Yelp will use AI to generate restaurant descriptions

The short summaries are one of several new AI-powered features on the review site that are designed to make it easier for consumers to find what they're looking for.
Yelp's AI-generated business summaries are based on recent reviews. | Image courtesy of Yelp

Business review site Yelp on Tuesday said it would start using artificial intelligence to generate descriptions of restaurants and other businesses on its platform. 

The one-sentence summaries are based on recent Yelp reviews and appear at the top of a restaurant’s page, providing a brief overview of the menu and atmosphere.

Troublemakers Cocina in Milwaukee, for instance, is an “eatery with fresh ingredients and craft beer pairings, famous for its taco platter,” according to Yelp. Kuma’s Corner in Chicago is a “burger joint with metal music vibe, extensive menu and craft beer selection.”

Yelp said the synopses are designed to help consumers find what they’re looking for. As of now, businesses are not able to change those summaries, but if they believe something is inaccurate, they should contact Yelp support, said Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh, SVP of consumer product at Yelp, in an emailed statement.


Summaries are based on recent reviews. | All images courtesy of Yelp

The AI-penned descriptions are one of more than 20 new features unveiled Tuesday by Yelp, many of which likewise involve AI. For example, the technology will now be used to populate consumers’ Yelp feeds with relevant photos and to help restaurants develop an advertising strategy. 

Though the features are new, Yelp’s investment in AI is not. The company has been using the technology for years to do things like recommend dishes, moderate content and more, with the goal of showing users more relevant content. An AI tool designed to select the best photo to display in an ad, for instance, yielded a “significant increase” in click-through rates, according to a November letter to Yelp shareholders.

Here’s a look at some of the other updates making their way to Yelp.

A more visual experience

Yelp is reorienting its user interface around photos and videos. On consumers’ home feeds, AI will surface photos taken by nearby Yelp users to help people discover new restaurants. In the next few months, this feature will expand to include videos shot by users, Yelp said. Searching for restaurants or cuisines will also return results that are more photo-heavy than before.

The revamped home feed and search are live now on iOS and coming soon to Android phones.

yelp home feed

The home feed is more photo-centric. 

More data for businesses

Restaurant owners logging on to Yelp will find more data on their homepage. Insights will include a page’s impressions and pageviews; audience data, such as which neighborhoods have the most customers searching for the business and popular search terms in the area; and insights on competitors, like how a restaurant’s page visits compare to those of similar businesses over time.

Yelp for Business

A look at Yelp's new dashboard for businesses.

AI-powered ad budgets

Restaurants wanting to advertise on Yelp can now get some help from AI. The site’s new AI-powered “smart budgets” will recommend a budget based on those of similar businesses, taking into account a restaurant’s rating, category, listing age, region and more. It will then come up with the advertising option with the highest potential ROI. 

Yelp smart budgets

AI provides a guide for advertisers.

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