Yelp Calls Mobile ‘A Bit of a Game Changer’

yelp appLast month, consumer review site Yelp hit a milestone – for the first time ever, they had over 100 million unique visitors in a single month. That number doesn’t include the 9.4 million unique users who accessed the site through Yelp’s mobile app.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, CFO Robert Krolik said,

46% of all Yelp searches originated from our app, and that’s of course, a direct consumer relationship. Somebody has already got the Yelp app on their phone, they’re hitting it and kind of going into Yelp and performing a search there. . . So while we’re still happy to have traffic coming from Google or whatever search engine, we’re seeing mobile as being a little bit of a game changer.

All of which sounds like good news, but Yelp lost $5.3 million in the last quarter of 2012, even though sales were up 65%.

CEO Jeremy Stoppelman takes it all in stride (which, I guess you’d have to). He saw 2012 as a building year. A successful IPO, new products, enhanced experiences and a move into new markets. In 2013, he has his eye on Europe and mobile.

Another thing that doesn’t bother him is digital competition. When asked about the possibility of Google or Facebook stealing away local ad dollars, everyone at Yelp brushed it off. The company’s CFO says it’s the Yellow Pages and Valpak that stand between them and local ad dollars not online search or social media.

What I’ve always found confusing about Yelp is the mix of information. I can use Yelp to find a nearby restaurant that suits my tastes and budget or I can use it to find a plastic surgeon. That’s weird, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to separate the service providers from the restaurants and retail stores?

COO Geoff Donaker has this to say on that:

“Many times over the years, people have asked us, don’t you really want to emphasize the plumbing part of your business, or the doctor part of your business, relative to restaurants? And in fact it’s the opposite. Because what we tend to find is that restaurants is the easiest point of entry. All of us are going to eat out multiple times this week. And to the extent that we can help them find a great sushi place this week, next week when you’re looking for a doctor or a plumber, you’ll actually also turn to Yelp.”

The dollars may not be where they’d like them to be right now, but Yelp feels like the little engine that could. Seven years after launch, they’re still chugging away, slowly building their site into the biggest recommendation engine on the web. Shows you how far you can go with a simple plan and a positive attitude.