Just as we get news of some consolidation in the local content market in the UK, some news of expansion, too: Qype, the Yelp of Europe (and Yelp’s closest competitor in the region), today announced that the number of places reviewed on its site has reached 860,000, with the number of monthly unique visitors now at 25 million. It claims that this makes it the biggest reviews site in the region, about five times bigger than its closest competitor, the U.S.-based Yelp.
And while companies like Groupon are trying to move beyond the daily deal to become the platform for local commerce, Qype is doubling-down on the concept, expanding its own deals offerings with a free service to attract more local businesses to the concept.
Qype is selling this newest class of daily deals — available from next week in Germany and then rolled out “rapidly to the UK and France — as part of its “Platinum package”. Businesses pay a fee for a premium listing on Qype’s site, and in addition to that they are given the ability to send out a free daily deal through the site’s QypeDeals service. By free, Qype means the business gets to keep all of the revenues for purchased deals — rather than paying Qype a commission on each.
QypeDeals is the product of Qype’s acquisition of Cooledeals a year ago, CEO Ian Brotherston tells me. “This is now the completion of the process of fully integrating that business,” he says.
Over the last year, Qype has moved beyond offering basic user-generated reviews of restaurants, events and other local businesses, and has been growing the number of services it offers to business users. Revenues from advertising on the site has grown by 500 percent in the last year, Brotherston says.
Brotherston says that this move for more monetization is inevitable as reviews businesses like its own and Yelp’s continue to mature.
He also points out that this trend may have been part of the reason behind UpMyStreet getting sold on to Zoopla: “It seems to reflect a view that if you are in the local space now, you need to be monetising,” he says. “I always felt that UpMyStreet had good, interesting data, but was never sure how they made money – whereas Zoopla had a much stronger monetization proposition. Local businesses need to provide great data to consumers within their area; but they need to be real businesses as well.”
As for Qype, the number of paying business customers on its books is now 400,000 and is growing by 10,000 each month, and revenues have grown by 93 percent. Brotherston says that Qype is on track for similar growth this year, too — but the company is not yet profitable, and doesn’t report revenues in actual terms.
There are some other significant numbers that Qype is hitting, however. Qype these days says that it is seeing some 25 million unique visitors monthly to its site. And its mobile business now contributes one-quarter of all its revenues: its mobile apps are now installed on some four million devices — about six times as many as Yelp has in Europe. Mobile is also becoming an important platform for users to contribute to the site, too: some 30 percent of reviews are now written from mobile devices, the company says. Its user-generated reviews are continuing to expand, with a new one posted about every 30 seconds across some 166,000 cities and towns in its database.
“The reality is that we are becoming a full-service provider for our small to medium businesses,” he says. That is being driven by QypeDeals but also includes other kinds of business promotions on both its web and mobile sites.
Brotherston says that a lot of the interest in its own deals service comes from businesses that tried Groupon or another service but have found it lacking in functionality: businesses, he says, “want to have more control over how, when and what they promote through deals. [Our] approach gives them more control and is more efficient for us.”
Under QypeDeals, businesses can create a single a one-day deal, and can specify details like the number of deals available. The only requirement, Qype says, is a minimum discount of 50 percent. Subsequent deals after the first are not sold on commission, either: businesses are instead charged on a fixed fee basis, Qype says, regardless of how many get sold.
Qype is a social network based around user reviews of businesses and places. Founded in 2005 by German entrepreneur Stephan Uhrenbacher, the site allows its users to browse a database of locations and see at a glance those which have been most favourably rated by the community. Members of the site can add new places to the existing database, rate and review businesses, add videos and photos and engage with the community via message boards, groups and messaging. The site also has...