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BlaBlaCar rides to greater returns across the globe on the Bing Network

  Article , Automotive , Success stories

Ridesharing service uses Bing Ads to gain more clicks at lower cost

Delivering passengers and leads


A natter is a mostly British term for an idle, casual conversation. You’ll need to know that if you want to sign up for BlaBlaCar, the world’s largest ridesharing service. The company connects drivers who have empty seats to passengers looking for rides so they can travel together and share the cost of the journey.

“BlaBla” refers to when BlaBlaCar members show on their profiles how chatty they are in the car — and how chatty they prefer their fellow riders. On its website, the company describes each of its three levels of in-car chattiness in three words:

  • Bla: “not very chatty”
  • BlaBla: “enjoys a natter”
  • BlaBlaBla: “won’t stop talking”

As most of us have experienced firsthand, the quality of conversation (or silence) within a car can make or break a journey. Asking members to assess their own chattiness and then select their preference for the rest of their ride is one way in which BlaBlaCar exercises its meticulous attention to detail, a quality that has helped the company attract more than 25 million members and generate more than 15 million app downloads.

BlaBlaCar’s headquarters are in Paris. Its founder — as well as its chief technical and operating officers — are all from France. Founder Frédéric Mazzella thought of creating a ridesharing marketplace when as a student at the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, he couldn’t find a ride home to the French countryside for the holidays.

In the company’s years of business, Mazzella and his team have helped everyone from students (like he was) to retirees find rides home in France and in more than 21 countries around the world, including most European countries, India, Mexico and Brazil.

Bing is really turning into one of our major sources of acquisition.

— Marketing manager Ruchir Gupta, BlaBlaCar

The right tools for the right riders

The right tools for the right riders

From left to right: Frédéric Mazzella, BlaBlaCar CEO and driver of the company’s vision; Francis Nappez, BlaBlaCar CTO and leader of the technical evolution of BlaBlaCar; Nicolas Brusson, BlaBlaCar COO and leader of the company’s international growth.

BlaBlaCar’s attention to detail isn’t exclusive to its profile criteria; Bing Ads helps BlaBlaCar be just as thorough in its search engine marketing.

“Bing is really turning into one of our major sources of acquisition,” says Marketing Manager Ruchir Gupta from the company’s London office, one of 14 BlaBlaCar offices across the globe. To a company that now operates in 22 different countries, a digital marketing platform that delivers consistently is tantamount to a road trip full of easy banter and cheap fuel.

And for BlaBlaCar, different markets mean slightly different products. “We adapt the product depending on the local needs,” says Marketing Manager Alec Dent from the company’s London office. BlaBlaCar’s search ads must reflect these differences, and so the company uses Bing Ads location targeting to target or exclude geographic areas in its campaigns — from countries and states all the way to cities and postal codes.

“One of the other key things about Bing Ads,” adds Gupta, “is you can target people on mobile or on desktop.” And mobile matters; 50 % of BlaBlaCar’s usage is now on smartphones and other mobile devices, Gupta explains. “It’s more last-minute,” says Gupta, “and so we want to encourage people to download our app.” The same Bing Ads feature that enables location targeting lets advertisers adjust their keyword bids according to searchers’ devices, so that ads encouraging customers to download BlaBlaCar’s app are much likelier to appear on searchers’ mobile devices than on desktops.

Connecting drivers with passengers — and pages

BlaBlaCar’s Bing Ads campaigns give the company traffic — the good kind. While its costs are decreasing, BlaBlaCar’s click-through rate (CTR), a metric calculated by the ratio of clicks to impressions (CTI), is increasing. “If you look at the overall metrics, the CTI is increasing and our cost per click is decreasing,” says Gupta.

Those clicks lead to conversions. Why? Dent says it’s a combination of the context of search advertising and the unique audience on the Bing Network, where worldwide, searchers spend 145% more online than the average internet searcher and 44% more than Google searchers. “You’re getting people who are searching for terms that you know are very relevant to your business and your service,” Dent explains, “so you see really good conversion rates.”

It helps when BlaBlaCar can take customers exactly where they need to go — on the road and online. Sitelink Extensions are additional links businesses can include in their ads that take customers directly to specific pages on their websites. “If you think about BlaBlaCar,” Gupta explains, “we are a marketplace — we’re connecting drivers and we’re connecting passengers. So one person searching for travel could go in a car; one person may be looking for a way to travel but they don’t have a car,” says Gupta, “and with Sitelink Extensions, we can take them all to different parts of the website.”

And the best part: Sitelink Extensions are free to activate and include in ads, and the cost per click is the same as clicks on an ad title or URL.

Bing Ads helps BlaBlaCar make that first connection with our customers, which then lets us facilitate those new and exciting connections among them.

— Marketing manager Alec Dent, BlaBlaCar

From result to reflex

BlaBlaCar isn’t the only one saving money. The company estimates its drivers save 216 million pounds (U.S.$312 million) every year by sharing the costs of their journeys with BlaBlaCar passengers, who reimburse drivers for about a third of their total travel expenses. Because BlaBlaCar’s rides are typically long-distance, those expenses can be high. “We’re talking about 200 miles on average,” says Dent. Fuel costs for 200 miles of driving make cost sharing more than just an added perk.

According to Dent, BlaBlaCar’s biggest challenge is “to educate people about this new form of transport and to make it a reflex for when they think about traveling from say, Manchester to London.” With so many new markets — BlaBlaCar entered India, Mexico and Brazil all in 2015 or later — prospective members are still learning. Bing Ads helps BlaBlaCar develop that reflex across countries and continents — and even foster some friendships along the way.

“The really great thing is that when you use BlaBlaCar, you’re always going to meet someone interesting and there is no sort of typical member,” says Dent. “Bing Ads helps BlaBlaCar make that first connection with our members, which then lets us facilitate those new and exciting connections among them.”

Keep reading

See a quick summary of how Bing Ads helps ridesharing service BlaBlaCar reach customers and get solid conversion rates at a lower cost per click.

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