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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Feb 18 2012 17:24:41

eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings

By: David Steiner
Sponsored Link
We received quite a few emails in the past several hours referencing a thread on eBay discussing eBay's falling listing counts over the past several days - down from roughly 141 million listings to about 70 million listings. First off, the listings haven't dropped. They're still there, they just aren't being counted properly by the auction tracking sites that people are looking at. Of course, it's not really the fault of these sites, since eBay isn't counting them properly either.



Here's a quick primer in how these auction counters work. With a few minor variations, sites like Medved, PSU and AuctionNews.org key off of this page on eBay: http://listings.ebay.com  

You'll notice the top level categories, with secondary categories underneath. All of them display the number of listings in parentheses to the right. For example, at 4:30pm ET, the Antiques category showed 396,333 listings. That total is the sum of all of the subcategories under Antiques. Auction counters scrape this page periodically, add up all of the top level categories, and plot them on a graph on their sites. Right now, the three tracking sites are showing a precipitous listings drop beginning February 12th. So where did those listings go?

In this case, eBay has broken their own page, because none of the numbers displayed on http://listings.ebay.com are correct. At roughly 4:30pm ET, I added up all of the top level categories and the count came to 67,243,754. If you look at, for example, Books & Manuscripts, under the Antiques category, you will see roughly 10,000 listings (10,079 at 4:30). But if you click on the link for Books & Manuscripts, you will find over 25,400 listings. That's a difference of 15k listings and explains why the category counts on http://listings.ebay.com are not showing - the top level categories are using secondary category counts that are wrong.

Try that for every subcategory, and you'll see the same phenomenon. More than half of the search results are not displaying on the main listings directory page. Those listings really are there (for those of you with a free weekend, be my guest adding them up) - so why aren't they showing?

Well, list-counting sites are great for watching long-term trends on eBay, but unfortunately, when eBay is messing around with their site (and there is a seller release coming up soon) outside programs tend to break. eBay has been known to 'break' certain areas of their site on purpose, especially when it can "ball up" services that are scraping eBay's site - a practice eBay frowns upon.

Chances are, the listings page will get fixed at some point, and all of the auction trackers will pop back up over 140 million listings. Just don't count on it getting fixed on a weekend.



Comments (11) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: jpv1234me This user has validated their user name.
       
Sat Feb 18 17:58:24 2012
ebay itself is broken…
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Sat Feb 18 18:08:34 2012
I am merely guessing but....

Maybe after eBay inserts the advertising into listings it makes the listings invisible to their internal counters.

It would be about the millionth time eBay's bumbling technical department implemented something that caused something else in their system not to function properly.
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Sat Feb 18 18:22:11 2012
A far, far more serious problem that EB seems reluctant to investigate and report is the program of listings actually disappearing from the system at an undetermined point after relisting.

Frankly, I could less whether the listing counting services say there are 10 million, 100 million, or 1 billion ebafia listings.

What I do care about is constantly having to inventory my listings searching for listings that just literally went poof in the Utah sand.

What will it take for ebafia to give a damn about its sellers?
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
       Web Site
Sat Feb 18 18:34:18 2012
Oh, gee, and here I was thinking that maybe someone at eBay had forgotten to activate the phony listing algorithm. It seems that it is simply another demonstration of eBay's incompetent programming that is causing the effect. Regardless, the Ho will not be pleased. Still, it will give him another opportunity to wave his mobile around as he spins this story to the mostly gullible Wall Street analysts.

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Sat Feb 18 21:09:18 2012
Don't be too tough on ebay.
Other sites muck around with the feeds to those sites or even delete them or disable them completely.

Eg Bonanza, etsy and ioffer all stopped feeds to those sites on purpose.

Add in the fact that PSU never adds new sites or ''non-niche'' sites and they become useless,

And auctionnews.org only seems to count listings on the ebid site that handles sales in Yugoslavia. Which is why it always understates them.


Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Feb 19 01:18:26 2012
Gee....I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that views are WAY DOWN!  I can list for free and I don't bother - its wasted motion!
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Feb 19 01:23:41 2012
With respect, surely the inaccuracies or otherwise of listing counts on eBay are of very little significance to anyone but Wall Street analysts who don't know any better. We know there are many.

The questions which have never been answered are
1. How many or what percentage of paid listings are actually findable AND get seen?
2. What is the average sell through rate on the improved eBay of today?
3. When you calculate your cost of sale on an item what percentage is

(a)basis,
(b)what percentage goes to eBay/PayPal (IF, FVF, Store subscription fees prorated plus payment processing,)
(c)what percentage is overhead (S&H, time to list, photograph etc) and
(d)what percentage is  profit?

For question #3
(a)& (c) will not change much no matter where you sell but
(d) is dependent on (b) and how many times you had to pay to relist.

Finally who gets the lions share?



Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Feb 19 12:56:22 2012
maybe ebay needs to sabotage independent analysis so they can maintain the pretense of vitality on their site. how's that?
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Sun Feb 19 14:27:39 2012
Remember ''DSR Watch''? http://www.dsrwatch.com

When it first arrived on the scene, it was an easy way to get a very granular report of your (or anyone's) DSR scores.

Then, eBay disabled the bit of code in the API that was providing DSR scores down to the 1/100th of a percent.

Apparently ''too much information'' is a bad thing. eBay must have figured that it was best to keep sellers in the dark on such matters.

''He who controls the information controls your destiny'' ... I suppose.
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Sun Feb 19 15:40:53 2012
DSR Watch is associated with Channel Advisor.

eBay is an investor in Channel Advisor, so it is not surprising that DSR Watch reports were made less granular.

eBay management does not want sellers having access to more information than eBay currently allows sellers to access through their dashboard.

Channel Advisor's DSR Watch no longer provides information which is more granular than eBay allows because eBay obviously asserted their authority as an investor in Channel Advisor.
Perminate Link for eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings   eBay Auction Counts: The Lost Listings
by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Feb 20 02:28:33 2012

Maybe the 70 million listings are the only ones visitors can see, and the other 71 million are hidden down in Ebay's dungeon away from searching eyes.

Relists especially seem to disappear.  


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