Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp's CEO): "Mobile is the Future of our Business"

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
  • Partnerships
  • 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.

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Is There A Mobile-Only Yellow Pages Company in Our Future?

YellowPages.com.au mobile advert

Flickr picture by Dale Gillard

The Yellow Pages Association just released new ComScore data regarding business directories access on mobile. Excerpt from the press release:

The number of mobile subscribers accessing business directories on a mobile phone increased 14 percent year-over-year to 17.3 million users in March 2010, extending the reach of Internet Yellow Pages beyond the personal computer. This increase outpaces 10 percent growth in the number of mobile media users who browsed the mobile web, used applications or downloaded content during the same time period.

US Mobile Local Audience

In addition, the data shows that while mobile browsing (10.8 million subscribers with 21% year-over-year growth) is still the most popular way to access business directories on mobile, applications are used by 4.2 million subscribers and are showing a 42% year-over-year growth. SMS is the other popular method.

Mobile Browser vs. App Access

What I think is the most exciting news in the release is the demographic profile of those users. “58 percent of those who access Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device are 34 or younger.”

What it means: following my last blog post about GPS inside mobile devices (see Four out of Five Cell Phones to Integrate GPS by End of 2011), the rise of smart phones, the future explosion of Android phones, and the interesting demographics of mobile business directories users, I have to ask: can mobile become the platform of choice for a directory publisher in the future? What would it take? The survey says “The number of people accessing Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device at least once per week increased more than 16 percent year over year to nearly five million in March 2010.” That’s good but I think the directory industry needs to build applications that would be used multiple times per day in order to build a scalable and successful mobile-only business. It’s not impossible but the industry needs to innovate and right now, that’s not happening. Should a big directoy publisher buy Foursquare or Gowalla?

Twitter is Not Going Away

This week, TechCrunch published international traffic growth trends for Twitter and they are impressive. The source is Pingdom.

Pingdom took a look at Google Trends for Websites traffic data for Twitter.com to see where the service is experiencing the fastest growth in terms of monthly usage. Again, that means its findings are far more fit for deducing overall trends than they are able to accurately detail Twitter’s user numbers, since a lot of people use desktop and mobile clients for tweeting.

Regions/countries that are growing are:

  • Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela
  • Asia: India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia
  • Europe: Italy, Spain, Russia (Pingdom mentions that most European countries are growing but that these three have experienced extra sharp growth)

Additional pieces of data in the TechCrunch article:

For your information, Twitter COO Dick Costolo at the beginning of this month said they are currently at 190 million users, who are collectively posting some 65 million tweets per day. And last April, Twitter’s lead engineer for its International team, Matt Sanford, said over 60% of registered Twitter accounts were already coming from outside U.S. borders.

What it means: I wanted to specifically write about Twitter’s international growth following this tweet from my friend Perry Evans. He wrote last week, following a European trip where he probably met many European media companies: “Twitter, you have a major uphill battle in Europe. Everyone I met in media circles this week seem exceedingly skeptical of your prospects”. I wrote back to him on Twitter saying: “They were skeptical of Facebook two years ago as well…”. When I spoke at the EADP conference in 2007, many senior Yellow Pages execs in Europe didn’t think Facebook was relevant. History proved them wrong. Ten years ago, I could have written a blog post titled “Google is not going away”. Most senior execs at media companies didn’t think Google would be a direct threat. Twitter has been growing and will (has?) become an important international media company. To dismiss them is to risk being fooled for a third time.

Twitter's Ineluctable March Towards Local Relevancy

Multiple news in the last few days points towards Twitter and Facebook becoming serious forces in the world of “local”.

First, in yet another chapter of Twitter’s improvements to become locally relevant, it has started rolling out its “local trends” for a series of US cities and ome countries (probably based on the ones with the most usage).

Twitter Local Trends Techcrunch screenshot

Screenshot source: Techcrunch

On a related note, the Kelsey Group analysts issued five predictions for 2010 and one of them is “location and geotargeted advertising will represent a long-elusive revenue stream for Twitter and for third parties that mash up Twitter streams and location data.” They also suggest Facebook will also “integrate automatic location detection
into the status updates” .

Third, supporting the permanent shift of user behavior towards sites like Facebook and Twitter, Forrester reports that “a third of all Internet users in the U.S. now post status updates on social networking services like Twitter and Facebook at least once per week.”

