Summer Means Long Road Trips, and Now More Ads in Your Navigation Apps

Summer Means Long Road Trips, and Now More Ads in Your Navigation Apps

Google Maps and Waze roll out new ad options

Summer is the time for travel for workers in North America and Europe, and as they hit the road this year they’ll likely see more advertising in their navigators. Google Maps and Waze recently introduced new advertising products, meaning in-map advertising is now easier to buy for a wider variety of marketers.

And right now, a lot of folks are hitting the road, in need of coffee or a good place for lunch. A 2018 AAA survey expected 5% more travelers this year during key weekends, such as Memorial Day and July 4th. And although a record number of travelers will fly this summer, according to an airline trade group, most travelers will drive. The AAA expects that in 2018, 64% of families traveling at least 50 miles for a vacation will drive.

Most of these drivers will use navigation apps. eMarketer estimates that 66.0% of US smartphone app users use a map or navigation app at least once per month.

According to a July 2018 survey by The Manifest, 87% of navigation app users access them for driving directions. And among those apps, the big leader is Google Maps—with more than four times as many monthly users as runners-up Waze (also owned by Google) and Apple Maps.

eMarketer's latest report, "Maps and Navigation Apps: Discovery, Exploration Features Open Up Ad Opportunities," explains the new ways marketers can reach these users while they are using these apps.

The two leading navigation apps are also the leaders in map advertising. Google has offered advertising within Google Maps since 2016, when it introduced search ads and Promoted Places, a branded pin that app users would see along the route. Waze introduced ads in 2014 and has even more advertising products.

Although Google Maps ads already account for roughly 6% of brand queries on the Google platform, according to Merkle, Google is introducing new tools to make advertising on maps easier. At its Marketing Live event in July 2018, Google introduced Local Campaigns, which will do for local ads what universal app campaigns did for install ads—namely, turn the decisions over to Google. Advertisers just need to provide a budget, local business information and creative elements, and Google’s machine learning will optimize them across its platforms. Combined with other moves that appear geared toward increasing ads for non-brand queries, it’s likely that we'll see ad volume increase on Google Maps.

Waze expanded access to its advertising platform to small businesses in March 2018, which should expand opportunities on that site as well. Together, the new ad opportunities will likely mean more ads during your summer trips.

In the latest episode of "Behind the Numbers," eMarketer analyst Yoram Wurmser talks about the various advertising and marketing opportunities in the major map and navigation apps. "Behind the Numbers" is sponsored by Mower.

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