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Yelp launches ‘Showcase Ads’ and store visits attribution

This morning Yelp announced a new “video-centric” ad format, called Showcase Ads, as well as in-store attribution: Yelp Store Visits (YSV). Both offerings are aimed at national and multi-location brands. The company said these products were designed to address “specific pain points of national and multi-location businesses.”

Showcase Ads. Yelp describes the new ad unit as “video-centric,” meaning it doesn’t have to use video. Yelp envisions these will be used to promote specials and limited-time offers.

Below is an example provided by the company.

Yelp added that Denny’s and other large brands had tested these products prior to their announcement with successful results, although it didn’t offer any specifics.

Yelp Store Visits.  Yelp describes YSV as “a first-party [opt-in] attribution tool that allows businesses to better understand the impact of their ads.” YSV will report a cost-per-visit metric to help brands calculate a more accurate ROI from their ad spend.

In 2017, Yelp bought a company called Turnstyle for a reported $20 million. Turnstyle enabled businesses to offer guest WiFi in exchange for customer email addresses (opt-in). The company was then able to track return store visits, either for loyalty or attribution purposes or both.

I asked Yelp whether YSV was based on Turnstyle or whether it was working with a third party location intelligence company such as Foursquare. Yelp said “no” to both: “Yelp exclusively uses first party data in our Yelp Store Visits product — we do not use any Turnstyle data for this product. We use a variety of signals, like check-in behavior, user engagement with business pages and opt-in location data provided by consumers.”

Why we care. Yelp has recently been rolling out multiple tools and promotional offerings in an effort to evolve and deepen the user and advertiser experience and to differentiate from Google and GMB.

YSV potentially has major appeal for advertisers and may attract more brands looking for more attributable ROI, combined with Yelp’s “high intent” user profile. It will be very interesting to see if Yelp offers YSV to smaller businesses in the future. However, a company spokesperson said Yelp had nothing to announce at this time about that possibility.


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