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Yelp Embraces Neural Networks To Make Consumers Happier

October 25, 2023

1 min 51 sec read
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It's beginning to sound like a broken record as more and more companies enlist artificial intelligence to help with everything these days, but hey, if it works, it works.

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Yelp has announced plans to utilize neural networks to make ad matching, search results, photo classification, the Yelp Waitlist, and just about everything Yelp-related better than ever. You know, Yelp on steroids.

Yelp expects new advances in AI to be beneficial for consumers and businesses.

For consumers, search results are expected to be way more relevant and closer to the original search intent, photos will better depict what consumers can expect from a business, and there should be more accurate estimates for consumers who use Yelp Waitlist for important stuff like checking out live wait times for their favorite restaurants.

Businesses benefit by grabbing more "effective and cost-efficient advertising that showcases the most relevant photos to their potential customers."

Using neural networks isn't entirely new to Yelp. They've been doing it a lot within the last year to "scale and train the model with exponentially more data to drive more accurate matching." In fact, Yelp says they adopted neural networks for image classification a long time ago and have been "using them for almost a decade to help categorize photos for restaurants, and more recently food and nightlife businesses."

This current move is just a variation on a theme. With the improvements in AI, Yelp is expanding and now plans to be able to process years' worth of information rather than months.

Yelp recently released an update that uses neural networks to "intelligently" identify photo content, select the best ones for ads based on several factors that make consumers happy, and then match their search intent more effectively. For businesses that advertise locally, Yelp's photo selector tool for ads has resulted in a "significant increase in clickthrough rates for advertisers" and a decrease in the cost per click all the way around.

Yelp believes it is in a unique position because its massive amount of reliable user-provided content and complex internal data gives it the ability to take advantage of all the technology available, including neural networks, large language models (LLM), and other AI models, to allow them to design and build solutions and features that make Yelp better.

Like many companies these days, Yelp insists that neural networks will help them grow as they continue to invest in a better search experience. Their goal is to create something that can mimic language and even understand the nuances of language. Read: Something more human.

If Yelp has its way, we'll be able to count on them and their neural network friends to accurately point us to the best restaurants and dance clubs in town.

We're wondering how long before the hostesses, maître ds, and bouncers are AI-driven.

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