Do Waze Ads Work? A Marketer’s Guide

January 3, 2022

Justin Kerby

Do Waze ads drive performance? <— (see what we did there 😏)

First of all, if your brand is not a gas station, restaurant, coffee shop, bank, auto dealer, or grocery store….the answer is probably no. If by chance you are in one of those categories though, it’s an interesting play.  

Waze (now owned by Google) is one of the fastest-growing apps, boasting 29 million active users in the US who spend over 10 hours in the app every single month. The app has picked up a ton of traction because of two main features:

1. It tells you where to watch out for the police (and which intersections have red light cameras)

2. It provides you with the absolute fastest way to get from point A to point B (even if that route is through an abandoned mine shaft or your neighbor’s backyard)

A less popular feature with Waze users that is prominent on the app today is advertising. Unlike Google Maps or Apple Maps, when you launch Waze and begin driving, ads pop up on your screen as you go. Most of the ads are for big brands like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Chevron, but more and more small businesses are throwing their hats in the ring as well.

Waze Advertising - does it work - something great

Do they work?

Again, assuming you’re in the right industry, Waze ads show promising returns. Search Engine Land recently highlighted an interview with Dave Gruhin, a Kia dealer from Ohio. He told them that Waze local ads alone accounted for a 57% increase in service leads for his business. That translated into 120 additional repair orders per month, – $125,000 in repair revenue.

It’s not just car dealers reporting these kinds of numbers. Businesses ranging from restaurants to dollar stores have also seen great success. Take a look at these testimonials:

“We had hundreds of interactions on Waze in a month with a 15% action rate, which is great. Waze ads were really easy to set up and roll out.” -Dyana Lovold, Marketing Director at Curry Up Now

“Throughout Q2, we saw 400+ navigations to our restaurant. What I like most about using Waze is the increased visibility for my business.” -Claire Pace, Marketing Director at 101 Steak

“On average we see 40 navigations per month and that directly translates to sales.” -Mai Shi, Marketing Manager at Kung Fu Tea

Now, onto the negatives…

Waze Safety Concerns - something great

Safety concerns

We can think of a few. Here’s the big question: is it safe?

We’ll let you be the judge. Waze has three main types of ads, two of which are probably okay and one that is questionable:

#1. Promoted Search

When someone begins searching for a destination, advertisers can choose to pay for placements within Waze’s search dashboard. Safe enough.

#2. Zero Speed Takeover

When you’ve come to a complete stop, Waze allows advertisers to show prominent ads that take up a portion of the screen. They can highlight deals and offer users directions, should they be looking to change their route (when you need a donut, you need a donut). This is also probably safe enough.

#3. Branded Pins

This is the questionable one. These are pins that display on the map when you’re in the vicinity of an advertiser’s location. They’re literally there so that drivers will look at their phones, interact with the pins, and adjust course. Effective, but they do somewhat encourage distracted driving.

Other potential pitfalls

There are three main reasons we only recommend Waze ads to a particular type of business.

  1. Branded pins are extremely easy to miss since drivers are paying attention to the road
  2. Passengers almost never see the ads
  3. Drivers typically have somewhere to get to, which is why they’re using Waze in the first place


If you’re a highly location-based, impulse-oriented business – give Waze ads some attention. You can start your campaign for as little as $2 per day, so there’s not much to lose.

If not, keep on driving.

Looking to up your marketing game? Check out our list of 50 tools and apps that can grow your business.

Written by

Justin Kerby

Justin is the founder of Something Great Marketing, leading our Vancouver marketing agency. He specializes in content strategy, website design, and branding.

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