Slate’s “Big Money” site (owned by the Washington Post) features an article on Yelp arguing it represents the successor to newspaper advertising in many respects:
[W]hile the online presentation of news has made tremendous leaps, ingenuity has not carried over to the business side. Online readers see (and ignore) the same lame online display ads they did 10 years ago, just more of them, and bigger. And the most expensive online advertising now actively blocks readers from viewing any content until the ad has fully played. This is progress?
The truth is, there has been progress in monetizing the Internet, beyond the display ads most people ignore. But that progress isn’t coming from newspaper companies. It’s coming from companies like Yelp. And Yelp is currently eating newspapers’ lunch . . .
Yelp’s founders have invented a Web site that cleaves local online advertising from journalism, right when journalism needs it most. Yelp is the evolution and replacement for the actually quite useful local advertising that used to appear in newspapers, only without the pesky journalism breaking up the ad pages. And Yelp is trying to make that separation permanent.
There’s something quite awkward and even strange about the angle the writer takes here: Yelp is contributing to the demise of newspapers. Yes, newspapers have not been as innovative as they could have been online. And, yes, Yelp has probably attracted some restaurant and other local ad dollars that at one time would have gone to newspapers. But Yelp is part of a much larger category of online advertising options for small business that collectively are drawing traditional media dollars to the Internet.
Yelp’s monetization efforts are not really novel (it uses display ads and sponsored listings) and the company has challenges on that side of the business, despite huge success with consumers.
To the extent that the author is arguing: newspapers should have created a local community site like Yelp . . . OK, sure. But what about Metromix?