While Mike Ghaffary, director of business at Yelp, can’t comment on the future direction of Yelp due to the quiet period following its IPO, he did speak to us about what he’s seeing in mobile consumption.We caught up with Ghaffary today at IGNITION West.
Business Insider: What’s happening in the mobile space?
Mike Ghaffary: Offline commerce in the United States is many multiples the size of the online commerce market.
Being able to convert online interest by consumers into offline foot traffic and sales is extremely valuable for local and national businesses alike, especially since every national business in the end is made up of thousands of physical locations that need customers.
BI: How are people using their mobile phones to make decisions?
MG: The power of mobile is that people are making decisions on where to eat, shop, and go all from the palm of their hands.
Google recently announced that 40% of the searches they are seeing on mobile devices are local searches–so clearly mobile users have a strong local intent.
The most valuable place to be is right at the heart of that decision-making process: where are consumers going online and on mobile to decide where to spend their hard-earned dollars?
BI: So how does Yelp fit in?
MG: Yelp has 25 million reviews and ratings, which drives over 60 million monthly unique visitors who find great local businesses. The key is putting consumers first: by providing that critical information, with both quality and a large breadth of content, users learn to trust Yelp as the best source for local information.
By drawing on its massive library of content, Yelp can create powerful experiences on mobile devices, for example, by giving users review highlights that mine the 25 million reviews algorithmically for sentiment analysis on the best things to order at a restaurant. In the attached screenshots, you can see the highlights for Burma Superstar: over one thousand people love the tea leaf salad there, so you know it must be good!
You can see three highlights, and click more to see even more favourites of hundreds of people because of the power of our advanced algorithms.
Users can trust that this isn’t just one person’s anecdotal opinion, but literally hundreds of people all thought a dish, a spa treatment, a doctor, or any type of local service or business stood out.
BI: What’s the big trend happening in discovery?
MG: There are two types of discovery: search/browse, and serendipity. Serendipity tells you about categories of services/products that you might not have even thought you wanted.
Search and browse is when users look for something: either a specific search term e.g. “sushi restaurant,” “good plumber,” “luxury suite,” or a category like “Beauty and Spas.” That is a very valuable part of the discovery process to be inserted into: users are making a critical decision about where to go and spend, and Yelp is their trusted tool with 25 million reviews to help them make that decision.