I’ve been watching Yelp’s latest moves with great interest. A couple of weeks ago, Yelp did a major content sharing deal with Yahoo, a move that helped convey Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s determination to get back in the search game. And last week, Yelp announced a big sales partnership with YP, the world’s biggest Yellow Pages company.
Yelp’s deal with Yahoo certainly helps Yahoo in its effort to bring itself back into the fight on search. Yahoo’s share of the search market has fallen to about 11% and it relies on a partnership with Bing for much of its search-related revenue.
Integrating robust Yelp content into SMBs listings that come up in search results will help Yahoo down that path. Yelp on the other hand gets a lot more branded distribution of its review content out of the deal.
Yelp’s deal with YP is more interesting in many ways. So far, Yelp has shied away from doing deals with resellers, opting to speak directly to all of its customers. This deal throws that reluctance aside with a vengeance. YP has about 4,000 sales reps, who will now be able to talk about a product with widespread consumer adoption and deep engagement. There are a host of challenges to enable the 4,000 reps to offer and position Yelp products appropriately. One in particular is for reps to be sure the prospect their talking to has had a positive Yelp experience, otherwise it could have the unintended consequence of putting the sales rep on the defensive – never a good place from which to sell. The interesting irony here is that when I first met Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, perhaps a 7 or 8 years ago, he was pretty bearish on the prospects of the YP industry to survive and now he’s throwing them a life-ring – at least from the audience perspective.
YP may have similar deals with other local search players, but it’s a much bigger deal to be able to talk about Yelp, which passed the 100 million monthly unique users milestone in January.