Costa Express: Targeting drivers through location based ads in their sat nav

Costa Express

Waze and Zenith Optimedia won the award in the 'Best Use of Location Based Services' category at the 2017 MOMA Awards. They explain the background, objectives, strategy and results of this campaign that helped make it a success.


During the cold, winter months Costa Express wanted to help fuel Britains workforce, those out on the road who would be in need of a pick me up.

Waze officially opened its UK ad sales operations in 2016, and immediately started talking to Costa and Zenith Optimedia about a partnership. The challenge for Costa Express was primarily location awareness – drivers need to be made aware of where these Costa Express locations are. Therefore Waze ads made perfect sense, as the sat nav app targets drivers on the move, and is the only screen in the car you can reach drivers on. When trying to drive location awareness, there aren’t many more suitable mobile environments to advertise on than a map.

The campaign had a first burst in October, followed by an extended three month run from December until end of February due to fantastic results.

Costa Express and Zenith were fundamentally trying to find out:

  • Do ads on maps increase the number of visitors to their locations?
  • What role does creative and targeting play in impacting this?
  • Do ads on Waze cut through?


There were two main objectives to this campaign:

  • Drive footfall into Costa Express sites.
  • Increase offer & location awareness.


  • Zenith booked the media plan with strict radius targeting (5km) around Costa Express locations.
  • We wanted to target workers, so professional office workers, tradesmen and those doing long commutes.
  • The average commute on Waze is 45 mins, so this was perfect audience fit and it gave us enough time to reach them.
  • The client provided several different creative to test. We specifically wanted to learn if creative influenced the number of visits, and at what different times of day.
  • We agreed to run a brand recall study during the campaign, with a control vs exposed being asked if they had seen ads for Costa / Starbucks / Café Nero on Waze to determine uplift.

Costa Express used all of the native ad units on Waze:

  • Branded Costa Express pins: thousands of Costa Express locations were represented on the map with a logo.
  • Start screen arrow: branded logo appearing in an arrow pointing users to the nearest Costa Express prior to set off when drivers are most engaged with the app.
  • Zero Speed Takeovers: high impact banner displayed when driver is completely stopped at red lights.
  • Search Ads: users searching for destinations would see nearby Costa locations near the street or place.


  • We examined mid flight the various performance of the creative.
  • Analysed performance down to how Shell garages performed vs independents .


Costa’s campaign results (four months):

  • 65k ad engagements; users interacting with Costa advertising on Waze.
  • Excess of 15k re-routes into a Costa, measured by drivers interacting with the ad then driving immediately into a forecourt.
  • 23% of users who interacted with a Costa ad on Waze, visited a Costa Express location (benchmark 5%).
  • Clear winner on creative; with a morning “Get a jump on your day” message driving the most real time reroutes.
  • Brand recall uplift +190% (global average +95%). Users remembered seeing Costa ads on Waze.

Incremental footfall study:

Drivers exposed on Waze were 99% more likely to search and navigate to a Costa location on Waze within a 7 day period after seeing an ad, showing us the ads played a role in driving new people into experience a Costa Coffee.

To find out more about The Drum MOMA Awards visit the website here.

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