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Is Yelp Advertising Worth It?

yelpIf you’re listed on Yelp, and your business has gotten any number of reviews, there is a good chance that someone at Yelp has tried to contact you for an advertising opportunity. In this article, we’ll look at what Yelp’s offering to you, your options for advertising, and ultimately provide some guidance as to whether Yelp advertising is a good move for your business.

The Yelp Ad Model

Yelp’s basic ad model functions a lot like Google’s ad model because it’s based on some of the same principles. The user goes to Yelp, performs a search query and finds results listed on a page. Yelp ads insert a particular restaurant into a query for a certain item, say “tacos”. Ads can be tailored too, looking for certain characteristics of a user’s profile or showing only for users within a certain distance of the place of business.

Yelp ads are also pricey, at least as much or a bit more than the average cost per click across ad services.

What Are People Saying about Yelp Ads?yelp FB ad dislikes

Majority of Yelp advertisers do not seem to be happy with the results. In fact, we do not know of a single company who has done Yelp ads and has gotten good conversion. All the clients that we speak to who have done Yelp before either have cancelled it or are not going to renew when their contract runs out. A few clients we spoke to feel that by advertising with Yelp more of their positive reviews will show, hence that is the only reason they advertise with Yelp. However, we feel this is not true. Advertising with Yelp has no effect on positive or negative reviews getting filtered or now. In fact, many people have tried to sue Yelp for this reason, but have not been able to prove that.

Yelp recently ran some Facebook ads to try to get more advertisers and many people were posting negative comments about Yelp Advertising. We grabbed a screenshot of some of the comments, which you can see to the right.

Who Needs Ads?

Yelp’s ad model is best for businesses that have customers who will spend a great deal of money over the course of their lifetime. For most small businesses, that’s a costly gamble. Established businesses should be able to capitalize on some of Yelp’s ads, but most likely see a great deal of traffic already provided through other means.

What drives the cost of a Yelp ad is the value of that user. If someone is searching for a product on Yelp, they’re rarely comparison shopping. Yelp uses that value to drive the cost of its ads.

Are the ads worth the price? That depends on your options, of which there are many:

  • You can hire a branding or reputation management firm, where the average cost per year is significantly less than Yelp ads, plus you will most likely see a bump in organic traffic to your website in the process.
  • You can monitor the reviews yourself and respond to them, even friending users who leave reviews on your page. This boost in reviews and engagement may help organically improve your listing in Yelp.
  • You can solicit reviews from your place of business through a variety of means. You might ask directly on the customer’s receipt or create an email list.
  • You could pay for other advertising through Facebook, Twitter or Google. This might lessen the cost per click/engagement.

Final Thoughts

Yelp ads aren’t the best solution for every business, but they can be beneficial to some. They don’t affect reviews, nor do they help more positive reviews avoid the review filter. At least not definitively. Overall, Yelp’s ads should be viewed by most small businesses with a skeptic eye.