FTC Discloses Small Business Complaints Against Yelp

yelp-featured Many small businesses continue to feel that Yelp is unfair or complain that Yelp salespeople are using strong-arm tactics to get them to buy advertising on the site. Claims of "extortion" against Yelp have persisted though never been proven with evidence and the company has successfully defended a number of lawsuits on those grounds. These "extortion" claims again resurfaced in two articles published this week. One in the Wall Street Journal, focused on a lawsuit brought by Hadeed Carpet in Virginia over anonymous, critical reviews on Yelp. The business owner claims that the reviewers we [...]

Yelp Hires Republican DC Lobbyist For IP, Free-Speech Issues

yelp icon According to "inside the beltway" publication The Hill, Yelp has hired a former Republican legislative aide as its first formal lobbyist. The lobbyist is Laurent Crenshaw, who was most recently an aide for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Crenshaw will reportedly be addressing patent and copyright issues, including issues arising under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Crenshaw will also be involved with anti-SLAPP legislative efforts. SLAPPs are "strategic lawsuits against public participation," which usually seek to censor speech including online critic [...]

Yelp, Happy With iOS Mobile Reviews, Expands Feature To Android

yelp icon After about two months of what you could call an iOS-only test, Yelp is now letting Android users write reviews directly from their mobile device, too. Yelp didn't allow its users to write reviews on mobile devices until launching that feature on iOS back in August. The company's logic was that reviews written from mobile devices would be shorter and lower quality, hit-and-run style -- and might even skew toward negative outbursts in the heat of the moment after a bad experience. Its mobile apps only allowed users to post brief tips, not full reviews. But in its announcement yesterday, Y [...]

Confidence Crisis: 40 Percent Don’t Trust Online Reviews

Encourage Reviews Over the course of the past year, there have been a number of online review scandals. Most recently, there was a New York regulatory crackdown on fake reviews being generated by "reputation management" firms. It's unclear whether the publicity surrounding any of these events has eroded consumer confidence in online reviews and their authenticity. A recent Nielsen study indicated that online reviews were among the most trusted sources of information for consumers. And numerous consumer surveys have argued that Internet users routinely consult and rely on reviews to help make purchase decisi [...]

NY Attorney General Settles With 19 Companies In Fake Review Crackdown

pinocchio-lies-fake-toy-featured Little by little, the fake online review industry is cracking. Today, the New York Attorney General's office announced a settlement with 19 companies that agreed to stop writing fake online reviews. They'll also pay more than $350,000 in fines. The announcement marks the end of a year-long investigation that the AG's office called "Operation Clean Turf." The full list of 19 companies is available in the attorney general's announcement. It includes a mix of SEO/marketing firms and small businesses. A handful of companies agreed to pay fines that range from $2,500 to almost $100,000, while [...]

Yelp Sues Law Firm For Faking Reviews, Firm Claims Retaliation

yelp icon You'd think that lawyers would know better. According to a lawsuit filed August 20 in California Superior Court, Yelp is suing the McMillan Law Group for breach of contract and related claims. The site claims the law firm posted fake reviews about itself. The Yelp suit recites that McMillan Law Group employees used personal Yelp accounts or created fake accounts to write five-star reviews about the bankruptcy firm. In many of these cases the users posed as clients of the firm and fabricated experiences. The following is an example representative of the claims in the lawsuit (full complai [...]

Yelp CEO Initially Didn’t Like Name “Yelp,” Sounded Like “Cry For Help”

yelp-iphone Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman was interviewed by Charlie Rose earlier this month on August 15. AllThingsD, which called our attention to the interview, focuses in on Stoppelman's criticism of Google's local efforts (17:35 below). However, Rose asked Stoppelman about a wide range of subjects, extending beyond Yelp to tech generally and international competition. Rose, in his introduction, says that "Steve Jobs called [Stoppelman] to advise him personally against the [Google acquisition] deal." While the interview never returns to Steve Jobs and what he may or may not have told Stoppelman, t [...]

5 Mobile Trends Marketers Need To Know About

5 trends Given that we are a little more than halfway through the year, it feels like it's the right time to take a step back and look at some of the key trends happening in the mobile space. In particular, these are trends that marketers should care about, especially as this channel continues to grow in both numbers and usage (see stats below). Some Key Mobile Stats Below are some stats that marketers should pay attention to. [caption id="attachment_56015" align="alignright" width="288"] Image via Shutterstock[/caption] There are 6.8 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. That's up from 6 bill [...]

Yelp Changes Course, Allows Review Writing From Mobile

yelp-logo Yelp has announced a pretty significant change of course: Its mobile app will now allow users to write and publish full business reviews. There's an update for Yelp's iOS app that's available now, and it includes a new "Add Review" button on all business profiles. (Yelp says this functionality is "coming soon" for Android app users.) It's a big change for Yelp, which has consistently stuck to its belief that allowing mobile review publishing would lead to lower-quality reviews. That's why Yelp has only allowed leaving tips via its mobile app, and asked users to write full reviews only fr [...]

Yelp: 59 Percent Of Searches Now Mobile

yelp-iphone Earlier this afternoon, Yelp announced its second quarter earnings. Net quarterly revenue was $55 million, which represents 69 percent growth over last year. The company also announced a smaller loss than a year ago: $878,000 vs. $2.0 million. Yelp said that it now had 42.5 million reviews across its properties. The following are some of the additional metrics released by the company today with its Q2 earnings: Total average monthly uniques: 108 million (38 percent growth) Active business accounts: 51,400 (62 percent growth) Revenue for the first half: $101.2 million (68 percent h [...]

