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Yelp’s Director of Product Shares Behind the Scenes Look at New Multi-location Ad Products

We’ve officially announced the release of two new products that help businesses with multiple locations (>5) better reach and understand consumers at every phase of the purchase cycle: Yelp Store Visits (YSV) enables brands to measure how online activity on Yelp drives physical store foot traffic; and Showcase Ads, a new video format, allows national marketers to feature in-season promotions and tell their brand story more effectively. Yelp’s new enterprise advertising products provide brands with greater control over how they promote their business on Yelp, and a more effective way to measure what resonates with their audiences. 

LaserAway leverages Showcase Ads with video

 

These new products were created to address the specific pain points of national and multi-location businesses that are looking to better tell their story to Yelp’s high intent audience. Showcase Ads provides a canvas for brands to promote offerings to potential customers who are looking for a business like theirs, while Yelp Store Visits gives clients the confidence that Yelp’s advertising products are delivering real in-store value.

We sat down with Rahul Hampole, our Director of Product, to learn more about why Yelp released these products, and what it means for businesses.

What inspired the development of these products?

Rahul: Yelp’s core premise is connecting consumers with great local businesses and, of course, that means driving them to nearby establishments. When a consumer opens their app, searches for “pizza” or “shoes,” they are trying to go somewhere and engage with a physical location rather than find a pizza recipe or look up recent shoe trends. This is what we call high intent.

As we talked with National and regional brands, we realized it was essential to our partnership that we have a way to show the effectiveness of their advertising. We decided to invest the energy into taking Yelp’s data, aggregating it, and adding machine learning algorithms on top to develop a first party attribution tool that measures store visits, aptly named, Yelp Store Visits.

Through research, we also found that offers and in-store products are a big motivator for consumers to frequent an enterprise location — for example, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. For Showcase Ads, we wanted to take our ad product, add a more creative element, and give more control to brands with new formats such as video, enabling them to tell their unique story to consumers.

Take us through the journey from ideation to release…

Rahul: Yelp excels at a number of things, one of which is getting consumers into physical businesses. We had no way to prove it, but knew we wanted to. To start, we partnered with Nielsen on a series of consumer surveys to provide proof points that Yelp does indeed drive visits. We also leveraged other signals (e.g. a consumer looking up directions for a business after clicking on an ad) that demonstrated the effectiveness of Yelp and Yelp Ads. Initially, we built some basic rule-based analysis, but then decided to double down on the premise by investing in a strong team of machine learning engineers and scientists. This journey led to the product we have today. 

What is so innovative about these products?

Rahul: For YSV, aside from the technical complexity of building a machine learning product, this is one of the first few products at Yelp that is deliberately focused on national and regional brands. It gives these brands a great deal of insights — for example, the percentage of users who visit their physical location one day after seeing or clicking an ad is a useful metric that can help inform and optimize campaigns.

There are platforms that allow brands to show creative ads to consumers, and there are platforms that allow them to drive intent. However, we’re merging the two together with Showcase Ads, allowing brands to tell their story in a format that’s engaging to a high-intent audience. A great example of this would be Panera Bread showcasing their new grain bowl menu item to a consumer searching for grain bowls nearby. 

Why are you excited about this launch?

Rahul: At the end of the day, Yelp Store Visits validates our core value proposition to advertisers – that their Yelp Ads drive actual foot traffic to their stores. That is something worth celebrating.

With Showcase Ads, brands have another way to communicate to high-intent consumers why they should be walking into their particular location, especially when they are so far down the purchasing funnel. It is the first example (and of many to come) of a unique enterprise product offering.

For 15 years, Yelp has been synonymous with helping consumers discover great local businesses — from restaurants and nail salons, to movers and plumbers. For the past few years, Yelp has been doubling down on its ability to connect people with household name brands as well. These advertisers have large store footprints supported by sizable advertising budgets and we are now tailoring Yelp’s hyper-local marketing capabilities to better serve this important segment of the market.

Since doubling down on our focus on product innovation to address these unique needs, Yelp has partnered with household brands like Macy’s IHOP, Starbucks and many other national and regional brands, to help them reach consumers right at the point when they’re ready to make a purchase.

These products underscore Yelp’s commitment to these multi-location brands and we’re excited about what’s to come – stay tuned!