Yelp has recently rolled out a new video review feature to their business listing categories that allows users to upload a short video reviews, along with or instead of a photo.
Videos can be anywhere from 3-12 seconds long and would allow users to make review posts from their mobile devices. Yelp's executives hope that this new feature will “help reviewers fully capture the atmosphere of a restaurant, store or other small businesses, better than they could with a photo alone."
Because over 70% of Yelp's review photo uploads already come from mobile devices, this new feature seems like a natural transition toward offering a better, further engaging experience for users who are trying to gain more insight into a particular business or service. Yelp's service is designed to filter out any inappropriate user posts, just like it does with current review system.
More accurate reviews of businesses will allow users to make better decision when selecting which business should or should get their dollars. Hopefully, this will make it easier to further weed out businesses that provide poor service and bad customer experiences.
From the birds eye view, this feature sounds like a decent idea, however, just like all of Yelp's other reviews, the draw backs are that none of the information, including the reviews themselves, photos and videos can be verified for accuracy. Unlike the Google review services that only allows verified users to post review, Yelps leaves their gates open to all users and all types of reviews. This raises the question, what prevents individuals with bad agendas from posting negative reviews to purposely harm a business? Only now, they have the option of further harm with a video upload.
Currently, first-time reviews that aren't active on Yelp frequently have their reviews “sandbagged", so their review has less impact on a business's overall score. Some say that even first-time reviewers that post video reviews will have their review weighted more than text-only or text-and-photo reviews by a first-time reviewer.
Further more, to further promote the new video review feature, Yelp plans on promoting the position of business listings with video reviews to the top of the pack, creating a unbalanced representation for businesses with higher star reviews. Considering that video reviews aren't verified, there is a very real opportunity for Black Hat Search Engine Optimization and review spam.