Yelp Moves into Mobile Display Advertising

It has only been a few months since Yelp introduced ads at the top of search results in mobile. Now, according to AdAge, the company is adding mobile display ads to its mobile apps (and probably later its mobile website).

The first advertisers will be InterContinental Hotels (IHG) and Taco Bell. They will apparently have exclusive visibility in their respective categories throughout March. I was unable to find a live screenshot for either advertiser. However the left image below (via AdAge) shows a Taco Bell ad on the business profile page. On the right I've also captured a "search ad" and its presentation in Yelp's iPhone app. 

 Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 10.35.45 AM

What's not clear is whether Yelp advertisers will be exempt from having these new displays ads on their profiles (they are exempt from competing ads online). It will also be interesting to see how these ads perform. Will they be more brand oriented or more direct response (including special offers)? 

While Yelp users in the restaurants category, I'm guessing, are less likely to change their plans and go to Taco Bell hotel category users could well respond to an offer or incentive from IHG as they plan a hotel stay.   

It will also be interesting to see whether Yelp will sell its own ad inventory exclusively or whether the company will take third party mobile display ads. My guess is that Yelp probably would be concerned about the quality and relevance of third party mobile display ads and will be unlikely to take them for at least the near-term (if ever).