Excellent keynote to start the first day of the BIA/Kelsey conference. Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s CEO, shared with us a lot of interesting data points regarding their business.
- How they define what they do: “connecting people with great local businesses”
- 14 million local reviews as of today
- Top review categories: 26% restaurants, 24% shopping, 9% beauty and fitness.
- Expanding geographical coverage: France, Germany, Austria this year, more coming soon.
- Yelp currently has 39M unique visitors vs. 26M last year (per their Google Analytics).
- Monetization model: video ads, paid (ranking) ads, daily offers (what Stoppelman called the “transaction business”)
The CEO then discussed the main traffic drivers for Yelp mentioning search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and he also listed Facebook as a great source of Web traffic. He talked about how search engine optimization (SEO) in the local space (read Google…), is becoming problematic. He doesn’t think Yelp (and other local media sites) will be able to rely on Google for traffic down the road but the good news is that the industry is heading towards “mobile”. People don’t search on mobile, they use applications. At Yelp, mobile is a startup within a startup and it’s been very successful. 30% of their total traffic comes from mobile now and a business is called every 5 seconds.
He also shared his strategies for driving distribution on mobile:
- Leveraging your web assets
- Store promotion
- Battle for on deck
When prodded at the end of the session, he mentioned that “Mobile is the future of our business”.
What it means: Looking at Yelp, it looks like they are becoming a more mature business (with all the good and the bad that comes with being “mature”). Google’s moves in local is definitely a threat but their move into mobile is creating huge opportunities for them. Monetization is probably still problematic (it’s very difficult to monetize merchant reviews) but “daily offers” might be a great way for them to speed up revenue generation. I think they are a good example of the strategic importance of mobile in local/social.