How Yelp could use hyper-relevant ads to capture a new revenue stream.

Yelp could turn irrelevant smartphone navigation app ads into a hyper-relevant food concierge service.

Every now and then the light goes on after a series of unrelated events coincides with something you are working on.

I stepped away from work one afternoon to play golf with my neighbor, who drove us to the course. An ad would appear in his smartphone navigation app (Waze) every time we came to a stop sign or stop light.

I hadn’t seen this before and though it had some potential. When we stopped, the ad would appear and indicate how far away a somewhat close by Panera or Dunkin’ Donuts was from out current position. Unfortunately, it only displayed those brands and I had no interest in them at that point in time. The ads were irrelevant.

This type of advertising is really just a 21st century form of the highway billboard. Instead of driving past fixed billboards we now digitize them and send them to smartphones. Is that really progress?

Yelp has as treasure trove of food images and user reviews. They already use AI image recognition to identify the foods and to further identify the most appetizing images of these foods.

I have a Yelp profile. If I could add my food preferences to it then Yelp would highly that information standing to serve me relevant food ads. Not in the Yelp app though; I only open that when I am looking for reviews or places to eat.

Instead, Yelp could send a nice looking image of the food it know I like to my navigation app. This would turn an advertisement into a service that uses my known food preferences, GPS location, and time of day to deliver hyper-relevant information.

To get the food ad into my navigation app Yelp could send the nicest looking food pics to an ad network, which would send them to my navigation app. Then, like magic, I would see seductive meat lasagna ads on my navigation screen at meal time instead of ads whose only relevance is my location.

Everyone wins.

  • As a consumer, I see what appeals to me when and where it’s most likely to trigger action.
  • Food establishments get more bang for the ad buck because their ads are hyper relevant.
  • Yelp gets a new revenue channel, more users, and an embedded presence in the smartphone advertising world, and the distinction of perhaps being the first company to turn a lowly ad into a concierge service.

What do you think? Would seeing your favorite foods in a navigation app make you more inclined to take action and does this process turn advertising (in this context) into a concierge-like service?

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