Getting on the Map: The Impact of Online Listings on Business Performance
We evaluate the extent to which small businesses maintain an online presence, looking at restaurant listings on a major online review platform. While the majority of restaurants have an online presence, we find that roughly 18 percent in our sample have no presence as of the end of 2017, despite being able to list their business for free. Using temporal variation in a restaurant's online presence as well as a natural experiment arising from a data acquisition that led over a thousand businesses to be added to the platform, we find that maintaining an online presence is valuable for small businesses. Establishing an online presence leads to a 5% revenue increase. Using data on customer reviews post-add, we explore potential channels that could explain why restaurants continue to remain offline despite potential benefits from digital representation. Consistent with models of voluntary disclosure, we find that businesses that had stayed offline until the acquisition ended up having lower ratings, on average, than those that added themselves or were added by customers.
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Some businesses maintain an online presence, and some do not. In Getting on the Map: The Impact of Online Listings on Business...