- Yelp introduced its Yelp Store Visits metric, which uses opt-in location information and other engagement signals to help advertisers measure how online activity drives physical store foot traffic. The platform also introduced Showcase Ads, a video-centric format for national marketers to highlight in-season promotions, according to a company announcement.
- Denny's, the casual dining chain with more than 1,700 locations, piloted Yelp Store Visits with help from its media agency, Spark Foundry, according to materials shared with Mobile Marketer. Meanwhile, an unnamed national casual dining restaurant drove store visits at an average cost of $1.17 per visit in a separate test of the new ad metics. Almost all (91%) of the visits happened within 24 hours of engaging with an ad on Yelp, per the announcement.
- Yelp's number of online reviews grew 22% to 199 million in Q3 from a year earlier, while the number of seated diners totaled 2.6 million a month during the quarter, per Yelp's factsheet. Yelp will announce its Q4 results tomorrow.
Denny's test of Yelp Store Visits suggests that the restaurant chain saw positive results from advertising on the online review service. Driving foot traffic is an important goal for casual dining chains that are seeing a growing trend toward digital ordering and food delivery. Denny's this week reported that same-store sales grew 2% for its restaurants in 2019 from a year earlier, a promising sign for the chain.
"We are always looking for new ways to reach our consumers and, given Yelp's dominance in the industry, we sought a partnership to help us drive more customers to our restaurants," Erik Jensen, Denny's VP of brand engagement, said in emailed comments. "[Yelp Store Visits] has helped us to truly understand the impact of our ad dollars and ensure we're leveraging the right strategy."
Denny's pilot program likely will help Yelp to expand its Yelp Store Visits metric among other national brands that seek ways to evaluate how advertising impacts foot traffic. Increasingly, marketers are relying on location data derived from mobile devices as part of their marketing metrics. Real-time location data can help to boost the effectiveness of ad campaigns, according to a report last year by location data provider Factual. Spending on location analytics is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2023 from $8.35 billion in 2017, Placer.ai said in a study cited by Bloomberg.
Denny's last year launched a nationwide "See You at Denny's" campaign as part of a brand makeover that included the remodeling of 80% of its stores and a menu overhaul. The chain sought to create more a comfortable dining space, use higher-quality menu ingredients and maintain a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives. Some of the multimedia marketing efforts included commercials targeting African-American and Hispanic diners, Mobile Marketer's sister publication Restaurant Dive reported. The rebranding followed an earlier effort to become more relevant among younger diners by reaching them through digital media platforms Hulu, Amazon and Pandora.