Google’s $1.1 billion acquisition of Waze this past summer continues to be big news. Waze, by crowd-sourcing mapping and navigation, is changing how we commute and how we shop. Google wanted Waze since they were both in the Search business. Google searches the web. Waze searches the real world. Unlike Google Maps, Waze’s navigation can be edited by users within its community- adding police alerts, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams. This social mapping content is shared by other drivers, in real time, and is very valuable: drivers already use it on a constant basis to find the cheapest gas stations on their routes. By joining forces, Google Maps/Waze combines the power of Google’s individual user data, search history, and Google+ social data to offer laser targeting recommendations and advertising.
For OEMs and automotive dealers, this has several implications. First, the OEM or dealer that dominates the search and mapping screens on smartphones and tablets, along with providing targeted ads based on the users’ intentions, will win. Second, for OEMs and dealers layering customer data onto the new database, the mobile search experience will direct consumers to local dealers for service or sales. Third, consumers shopping for cars can be alerted when matching inventory is nearby, or offered fixed ops deals or incentives. Fourth, OEMs will want to rethink current GPS strategies, opting for a Google/Waze GPS that’s tied to the consumer’s social network and search preferences. This provides a more robust experience to both the OEM and local dealerships, with the opportunity to create targeted advertising to consumers during the moment of decision. If combined with vehicle telemetrics systems, this software-based solution could determine service needs (oil changes, vehicle recalls, etc) and prompt drivers to local dealerships running special promotions through Google/Waze.