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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 663 - December 10, 2003 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 2

Sellathon Adds eBay Snipe Alert to Auction Tracking Tool

By Ina Steiner
December 10, 2003

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eBay sellers may start getting alerts, "You have snipes." Sellathon added a feature to its ViewTracker service that informs eBay sellers when one of their auctions is going to be sniped by a bidder.

ViewTracker is a tracking device that allows merchants to measure traffic and analyze search behavior for their auctions. Once sellers sign up for ViewTracker (pricing is $49 for the Basic Edition, with a free 30-day trial), they place HTML code in their eBay listings. Sellathon can then monitor those listings and give sellers traffic information, such as search terms visitors used to find the auction.

Sellathon said it recently added a new feature to the service called Snipe Hunter. The alert notifies eBay sellers when someone is planning a last-second bid on an auction, called a snipe bid. The purpose of "sniping" is to place a bid so late in the auction that other interested parties do not have time to respond.

eBay bidders have been manually sniping auctions since the early days of eBay. In 1997, Dave Eccles created Cricket Jr to automate the process. Today, there are desktop sniping applications as well as hosted services that use their own fast connections to place snipe bids.

Wayne Yeager, CEO of Sellathon, said Snipe Hunter only works for snipes placed by hosted services. Sellers will not know if bidders plan to manually snipe an auction or if they use a desktop sniping application.

Chuck Eglinton is CEO of BidRobot, one such sniping service, and said the majority of snipers on eBay snipe manually. He said Snipe Hunter could potentially help auction sellers if it provided the User ID of the bidder. Some sellers have strong anti-sniping sentiments and might use such a tool to prevent snipe bidding on their auctions. If they knew the ID of the bidders, they could add them to their Blocked Bidder Lists so they would be unable to successfully place a bid on the item.

Yeager said Snipe Hunter does not reveal the identity of the bidder. He wasn't sure how sellers would use the information, but knowing that a product has attracted snipe bids or has been added to eBay Watch lists may be helpful.

Snipe Hunter alerts the seller to the snipe bid shortly after the bid has been placed, when the sniping service pings the auction to gather information. "There are characteristic features that a referring document has that always appear when someone is using a sniping service," Yeager said.

Sellathon's ViewTracker will also inform sellers when an auction has been added to a visitor's "My eBay" page. Visitors interested in an auction may place it in their eBay "Watch" list (in their My eBay profile), allowing them to monitor the auction before placing a bid. ViewTracker will alert the auction's seller when this happens.

Yeager has gotten a positive response to ViewTracker, reporting 2,000 users have signed up for the free trial, and he's been getting a 25% conversion to paid users. (The service launched last month.)

"Just as there are search-engine optimization services today for Web sites, I predict there will be auction optimization services," Yeager said. He's confident in the value of his service; he's already filed three patent applications to protect ViewTracker technology.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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