Fourth, David Hornik, a well-known American investor, recently attended a Procter & Gamble (P&G) outreach event in Silicon Valley. Asked what they thought of Twitter, Hornik writes: “To P&G, Twitter is a great broadcast medium — it is best for one to many communications that are short bursts of timely information — but as good as it is for timely information, the P&G folks do not view it as particularly relevant to what they are doing on the brand building and advertising side. For those things that Proctor & Gamble thinks are most interesting and important, they do not believe that Twitter will ever approach the value they can get out of a Google or Facebook.” This reminds me of what big brands think of Yellow Pages as a medium. They don’t understand it but it’s still drives business for millions of advertisers. Twitter will be (is?) all about the same thing. And for the record, I’ve always thought packaged-goods companies could have made a killing with Yellow Pages by making their product information locally-relevant…

Fifth, Hitwise’s traffic reports in Australia (as reported in ReadWriteWeb) show that “For perhaps the first time ever, social networking sites have surpassed the traffic search engines receive”. That would explain why in the long run Google is afraid of the new conversational capacity of sites like Facebook and Twitter. And why they’re racing to
introduce
social functionalities within Google Maps.

What it means: Twitter and Facebook are both on their way to becoming serious local discovery and communication tools. It is happening.

Twitter's Ineluctable March Towards Local Relevancy

Multiple news in the last few days points towards Twitter and Facebook becoming serious forces in the world of “local”.

First, in yet another chapter of Twitter’s improvements to become locally relevant, it has started rolling out its “local trends” for a series of US cities and ome countries (probably based on the ones with the most usage).

Twitter Local Trends Techcrunch screenshot

Screenshot source: Techcrunch

On a related note, the Kelsey Group analysts issued five predictions for 2010 and one of them is “location and geotargeted advertising will represent a long-elusive revenue stream for Twitter and for third parties that mash up Twitter streams and location data.” They also suggest Facebook will also “integrate automatic location detection into the status updates” .

Third, supporting the permanent shift of user behavior towards sites like Facebook and Twitter, Forrester reports that “a third of all Internet users in the U.S. now post status updates on social networking services like Twitter and Facebook at least once per week.”

Fourth, David Hornik, a well-known American investor, recently attended a Procter & Gamble (P&G) outreach event in Silicon Valley. Asked what they thought of Twitter, Hornik writes: “To P&G, Twitter is a great broadcast medium — it is best for one to many communications that are short bursts of timely information — but as good as it is for timely information, the P&G folks do not view it as particularly relevant to what they are doing on the brand building and advertising side. For those things that Proctor & Gamble thinks are most interesting and important, they do not believe that Twitter will ever approach the value they can get out of a Google or Facebook.” This reminds me of what big brands think of Yellow Pages as a medium. They don’t understand it but it’s still drives business for millions of advertisers. Twitter will be (is?) all about the same thing. And for the record, I’ve always thought packaged-goods companies could have made a killing with Yellow Pages by making their product information locally-relevant…

Fifth, Hitwise’s traffic reports in Australia (as reported in ReadWriteWeb) show that “For perhaps the first time ever, social networking sites have surpassed the traffic search engines receive”. That would explain why in the long run Google is afraid of the new conversational capacity of sites like Facebook and Twitter. And why they’re racing to
introduce
social functionalities within Google Maps.

What it means: Twitter and Facebook are both on their way to becoming serious local discovery and communication tools. It is happening.

Techcrunch: "Don’t Fight The Stream!"

From Don’t Fight The Stream: Facebook And FriendFeed Redesigns Are Paying Off on Techcrunch:

When Facebook redesigned its homepage in early March in a wholehearted embrace of the real-time activity stream as its primary user interface, everybody complained. “Why on earth does the world need 2 Twitters?,” asked one of my friends on Facebook. Twitter-envy aside, some early data suggests that embracing the stream was the right decision after all.

Since the redesign went into effect, Facebook’s growth has accelerated. After flat 0.3 growth in February, Facebook added nearly 4 million unique U.S. visitors in March (up 6.6 percent over February), and another 5 million in April (up 10.3 percent over March) to end at 67.5 million domestic uniques, according to comScore. That puts it within kissing distance of MySpace’s 71 million unique U.S. visitors in April, by the way (…), and keeps a healthy 50-million visitor gap with Twitter, which added 8 million U.S. visitors in April alone.

What it means: As I wrote in my “I have seen the future of local media” post last week, the activity stream is the new gold standard for content discovery and Facebook’s new focus on it seems to be paying dividends in terms of usage. If you’re in Local Media, you should embrace it as well.

Olivier Vincent, Canpages’ CEO, Loses Bet, Gets His Hair Shaved

Olivier Vincent, CEO of [praized subtype=”small” pid=”58d245fd7e8f20800dee0ecd3af21f08″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], a Canadian independent directory publisher, took a bet with his staff that he would shave his head if Canpages.ca reached 1M unique visitors or more in May 2008.

He seems to have lost…

Olivier Vincent Canpages Shaved Head Hair

You can see the results here (short version) and here (long version) on YouTube.

Source: press release