Google Recruiting “City Experts” To Get More Local Reviews

Google City Experts Google appears to be trying to create its own version of Yelp's Elite Squad, a community of trusted high-volume review generators. A solicitation appeared in Google+ asking people to become "City Experts." Here's the text of the Google message: Do you love to review places around your city and share your opinion with others?  Our new Google City Experts program gives top reviewers (users with at least 50 high quality reviews, and at least 5 reviews in the current month) special perks like event invitations, custom swag, special access to contests and more. Users opt-in with their Google+ [...]

Yelp More Likely To Filter Extreme Reviews & New Accounts [Study]

yelp-featured Yelp keeps the details of its review filter algorithm secret, for obvious reasons, but a new study suggests that there are some things about the review and the reviewer that are more likely to trigger the filter. Michael Luca and Georgios Zervas recently published a working paper, Fake it Till You Make it: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud, that's based on a study of more than 316,000 Yelp reviews of Boston restaurants. Their study covered more than 3,600 different businesses. They found that Yelp's review filter had hidden more than 50,000 of those, or about 16 percent of a [...]

Yelp Platform Brings Transactions To Local Business Pages

yelp-logo Yelp has formally announced a new tool called Yelp Platform that turns its local business pages into a platform for consumer transactions. It's somewhat similar to, but not to be confused with the call-to-action product that Yelp recently began offering to advertisers. Today's launch is narrow. It's focused specifically on the restaurant category, and allows consumers to order food for delivery or pickup from about 100 restaurants that are supported by Delivery.com and/or Eat24. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told the MobileBeat conference today that Yelp will handle most of the experience f [...]

Yelp Sues To Take Down Paid Review Mill

Fake Yelp reviews First brought to our attention by The Daily Dot, Yelp has sued to terminate and collect damages from a site called BuyOnlineReviews.net. The site leads with Yelp but it promises to generate fake positive reviews for a range of local directories and social sites including Google +, Citysearch, InsiderPages, Local.com, SuperPages, Foursquare, Kudzu, YellowPages as well as Yelp. Yelp has sued for a whole range of alleged illegal activities and violations. The company's objective is to close the site and collect fees and damages. Before the site is taken down -- and it will be -- you should [...]

Nielsen Study Reveals 4 Out Of 5 Yelp Users Stop By Yelp Before Making Local Purchases

yelp icon According to a Nielsen survey commissioned by Yelp, four out of five Yelp users visit Yelp.com before spending money, and 93 percent say that visiting Yelp leads to a local purchase. When asked why they use Yelp, 82 percent said they typically visit Yelp because they intend to buy a product or service. Of the participants identified as Yelp users, 89 percent said they typically make a purchase within a week from the businesses they find on Yelp. The 93 percent who said Yelp leads to a local purchase included participants who responded always, frequently, or occasionally. When asked [...]

Yelp Advertisers Now Able To Promote Transactions Directly From Yelp Business Listings

yelp-logo Yelp announced a new Call to Action feature today that allows business owners to promote specific transactions directly on their Yelp business listing. In an attempt to increase potential revenue for advertisers, the new Call to Action feature enables a link within an advertiser's business listing that will take consumers to the website where the transaction can be completed. The sample below shows a 'Reserve Now' Call to Action button, but advertisers can choose whatever transaction they prefer. According to the announcement, Ticketmaster was one of the first Yelp advertisers to tak [...]

Following Foursquare, Yelp Adds Local Recommendations

yelp-featured Yelp has introduced personalized local recommendations into its "Nearby" feature. Previously, Nearby was a list of basic categories that allowed users to find businesses by proximity and review ranking. Now, it offers a different look and feel with local recommendations built on a set of behavioral and contextual variables. Below is the new look for Nearby. The factors that influence what appears under Nearby recommendations are "location, previous Yelp check-ins and reviews, and Yelp friends as well as other data like the time of day and even the weather." In other words, this is a [...]

Yelp Offers Local Businesses New “Revenue Estimate” Tool

yelp icon Today must be the day of ROI calculators. Google just introduced one for mobile, and Yelp, last night, debuted its "revenue estimator" for small businesses. The tool is free to all businesses that have claimed their Yelp profiles. The Yelp revenue estimator is the same for advertisers and non-advertisers. In the future, Yelp might add some additional features for advertisers, but that remains to be determined. Right now, the company just wants to see how businesses react to and use it. The tool is relatively simple, it multiplies customer leads in a given month by an average revenue-p [...]

10 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Marketing Via Foursquare

foursquare-featured Nearly two years ago, my co-author Mike Schneider and I published a book called Location-Based Marketing for Dummies. At the time, location-based marketing was just getting off the ground in large part thanks to the launch of two services: foursquare and Gowalla. Over the last couple of years, many of the original location-based services have been acquired or have gone out of business. But foursquare still stands in spite of the fact that it still hasn't caught fire like many of us hoped it would. While foursquare has stalled out around 25 million users, it is still a force to be reckone [...]

Yelp Starts Selling Display Ads In Its Mobile App

yelp icon Yelp is now selling display ads in its mobile apps, with two advertisers -- Taco Bell and InterContinental Hotels Groups (IHG) as the first two advertisers to give it a try. According to Ad Age, those two companies will have exclusivity for the month of March in their respective categories -- Taco Bell for restaurant-related searches and IHG for travel-related searches. The IHG ads are reportedly showing today, but I'm not seeing them yet in my searches. AdAge says the Taco Bell ads are expected to begin showing on Thursday. Their article included this screenshot showing a Taco Bell disp [...]

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