Why Yelp’s Local Data Keeps Popping Up in Unexpected Places

Online reviews are popping up in some unexpected places. Vehicle dashboards, rideshare apps, voice assistants, and mobile ordering platforms are just the beginning. As Yelp’s review growth and desktop search volume begins to decline, the company is looking at new opportunities to integrate local data and content into third-party products.

That leads to Yelp’s most recent announcement, that the company would be integrating local content and data with Ford Motor Company, Audi, and Uber, as part of its Yelp Fusion program. In more than a dozen U.S. cities, Yelp content and data is now used to power Uber Explore, a new product in the Uber app that allows riders to browse and book experiences, like dinner reservations and live events.

Yelp Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development Chad Richard says Yelp’s local content is a proven boon in helping third-party platforms enrich their digital experiences. Yelp is continuing to come up with new and meaningful ways to use its content to connect consumers with local businesses.

“We’re excited to integrate Yelp’s trusted content and data into so many great consumer platforms across automotive, technology, AI, and search industries,” Richard says. 

Since the debut of Yelp Fusion in 2016, thousands of platforms and experiences have added Yelp search and local content. Integration partners can choose which attributes to show on their platforms, with millions of business updates coming in each month. 

Yelp has also built its own platform for vehicle manufacturers, Yelp Fusion Automotive. Through API and data feeds, Yelp Automotive integrates with original equipment manufacturer technology stacks, like Cerence for conversational AI capabilities and Telenav for embedded software.

Growth in Yelp Fusion

Growth in Yelp Fusion comes as more consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. According to BrightLocal, 77% of consumers now say they “always” or “regularly” read reviews when browsing for local businesses, up to 60% in 2020.

Yelp’s decision to partner with third-party platforms extends the value of its local business content, enabling consumers to discover restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness studios, parks, entertainment venues, and other businesses even when they’re outside the traditional Yelp platform. It also speaks to the growing value that marketers are placing on local discovery within third-party systems. The Yelp Fusion program puts Yelp’s content on more infotainment systems, mapping apps, and voice assistants. The company says its content is now available in more than half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. 

“We’re always looking for new ways to expand existing partnerships, as well as build new ones to bring Yelp’s trusted local content across numerous consumer platforms,” Richard says. “These integrations represent the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible through our Yelp Fusion program, which we anticipate will continue to grow in the years to come.”

Partnering with Giants

Yelp’s incredible name recognition within the local data and discovery space has helped the company ink partnerships with some of the biggest names in business. This month’s partnership with Uber is the latest in a long stream of deals to come out of the Yelp Fusion program. 

Uber Explore is the first lifestyle product in the Uber app, designed to help customers browse and book reservations at restaurants, tourist attractions, and local activities. Riders using Uber Explore can see details, like hours of operation and contact information, for businesses, as well as Yelp ratings, reviews, and photos. For the first time, they can make reservations at businesses without leaving the Uber app.

Although many of Yelp’s most high-profile partnerships have come out of its Yelp Fusion Automotive program, the company is also serving non-automotive consumer websites, apps, and products through Yelp Fusion Enterprise.

“We look for partners that would mutually benefit from utilizing our content and data, as well as companies that align with our values,” Richard says. “Right now, we’re focused on continuing to expand Yelp Fusion within the automotive, technology, AI and search industries, as well as into new categories.”

​​Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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