a busy intersection in Malaysia filled with billboards

There are better ways to engage with your customers than just spending a fortune on billboards. Source: Shutterstock

Advertising on the road without billboards

OUT OF HOME (OOH) advertising traditionally meant billboards, signage on lampposts, and stickers on buses.

In a society where everyone glued to their cell phones, billboards and the likes are more white noise than targeted outreach. Considering the high costs associated with these spaces – some fetching prices of up to US$200,000 per year in Malaysia – traditional OOH advertising is highly inefficient.

To help companies make more targeted outreach while users are on the road, Google’s Waze is allowing businesses in Malaysia to advertise on their GPS navigation platform.

Under Waze Local, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) will be able to increase awareness of their locations, to drive more traffic in-stores.

Similar to physical billboards, advertisements on Waze are meant to act like a mini virtual billboard, to inform drivers about nearby businesses and offers.

By integrating the mini “virtual billboards” on the map, businesses can target their advertisements in relevant geographies, and select peak traffic hours to maximize the reach to customers.

Compared to a static billboard that stays on a single spot, these pop up pointers on a map can help target audiences more efficiently.

In addition, businesses can track and have more accurate data on the number of users who have engaged with the advertisements.

Tracking eyeballs on a billboard was notoriously difficult, as there is no easy way to track if a billboard drew the attention of users.

On top of that, it was constantly a challenge for SMBs to increase awareness of their location, to drive in-store traffic; especially when having to constantly compete against more established brands.

Most advertising agencies based it on estimated footfalls or traffic in a particular area. Some use advanced technologies including artificial intelligence or visual recognition to track if people actually looked at particular billboards.

Waze’s approach provides local businesses with more relevant and quantifiable marketing metrics, instead of a generic “one size fits all” number.

Previously, Waze Local was only available in North America and Europe, launched in March this year. Now, it’s gradually rolling out the feature across the Asia Pacific, with Malaysia being one of the first to get the feature.

According to the company, Malaysia has the highest number of Waze users in Asia, with around 5.9 million monthly active users. It makes sense to why the company wants to target the Southeast Asian country first for its ad rollout

The feature itself isn’t new. Since 2013, Waze had been working with big brands, allowing businesses to advertise based on location. A small icon pops up when the phone is within the vicinity, prompting users to engage with it.

Using a Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM) model of advertising, Waze Local is a much cheaper option for OOH advertising than traditional billboards. This makes advertising more accessible and efficient for SMBs.