Yelp, the business-review site whose sales rose 21% to $209 in Q2 2017 from a year earlier, is letting marketers create custom audience segments of Yelp users based on their location and search activity, Ad Age reported. Yelp partnered with data management company LiveRamp to help parse information about its 100 million users.
Yelp Local Audiences lets marketers isolate audience segments based on categories such as brand interest or geographical data, similar to the Facebook Audience Network. Yelp's emphasis on local businesses makes it distinct from Facebook and Google, Drew Canniff, regional VP of agency sales, told AdAge.
Yelp says 79% of its users make a purchase after performing a search on its website or app. The company has more than 1 billion data points that can be broken down into thousands of segments, Canniff said.
Yelp's efforts to create custom audiences is another way to leverage the insights the company has on its 100 million users, including their searches, reviews and geographic data. The platform faces a major challenge, however, in attempting to take on Facebook and Google, the "duopoly" that dominates the vast majority of the digital ad market.
One of Yelp's major advantages is its audience of motivated buyers who turn to the service to find local products and services. A Yelp user who is seeking a hotel in a city is a good target for related services. While the veracity and filtering of Yelp reviews have stirred consternation among some local businesses, the site and mobile app provide ways for businesses to respond to complaints.
As marketers start to think more leveraging about location data in their strategies, a platform that specializes in locality like Yelp could be more appealing. While it's highly unlikely that it will put any significant dent in Google and Facebook's business — Google alone is forecast to command 40.7% of U.S. digital ad revenues this year, according to eMarketer — Yelp could fill a niche that's sometimes viewed as being underserved.
Brand marketers will want to see third-party analytics that demonstrate the usefulness in advertising on Yelp in terms of real-world transactions. Personalizing mobile ads using location data is a key struggle for marketers due to apprehensions about the quality of the data, Digiday reported. The publication cited a March survey from Forrester Research that found 94% of senior marketers had difficulties working with location data, ranging from inaccurate location information to not knowing what third-party data providers exist.