Yahoo today announced that it will include ratings and reviews from Yelp in its local search service. The partnership, which was first announced in February, will improve Yahoo’s location-based offerings while simultaneously making Yelp an integral aspect of yet another nascent local service.
Yelp was previously tapped to provide ratings and reviews for Apple Maps, the infamously buggy mapping solution Apple introduced in 2012, and provides similar information to Bing. Perhaps the only mainstream search service or mapping solutions — no, LexisNexis doesn’t count — that don’t include Yelp’s data is operated by Google, which offers its own tools.
The company’s nigh-ubiquity in the reviews market is unsurprising. Considering the slow rate at which consumers share information about local businesses — it has taken Yelp a decade to amass 53 million reviews — it’s easier to partner with Yelp than build a competing service.
Having these reviews is only going to become more important as large tech companies work to make their products more location-aware. Apple is trying to do just that with Apple Maps and CarPlay tool, which will predict where drivers want to go based on their digital lives. Yahoo is doing the same with improved local searches and the acquisition of Aviate, an Android tool that automatically presents different information based on a user’s location and “context.”
Reactions from around the Web
Re/code’s Kara Swisher notes that this partnership might be orchestrated to help Yahoo and Yelp defeat Google:
The content from [Yelp] is now integrated with local search and maps. It’s handsomely designed, although Google has had a very similar offering — photos, maps, other info all in one — for a long time now.
But a link between Yelp and Yahoo makes a lot of sense. Yelp has also been battling Google for a long time, as the search giant has aggressively increased its use of similar information from its own sites.
The Wall Street Journal reports that this isn’t the first time that Marissa Mayer has tried to get her hands on Yelp’s data:
Ms. Mayer, who once led search at Google, was involved in that company’s 2009 attempt to acquire Yelp for at least $500 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said at the time.With the Yelp partnership, she has more grapes with which to work.
At a conference last year, Ms. Mayer compared Yahoo’s search strategy to a winemaker who buys grapes from a vineyard: ‘You can grow your own grapes or buy them from someone else and still make a wine with your own style,’ she said.
Fortune wonders how the partnership, which came about after a reported deal between Yahoo and Foursquare, might affect the check-in company:
It’s not clear why Yahoo chose Yelp over Foursquare, though a person familiar with Foursquare says the startup walked away because Yahoo was not interested in the strategic investment part of the deal. And the Foursquare-Microsoft data partnership is not exclusive, so Foursquare could theoretically revisit the topic with Yahoo. Still, this partnership seemed like an easy layup for Foursquare. And at this point, the company needs to make every shot it gets.
Pando weighs in
Carmel DeAmicis wrote in December that Yelp is becoming unbeatable:
Although it wasn’t first to restaurant user reviews, Yelp conquered almost all who came after. Its network effects were just too high. There were enough people on it, reviewing a wide enough swath of restaurants in far flung corners of the nation, that any other application struggled to compete. The only user review platforms that have come close to challenging it on a large scale are tied to service professions, like Angie’s List, or have reviews as an after thought, like Foursquare or Google Maps (reviews powered by Google Places).
I wrote about how all of these services are changing maps earlier this month:
The world’s largest tech companies (namely Google and Apple) are trying to become better map-makers. Sometimes this requires a more detailed view of the physical world, but more often it requires a better understanding of the person consulting a map than the location it describes. That’s because maps are no longer static representations of the mountains and valleys that dot the landscape. They’re personalized views of every restaurant, mall, and tourist attraction you might care about.