How Companies Like Waze, Lime, and Uber are Utilizing Paid Social

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We analyzed BrandTotal ad data from [March 1 - May 15, 2020] to see how leading transportation companies are utilizing social media in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns

BrandTotal Key Insights

With transportation apps being in the news – for example, Moovit was acquired by Intel, and Uber has been laying off workers – we looked at how the brands were advertising on paid social media over the time period analyzed.

Brands running the most campaigns over the period include Moovit, Google Maps, Waze, Transit, Via, Uber, Lyft, Lime, and Bird. 

These brands primarily targeted the age range of 25-44, with nearly 60% of ads aimed at that demographic. 72% of ads were targeted at males, and over 50% were targeted at people who are married.

Changes in Ad Spend

At the beginning of March, spending was relatively strong – a Waze dark YouTube ad “Bring more customers to your business!” was a key factor in driving this. This peaked on March 8 with a dark Facebook ad from Waze headlined “Take your local business to the next level”. 

After, there was a sharp drop in ad spend, and from March 21 spending was down significantly across the category.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Brands analyzed ran different types of campaigns, across various social media channels.



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This creative campaign features an inflatable tube man whose job has been taken over by Waze. He decides to set up a gym and advertise on Waze. 

75% of Waze ads over this period were dark, highly targeted ads not viewable by the general public.

Google Maps

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Google Maps showcases businesses using their technology. In this case, it’s Fruchti, a Parisian restaurant, that has seen reduced food waste and optimized courier delivery thanks to Google Maps.

The ad makes use of bold yellows and smiling couriers in its ad creative.


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This video encourages people to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. It features a video that doesn’t move, with the tagline, “This video isn’t moving, neither should you”.

This dark Twitter ad received 37.9k likes and 6.4k retweets. Overall, during the period analyzed, 61% of Uber ads were dark ads.

COVID-19 Response Campaigns


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Uber highlighted its offer of 10 million free rides and food deliveries for frontline healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need. This campaign was accompanied by stark black and white images.


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Lyft also showcased their offer: “To make essential trips more affordable for critical workers, we’re offering free scooter trips to first responders, transit, and healthcare workers.”

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Lime too offered free 30-minute rides for medical personnel, public safety workers, and law enforcement workers. Both Lime and Bird ran only public ads (i.e. no dark ads) over the period analyzed.

Transportation apps' use of paid social media

Transportation apps have been significantly affected by the fallout around the coronavirus, and have responded in a number of ways. These included highlighting the good that the company is doing for the community, showcasing local businesses, taking the opportunity to be creative, and using their platform to promote compliance with government regulations.

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