this, but with the Waze system, it will give you additional information on which lane you should be in and which side the exit (for freeway travel) will be on as you near your turn. This is very helpful when driving through unfamiliar metro areas.
All of this is very nice and appeals very well to the younger driver. The average Waze user is under 45 or more advanced in their tech use. The highest percentage of users are under the age of 30 with the 20-25-year-old age range as the highest demographic using Waze.
Now, the business side. These neat applications are great, and this one has a ton of ability to be helpful, but how are they making money?
Waze does this with Waze Local. As a local business, I can buy pins which will show up on users’ maps as they navigate near your location. Driving through a new town and aren’t sure what is in town for food? Well, McDonald’s has purchased pins for all of their stores around the country so that they will show up on your map. As you can see in our image, Sinclair gas stations have purchased pins so you can find them in towns as you go through) but, as you can see from the map, the actual location might not always be accurate. Pins start around $2.00 a day for a local business. As a business that would benefit for spur of the moment type stops or is a necessity for travelers, having your pin on Waze might be a great way to reach the under 40 crowd.
Waze is a free app for us to use just like Facebook and Google; and just like those free applications, WE are the product being sold to advertisers. In this case with the functionality and ease of use of the app, I think I am ok being sold once again to advertisers.