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Yelp to run display ads in the US on its mobile app, starting next week

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

March 1, 2013 | 3 min read

The review website Yelp will start hosting display ads in the US on its mobile app next week .

Taco Bell ad on Yelp

InterContinental Hotels Group and Taco Bell will be the first advertisers in the new ad format, with IHG's ads likely starting to appear on Monday and Taco Bell's on Thursday.

The two will be exclusive advertisers within their given Yelp category, says AdAge - all ads served while Yelpers make travel-related searches will be from IHG while Taco Bell will serve all ads in the restaurant category.

No word yet of similar plans in the UK where Yelp launched three years ago. A spokeswoman said, "We do not currently have any brands taking advantage of the display ads on mobile in the UK."

A third US advertiser, a drinks company, is close to a similar branding deal that would start in mid-March, executives close to the two companies said.

The IHG and Taco Bell exclusive deals will last all March. On April 1, the vehicle will become available to all buyers, said AdAge, with features such as geo-targeting and cross-device tracking via activity on users' Yelp accounts.

Those features are not available to the first advertisers. But IHG, Taco Bell and the alcohol company see this month-long exclusive as a great way to reach Yelp's large mobile audience.

Just less than half (45%) of Yelp searches are from mobiles, the company said, with weekends the peak. The service was accessed in the US on 9.2 million unique mobile devices last quarter.

Yelp is the 24th largest mobile media property, according to digital analytics firm comScore.

Yelp's head of display sales Preston Junger told AdAge "The value of our overall audience is the value that Taco Bell sees."

Advertisers wanted this, he said . Brands had been pushing Yelp to offer this on its app for months, he said.

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