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Yelp has just announced it’s adding video to its mobile app. In line with our prediction last year, this will involve short Vine-like videos for users to see and share local venue “ambiance” in richer ways than the previously-offered photos.

In fact, this move is meant to take some of the advantages that photos brought to the Yelp mobile experience, and simply add greater dimension (as video tends to do). From the company’s blog post announcing the feature:

Photos are a great way to add a visual element to your reviews, and Yelpers upload more than 23,000 of them from their mobile apps alone per day. We also know visuals are important to Yelpers since they spend 2.5 times longer on business pages with images than on those without. Now, using your iPhone (and soon Android) Yelp app, you can take short, 3-12 second videos of your favorite local businesses and better capture those details that photos alone can’t.

These short videos are great for conveying the atmosphere of a business, which helps others anticipate their experience before stopping by. For instance, imagine scrolling through pics of delicious dishes at a new bistro but not really being able to tell if the ambiance is more “date night” or “family friendly.” Yelp video is here to help.

We got this prediction right, but not because of some grand vision: It was only a matter of time. In this case, the age of social sharing, short viral videos, better smartphone cameras and ever-increasing connectivity have collided with local discovery. A logical move.

From our May 2013 post on Vine’s local potential:

But the real opportunity is for Yelp, given that profile-based local discovery is fitting for multimedia. That’s especially true in its leading category of restaurants as noted. An underutilized features of Yelp’s Enhanced Profiles — it’s leading source of revenue — is multimedia slide shows.

Look for Yelp to develop Vine-like video capability soon. This will equip users to capture sights and sounds, thereby creating a library of 1). points of user engagement 2). monetizable moments. For the latter, SMBs can redistribute or emphasize video within their Yelp profiles (paid feature).

There are lots of ways this could play out but i’m expecting Yelp to either partner, build or acquire something soon that brings low-barrier viral video production into the fold.

We’ll surely discuss this latest move during our SMB Digital Marketing Conference next month, where I’ll interview Yelp’s Pete Curzon to kick off a mobile session. Hope to see you there. 

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