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Yelp takes bigger swipe at mobile recommendations via app revamp

June 14, 2013

Yelp is craving a bigger piece of the location-based mobile space with a new application feature that pulls together multiple pieces of data for more personal recommendations.

The company is increasingly building up its mobile products and advertising opportunities as the company sees nearly half of its searches coming from its mobile apps. The new feature is rolling out on Yelp’s iPhone app.

“Yelp’s Nearby tab has always existed to help make relevant suggestions to people who are out and about looking for a highly recommended business near them,” said Travis Brooks, product manager for search and data mining at Yelp, San Francisco.

“We are now taking this a step further by incorporating data that we already have, including that user’s location, their previous Yelp check-ins and reviews and Yelp friends,” he said.

“We can even factor in data such as the time of day and even the weather.”

Mobile data
Yelp has revamped features under its Nearby tab.

The new features aim to make the mobile recommendations experience more personalized by adding other pieces of data – such as past check-ins – to the service.

Additionally, places will be recommended by time of day and weather, as well as by locations that a user’s friends have visited.

Yelp also has plans to roll out the feature on the company’s Android app in the coming months.

Monetizing mobile
Yelp claims that 45 percent of all searches for the company come from its mobile apps, but challenges still remains around monetization.

The location-based space is continuing to heat up as Yelp and its many competitors hone in on mobile to capitalize on consumers increasingly turning to their handsets as the first place to get information.

For example, foursquare recently updated its iPhone and Android app with features that emphasize mobile search (see story).

Similarly, Groupon introduced a universal search feature to its mobile app earlier this year (see story).

In particular, Yelp has a big opportunity because of its focus in local restaurants and merchants, which traditionally has high levels of intent from mobile users.

Earlier this year, Yelp rolled out in-app advertising opportunities to initial brands such as Taco Bell, InterContinental Hotels Group and Miller Lite.

Yelp’s new Nearby feature could also potentially help the company monetize some of its new advertising opportunities with sponsored content based on a consumer’s past behavior, similar to foursquare’s business model.

“Yelp’s mobile application gives consumers the power of 39 million reviews as of the first-quarter of 2013 in their back pocket,” Mr. Brooks said.

“We already know that consumers are turning to Yelp to help them make a spending decision, now we’re just improving this experience by giving them some educated suggestions in case they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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