An Interview with what3words – in More Than 3 Words

An Interview with what3words – in More Than 3 Words

Ever lost an address or had your parcel delivered to the wrong place? Happens all the time, right? In the UK alone, over 5 million parcels were lost or stolen last year – and this is just one of the many logistical bottlenecks that our latest client what3words aims to address.

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what3words is a global addressing company that enables people to identify and share any 3m x 3m location in the world, using just three words. The solution is being used by over a thousand businesses based in 193 countries, and their app is also available in 50 languages.

When a little birdie told us that they had plans to advertise in Germany, we got busy pitching. It was a whole new vertical for our experts and we were curious to learn more about how what3words is reimagining the way we communicate location. Once they were onboard, we worked on the media planning and booking for a 360-degree campaign for TV, print and OOH across Germany. 

For this interview, we spoke with Giles Rhys Jones, CMO at what3words to better understand their solution and expansion plans in Europe. 

what3words launched an OOH campaign in GermanyCould you give us a bit of background on what3words, and the common problems the app aims to solve? 

Of course – what3words has divided the globe into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, and given each square a unique combination of three random words: a what3words address. For example, ///filled.count.soap will take you to the entrance of our what3words HQ in London. It’s an easy way to identify any precise location, anywhere in the world.

The reason our tech exists is because even in the best-addressed cities and countries, street addressing fails to meet the demands of on-the-go services like taxi-hailing, food delivery, same-day deliveries and e-commerce. 

Globally, 70% of addresses will not direct you to the front door, with 74% of people saying guests, services and deliveries struggle to find them. Inaccurate addressing is costly to businesses, frustrating for customers and is hampering innovation.

In the developing world, the need for better addressing is even clearer: the Universal Postal Union estimates that 75% of countries have poorly-maintained addressing systems, or none at all. This obstructs access to healthcare, the ability to register a birth, vote,  open a bank account and to be found in an emergency. 

With our technology everywhere in the world, in cities, on remote islands and even in tents on the Mongolian plains, has an easy and reliable address.

Since you are based in the UK, we’d love to hear more about the strategy behind your German launch. Why did you choose Germany?

Germany was top of our list for various reasons. First of all, it’s a population that embraces efficiency and new technology, so we really felt that our technology could have a positive impact in the market. 

Our own research also found that many people in Germany face the challenges of poor addressing everyday. 73% of the population say that guests, deliveries and services struggle to find their homes, and 51% of people often take calls from lost delivery men

Germany is also home to many of our partners, including globally recognised brands such as Mercedes-Benz and DB Schenker.

Finally, we’ve seen significant growth in Germany; there’s been a 96% increase in app users in Germany over the last year to date,  we have 40 German emergency control rooms now using what3words, and we’ve seen a 71% increase in partners across industries like automotive, e-commerce, logistics, and on-demand food delivery. 

Could you share any learnings from your German campaign so far? Have you been surprised by any market-specific differences with Germany compared to other countries you have previously worked in?

Talking about locations and addressing really varies market to market, and so we have to take a fresh approach each time. As we are still fairly new to Germany, we have found that a multi-channel approach has been very important, alongside consistency in both our messaging and media presence. We are constantly assessing what is working well, and trying new approaches to get the best results.  

what3words partners with many leading brands such as Lamborghini, Dominos Pizza and TicketPass. We would love to know more details about these collaborations – for example, how you decide which brands to partner with, and why you have made partnerships a cornerstone of your marketing approach?

Any business can benefit from what3words in one way or another — whether they’re delivering goods, adding accurate location information to e-commerce checkouts and navigation apps, or simply if they want their office to be easily found. When it comes to our partners, we want our solution to be accessible to everyone, everywhere, so we work with businesses all over the world to help them understand how what3words can benefit their operations and streamline their processes. 

Take our B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) marketing model for example. We help our partners develop marketing content geared towards communicating what3words to the end-user. As a result, we’re seeing some of the most globally recognised brands, like Mercedes Benz, using us as a competitive advantage – and innovation led automakers are taking note. In the last six months alone, Subaru, Lamborghini, VinFast, Volta Trucks and Harman have adopted our technology. 

We have a team of over 150 people spread across 4 different continents, and operate all over the globe to speak to the most innovative and forward-thinking businesses who welcome new and breakthrough technology. We focus on specific verticals like automotive, logistics, ecommerce, mobility, and travel — while also engaging with communities like hiking, horse riding, fishing, and running groups. The ways what3words can be used is so diverse, and that is what makes our mission so exciting.

What else is in store for what3words in 2022? Can you tease any future market entries or product developments?

Our long term goal for what3words is for it to become an addressing system that is globally recognised, so everyone and everything has a simple and reliable address. To get there, we continue to look for ways to innovate, and operate internationally so that our technology is as accessible as possible. A key focus for us this year is maintaining momentum in the logistics and automotive industries. Our solution has the potential to reduce inefficiencies in the last mile for deliveries all over the world, and revolutionise in-car navigation with our market-leading voice capabilities. We hope to see continued traction in this space in 2022. 

We’re also seeing increased organic use of our technology. We’ve found that people find value in, and use our products for those moments when more accurate addressing is needed to find places, things, and other people. Whether it’s to navigate to a hidden gem without a street address or postcode, to meet a friend in a busy park, or to save time in an emergency. We see huge potential for much wider adoption of what3words, so we’ll continue to ensure that our technology is a valuable tool for people all over the world to use within their everyday lives.

Stay tuned to find out more about the DCMN and what3words collaboration! One thing is a given — we’re going places together.

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