Urbanspoon to Bite into Yelp, Restaurant Review Space, in Zagat Deal


Urbanspoon to Bite into Yelp, Restaurant Review Space, in Zagat Deal - Kandessa

Urbanspoon’s recent deal with Zagat will provide the company with much needed fighting power to better compete with the more prominent and popular Yelp review website. The Zagat deal, announced September 1, gives Urbanspoon excerpts from 25,000 Zagat reviews.

Yelp was more open and accessible to restaurant business this year by making an appearance at the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago in May. Heated debate ensued at a speaker panel there on whether Yelp is good or bad for the industry; regardless, Yelp's presence provided a more positive spin with restaurateurs, and its campaign at the NRA Show 2011 aimed at helping businesses understand how to manage Yelp listings was valuable.

Yelp's more transparent stance is helping the company fend off criticisms about prominently displaying negative reviews of restaurants not advertising with Yelp. Past accusations include using negative reviews as leverage and as a tool for its advertising sales team to negotiate advertising from restaurants. Yelp has also faced criticism of not reacting to false reviews or penalizing restaurauteurs that respond to negative reviews.

According to Yelp, 53 million users use Yelp's reviews to learn and critique local businesses.

Urbanspoon is strictly a restaurant review site but has nearly 25 million users, according to Conrad Saam, marketing director for Urbanspoon.  "For decades, Zagat surveys have brought the voice of diners into the restaurant review conversation," says Saam. "Partnering with them is an obvious extension of Urbanspoon's democratization of restaurant review information."

For Urbanspoon, the Zagat deal will help accelerate its penetration into the Yelp-dominated space. Yelp, with nearly 16 million visitors monthly, has four times the traffic of Urbanspoon.* The 25,000 Zagat reviews will give Urbanspoon ammunition both in terms of review content and search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities.

Yelp's Saam says that half of the company's users are mobile, more than Yelp's mobile traffic ratio. TechCrunch reported in February that 35 percent of Yelp's local searches originated from mobile.

The online restaurant review and reputation portals segment has become more dynamic. This year, Google Places launched a prominent campaign with restaurant companies to "educate" them on how to utilize and "claim" place pages at the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. The Google Places platform is apt to catch on quickly with avid Google followers because of the ease of integration with Google's search engine, Google Maps and Google Chrome, its fast web browser.

Bing™, Yahoo and Citysearch are other popular websites that feature internal and/or external user reviews to create business listings and place pages.

In February, Yelp announced the integration of OpenTable's reservation system into its app. According to Mashable, a technology and all things social online magazine, the app was well received, and has near seamless integration.  For Urbanspoon, already featuring RezBook reservation capabilities, the challenges keep mounting. However, further strategic initiatives—like this Zagat deal—may soon close the gap with foodies.

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* Quantcast data

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Sources: Urbanspoon, Kandessa Media, Dotted Line

Copyright: Kandessa Media. All rights reserved.

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