adMarketplace Replaces eBay Keyword Program, Sellers Adjust
By Ina Steiner
When eBay dropped its Keywords paid-search program in September, sellers had the option of continuing to use adMarketplace, which had powered the program for eBay since 2003. Rather than ads appearing on the eBay site, however, adMarketplace ads now appear on partner sites like Ask.com. Like its predecessor, the AMP Keyword program drives traffic to sellers' eBay listings.
Recently, some sellers have expressed frustration on eBay discussion boards about the program, complaining that they can't get answers about where exactly their ads are appearing. eBay had given premium Store owners free credits to use toward the eBay Keywords. The change to a fee-based program appears to be the cause of at least some of seller questions. AuctionBytes talked to adMarketplace president Adam Epstein to get some clarification on how the program works.
Epstein said that, like other self-service ad services, advertisers deposit funds to activate their account and create ads. Sellers choose keywords and how much they are willing to pay for ad clicks (just like the Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing programs). Sellers are not able to select the websites on which their ads will appear. Rather, the adMarketplace program does "real-time optimization."
"Our ads are currently displayed on Ask, Looksmart and Miva, along with several other shopping-specific inventory partners. We also have deals in place with Google and MSN and will be integrated with them by end of Q4," Epstein said. "Still, its misleading to tell users that they can simply go to a site, type in a keyword and see their ad, because we are constantly optimizing our partners to make sure we are delivering the highest performing inventory to our advertisers at all times."
Epstein said the program figures out where the keywords are getting the best results for the best money, and displays the ads there. "We cannot predict where a particular ad will appear on our network because we buy certain keywords from certain partners depending on performance, cost, etc. And this changes as the metrics change."
adMarketplace reports on all clicks and deducts funds from users' accounts when the clicks occur. "Our goal is to report on clicks within 12 hours of their occurrence," Epstein said. Sellers can log in and see how many clicks they are getting, but they are unable to find out where those ads were displayed, leading to frustration among users.
Epstein said over 90 percent of the eBay sellers who use adMarketplace are "happy and re-upping, and think it was a great switch." He believes the sellers who aren't happy are the ones who aren't getting any clicks due to low bid amounts. "Most users who aren't getting delivery either need to (1) bid on more keywords or (2) bid more for keywords. And we are happy to discuss our distribution partners - what we can't do is say: go to X site and see your ad. I know this is frustrating for some folks who are used to seeing their ads displayed on eBay, but that's the tradeoff for higher performing inventory."
In response to the company's suggestion that clients should increase their bids, eBay Powerseller Gary Richardson said, "My campaigns have not changed. I have over 200 keywords for sunglasses, I have raised bids on those keywords, to me that is a surefire indicator that the program is not working and that ads are being displayed in places that have lower quality placement than the previous keyword program. I take real offence at Mr. Epstein's implied reference that disgruntled PowerSellers need to bid more or ad more keywords. Why should I have to bid more for real estate less valuable than an eBay page with shoppers ready to buy?"
Epstein said adMarketplace is rolling out a feature this week that will allow advertisers to search for their keywords on the adMarketplace website and see how their ads appear. They will be able to click on those ads without being charged. This will allow sellers to make sure their ads are displaying as they should, and Epstein hopes it will help satisfy some customers' concerns.
Epstein said adMarketplace will work with sellers to help them optimize their campaigns, and will refund sellers their unused balance if they are unhappy with the program.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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