Andy Sack: ‘Mr. Transparency’

Though I’m not sure he’d appreciate that moniker, I use it because Andy Sack has been remarkably honest in discussing the successes and misses of his site Judy’s Book. In his most recent such post he talks about how Yelp “out-marketed” Judy’s Book in terms of attracting user-generated content. Among the lessons:

  • Yelp’s focus on a younger demographic (more inclined to post reviews)
  • The use of offline, event marketing to generate a feeling of membership/community
  • Yelp’s initial focus on the restaurants category
  • Yelp’s initial use of more “social networking” features (profiles, photos)

. . . all contributed in Sack’s mind to Yelp’s success. However, Sack, who has changed his business model (it’s now a shopping/affiliate site), says that he remains skeptical of Yelp’s ability to monetize its page views:

I still have lots of questions for Jeremy [Stoppelman] about how he turns his site into a money making business. That said, Jeremy and his team have a good game and have the best shot at executing on the original idea of a community directory.

But Yelp probably doesn’t need to fully monetize its traffic. Its model is basically CPM advertising sold through a telephone channel (in house to date). Ultimately Yelp will likely be acquired by a bigger player that wants the brand, user-base, content or traffic — or all of the above.

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