Social Media Mistakes : Yelp Paid Ads Gone Wrong

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We do a fair bit of monitoring and mitigating of crowdsourcing review sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google’s Business Reviews for our clients.  When an online review site, such as Yelp, offers paid advertising things will go wrong.

Jersey Mike's Subs gets an unearned negative review rating ( 1 out of 5) on Yelp.
Jersey Mike’s Subs gets an unearned negative review rating ( 1 out of 5) on Yelp.

The photo that I just showed you is a screen grab of .  I have contacted Yelp and Jersey Mike’s about this.  So maybe it will get taken down and correctly soon.  I recently ran across a review on Yelp of a local Jersey Mike’s. It had a review and a photo.  The photo caught my eye because it showed a drive up window.  Jersey Mike’s doesn’t have a drive up window.  It is located in the middle of a small strip mall.  I read the review and it too specifically mentioned the drive up window.  I looked closer at the photo.  The server in the window was clearing wearing a Sonic cap.  This low rating review ( 1 out of a scale of 5) was NOT for Jersey Mike’s. It was for Sonic.  How did this happen? Easy…  Paid Advertising.

Let me explain in more detail.  If a business is not paying for advertising, then one of the downsides of the free account is that similar businesses close to you who do opt into Yelp’s paid advertising will appear on your listing.


Sonic's Drive-In ( Garden of the Gods Rd location in Colorado Springs) listing on Yelp.
Sonic’s Drive-In ( Garden of the Gods Rd location in Colorado Springs) listing on Yelp.

This is a photo of Sonic’s Yelp listing.  Notice the ads for KFC and Wingstop?  These are paid ads of nearby restaurants.  In other words, these are Sonic’s direct competitors.  If Sonic would opt into Yelp’s paid advertising plans, these ads would not appear here.

Now are ready for the real burner? If you are already feeling like Jersey Mike’s Subs is a victim here, it gets worse. Check out this photo.

Jersey Mike's Subs on Yelp
Jersey Mike’s Subs on Yelp

Do you notice that there are no ads for local competitors displayed?  Yep… That is correct.  Jersey Mike’s Subs pays Yelp.  Ouch!!!  Pay good money and get an unearned negative review because an ad that you paid for showed up on someone else’s listing.

In full disclosure, neither Jersey Mike’s Subs or Sonic are clients of our at this time.  This was just a prime example of why we do not usually recommend that our clients pay to use Yelp.  I do believe that Yelp paid ads can have a positive  impact on your business, but you should not have to pay to not have your competitors ads in the middle of your listing.  You also should not pay good money to have your ad placed in such a way that you mistakenly earn negative review ratings.



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