Selecting Cover Images for Restaurant Reviews: AI vs. Wisdom of the Crowd

Manufacturing & Service Operations Management 26(1), pp 330-349.

49 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2021 Last revised: 24 Jan 2024

See all articles by Warut Khern-am-nuai

Warut Khern-am-nuai

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Hyunji So

McGill University

Maxime C. Cohen

Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Yossiri Adulyasak

HEC Montréal

Date Written: July 30, 2023

Abstract

Restaurant review platforms, such as Yelp and Tripadvisor, routinely receive large numbers of photos in their review submissions. These photos provide significant value for users who seek to compare restaurants. In this context, the choice of cover images (i.e., representative photos of the restaurants) can greatly influence the level of user engagement on the platform. Unfortunately, selecting these images can be time consuming and often requires human intervention. At the same time, it is challenging to develop a systematic approach to assess the effectiveness of the selected images. In this paper, we collaborate with a large review platform in Asia to investigate this problem. We discuss two image selection approaches, namely crowd-based and AI-based systems. The AI-based system we use learn complex latent image features, which is further enhanced by transfer learning to overcome the scarcity of labeled data. We collaborate with the platform to deploy our AI-based system through a randomized field experiment to carefully compare both systems. We find that the AI-based system outperforms the crowd-based counterpart and boosts user engagement by 12.43%-16.05% on average. We then conduct empirical analyses on observational data to identify the underlying mechanisms that drive the superior performance of the AI-based system. Finally, we infer from our findings that the AI-based system outperforms the crowd-based system for restaurants with a (i) longer tenure on the platform, (ii) limited number of user-generated photos, (iii) lower star rating, and (iv) lower user engagement during the crowd-based system.

Keywords: Online review platforms, user-generated photos, deep learning, wisdom of the crowds

Suggested Citation

Khern-am-nuai, Warut and So, Hyunji and Cohen, Maxime C. and Adulyasak, Yossiri, Selecting Cover Images for Restaurant Reviews: AI vs. Wisdom of the Crowd (July 30, 2023). Manufacturing & Service Operations Management 26(1), pp 330-349., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3808667 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3808667

Warut Khern-am-nuai

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, Quebec H3A1G5 H3A 2M1
Canada

Hyunji So

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal
Canada

Maxime C. Cohen (Contact Author)

Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Yossiri Adulyasak

HEC Montréal ( email )

3000, Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine
Montreal, Quebec H2X 2L3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://yossiri.info/

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