TripAdvisor Pushes Further Into Restaurant Space with Local Ad Product

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Having already tackled travel and hotels, TripAdvisor is continuing to go after the restaurant vertical, today launching a new product aimed at independent restaurants and restaurant groups. TripAdvisor Ads marks the company’s first product designed to allow restaurants to reach customers through cost-per-click sponsored ad placements within the site’s native search results.

TripAdvisor already boasts more than 4.4 million restaurant listings on the site, along with 200 million travelers and locals searching for restaurants each month. With its new advertising product, restaurants will be able to use sponsored placements to drive traffic to their TripAdvisor listings. Sponsored listings will appear in the first spot of relevant restaurant categories, as well as the top spot on relevant search results within TripAdvisor.

In addition to targeting diners searching for restaurants in specified areas, restaurants will be able to target diners based on search selection queries, like categories for meal prices, cuisine type, and meal type. TripAdvisor believes this type of targeting, coupled with a pay-per-click model, will enable restaurants to only pay for clicks from customers who might actually be interested in their business. For example, a diner looking for breakfast spots wouldn’t accidentally click on an ad for a restaurant that doesn’t open until 4 p.m.

According to Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice president of TripAdvisor Restaurants, TripAdvisor Ads differentiates itself from competing advertising products by offering restaurants a way to specifically target high-intent diners who are actively searching for restaurants in specified areas.

“Other sites have built custom audience tools that reach consumers, but they don’t have the large, global traveler audience that is actively in search-mode for the perfect restaurant,” Jelensperger says.

Although TripAdvisor is known primarily for its hotel reviews, it has also become a major player in the restaurant space in recent years. The company created “enhanced listings” for restaurants earlier this year, however today’s product launch marks the first time TripAdvisor is allowing restaurants to reach customers through cost-per-click sponsored ad placements.

“This past year, we’ve had an increased focus on our global restaurant business and continue to work to develop easy-to-use, high ROI marketing tools for owners,” Jelensperger says.

Today’s product release also piggybacks on a marketing study conducted by TripAdvisor in July showing that the majority (85%) of restaurant owners in the U.S. believe they should be doing more to promote their businesses.

Restaurants using TripAdvisor Ads will be able to target potential diners by city or region. In the cases of smaller cities, Jelensperger says the company may expand targeting to nearby cities and towns, as well.

Given how important mobile search has become—particularly among travelers who may not have a laptop or desktop with them on the road—it should come as no surprise that TripAdvisor has refined its strategy for influencing the results people see when they search for “nearby” restaurants on their smartphones and tablets. Jelensperger says the company has developed sophisticated logic to only show ads to those that are in a close enough proximity to a restaurant to be considered an eligible diner.

“For instance, the distance that a diner is willing to travel in New York City is very different than the Lakes Region of New Hampshire,” he explains. “Through TripAdvisor Ads, we are committed to driving the most relevant traffic to a restaurant listing in order to ensure owners are only paying for clicks from consumers interest in their specific business.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.