With Wi-Fi, Yelp Adds More Muscle to Growing Platform

Yelp added Wi-Fi to its growing set of value added, “beyond advertising” SMB features today, acquiring Turnstyle Analytics for $20 Million in cash. The Toronto-based company, which competes with other nascent SMB Wi-Fi providers such ZenReach and WaveSpot, has 30 employees.

Wi-Fi definitely fits in Yelp’s present mission statement of “connecting people with great local businesses.” While the jury is still out on Wi-Fi as a winning standalone business, it works well with other efforts to determine advertiser attribution.

It also fleshes out a platform for those advertisers that might have otherwise been content to work with Google and/or Facebook as a “one stop shop.” The platform strategy has also been embraced by other local mainstays, such as YP, Vistaprint, Constant Contact, Yext, etc.

Yelp’s development of a platform, of course, represents a major shift in strategy for a company that was almost entirely about SMB and brand advertising on top of reviews until early last year. Some of the new features in the platform have certainly moved beyond advertising. Among them:

1. Food delivery/pickup
2. Restaurant reservations
3. Table ready alerts (i.e. last month’s purchase of “Nowait”)
4. Request for Quotes
5. Loyalty services (i.e. the deal with Empyr to partner on Yelp Cash Back).

But advertising remains front and center. In 4Q 2016, advertising represented $176.5 million of Yelp’s 4Q revenues, while subscriptions and services represented $1.7 million.

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