Yelp If Ya Hear Me
Whether you’re looking for pizza, pozole, or a plumber you can find some of the best local destinations on Yelp, a review site that crowd-sources recommendations from actual customers. For businesses, Yelp.com promises a reach of 80 million visitors per month, more than half of whom have a household income exceeding $100k.
This year marks the company’s 20th year in business, and Tom Foran, SVP, Head of Go-To-Market National, at Yelp, is as bullish as ever on its continued growth. Aside from being an election year in the U.S., and the impending summer Olympics in Paris, he thinks 2024 will be just as significant because of Google’s looming cookie deprecation and the rise of generative AI. Foran chatted with StreetFight about what to expect in the marketing industry in the months ahead.
What is the biggest, boldest prediction you can make for multi-location, hyperlocal marketing in 2024?
In 2024, we’ll see a recalibration of the industry away from the oligopoly and towards independent publishers, and with it a resurgence of the premium media property. As cookies continue to be deprecated, brands will seek out first-party platforms that have the trust and consent of their users to target them with relevant ads that are beneficial to their experience. The shift to contextual advertising from audience targeting will make independent publishers more attractive and valuable to brands. Recent forecasts expect local advertising in the U.S. to grow 8.6% to $175.6 billion in 2024.
What is an example of how Yelp helped a brand be successful?
For a decade, we’ve worked with aesthetic dermatology company LaserAway. By leveraging our advertising tools, including on-platform search ads, showcase ads, spotlight, and off-platform tools like Yelp Audiences and CTV, we’ve driven a 13x ROAS for LaserAway.
Panera Bread is an example of a national brand that implemented a highly effective customer-retention strategy. Their “Unlimited Sip Club” is a natural progression of their MyPanera rewards program, which rewards customers for repeat visits. For only $11.99 a month, customers can order self-serve drinks once every two hours, with unlimited refills when they’re in the cafes. It’s a clever way to integrate the brand into customers’ morning and afternoon routines and become a part of their lives. In frequently patronizing the cafes, customers are more likely to order food alongside their drinks and create long-lasting relationships with the brand.
Attribution can be a challenge for platforms running local ads – especially at scale – but Yelp can help brands measure their success by looking at specific metrics like store visits.
How will the ad industry use AI this year? Should we believe the hype?
AI hype is real, but the most effective advertising use cases aren’t generative. Statista estimates that global revenues from AI in marketing will increase from $27.4 billion in 2023 to $107.4 billion in 2028. But it won’t only be image and text generation that will move the needle for brands. Smarter ad matching utilizing machine-learning models like neural networks provides immense value for brands. Platforms that invest in these AI optimizations will be able to help brands make smarter targeting decisions and drive more efficiencies in their advertising.
In 2023, we began using neural networks to enhance our ad systems to better match the right ads to the right consumers based on the context of their search query. For local advertisers, this technology is a game-changer – it evaluates a business’s visual content and strategically highlights images in its ads that best capture the essence of consumer searches, thus elevating the relevance and effectiveness of local marketing efforts.
You’ve said last-click attribution is no longer a baseline metric. Why not?
With Google deprecating most of its click-based attribution models and Apple announcing further restrictions to click-based tracking with its latest iOS17 launch, last-click attribution is losing its shine. It is a measurement methodology that gives full credit to the paid or organic media that drove the customer to the brand’s website. At face value, this seems unfair and inaccurate. However, due to its ease of use and the ubiquitous availability of tools like Google Analytics, almost all brands use last click as the baseline of their reporting.
Brands need to anchor their measurement strategies onto cookie-proof measurement tools, including conversions APIs, media-mix modeling, incremental lift testing and clean rooms. And there’s no replacement for having rich first-party data to help you reach your target consumers.
Which is better for businesses’ growth, return customers or new customers?
According to American Express, it costs five to six times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Brands should build high-value loyalty programs that offer more than just discounts and rewards to their most loyal customers. Leveraging local advertising as a touchpoint to highlight loyalty programs to customers will encourage them to stay active and engaged with the brand.
We work with some of the country’s largest restaurant brands to help them measure how their customers’ digital footprint converts to store visits. Using Yelp Ads, we generated increased foot traffic to Jack in the Box locations, achieving an impressive average cost-per-incremental visit of just $0.81. This approach connected to customers digitally with real-world business outcomes.