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Yelp’s New Campaign Looks to Drive Use Beyond Restaurants

Yelp next week will begin a $50 million national ad campaign designed to encourage people to use its service for more than just restaurant reviews.

Building on its first national TV campaign last year, Yelp this time will include video ads on Snapchat and Instagram.

Ben Sinclair, who plays a Brooklyn pot dealer in HBO’s “High Maintenance,” again appears in humorous vignettes about finding a dentist, a yoga instructor and a hotel. 

“The reason we extended into some of the areas we selected like hotel and dentist is we are seeing more and more people begin to use Yelp in those areas, so we are understanding there is a natural need for those and we want to amplify that,” said Brian Osborn, VP-consumer marketing at Yelp. “It also just helps reinforce Yelp’s reach beyond just your home and where you live. We selected hotel for that reason. We have also been spending more energy to focus on the medical side and helping people make that choice, too.”

The campaign was created by San Francisco-based Reid Sheehan Latimer & Crew, which created Yelp’s campaign last year.

The company’s initial campaign increased brand awareness to 41% at the end of the fourth quarter from 26% when it debuted, Yelp said, citing Nielsen metrics. Mr. Osborn declined to provide more recent figures, but said a new survey reveals key indicators like awareness, familiarity and consideration for Yelp are at their highest levels since the campaign last year.

Yelp has seemingly reversed its fortunes since the time of its first big ad campaign. Last summer its stock plummeted more than 17% after the company announced that it was discontinuing its display ad business in favor of native advertising and other products.

The company also confronted negative public perception thanks in large part to a documentary that was drumming up publicity by comparing Yelp to the Italian mafia.

Early last month, however, Yelp surprised investors with better-than-expected quarterly earnings that were three times Wall Street expectations. User reviews also increased 31% over a year earlier, pushing the total number of Yelp reviews over 100 million for the first time.

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