|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2795 - May 02, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 3|
eBay says new ads that began appearing on sellers' product listings on Tuesday would help the online marketplace become a top shopping destination, but sellers aren't so sure. eBay has been testing the ads on listing pages in various markets since last year, and officially launched them on eBay.com this week.
The ads appear prominently under the Seller Information section on the top right side of the View Item pages for which sellers pay eBay an insertion fee. eBay has been running what it calls "house ads" that advertise its own services on the site for some time.
Above: An eBay UK product listing for a wrist watch contains an ad for the retail website Wittlebee.
The model would be a newspaper's dream revenue model - not only does eBay not have to pay content creators, eBay actually charges them insertion fees for the content that brings shoppers to the site - and now it earns ad revenue on the user-generated content pages as well.
Triad Retail Media, a digital ad agency whose clients include big-brand retailers including Walmart, ToysRUs, and Sam's Club, sells and manages all of the on-site display advertising for eBay.com and eBay Motors. Triad also works with brands including Disney, Ford, Hasbro, Hallmark, Sony, Nintendo, Samsung, Toshiba, Purina, Maybelline, L'Oreal, P&G and Unilever.
eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff said the purpose of the ads was not to compete with sellers, but rather, to bring additional value to the View Item page.
"Through the extensive inventory provided by our sellers, buyers have tremendous opportunity to find exactly what they are looking for on eBay. Offering other means for buyers to navigate and find exactly what they're looking for helps eBay become a top shopping destination, which helps drive traffic to eBay and gives sellers more visibility. Our goal is make the ads additive to the shopping experience by raising the quality and relevance of ads that are displayed."
Shoppers who click on an ad in a product listing will see a new browser window open to make it easier for them to return to the listing. Hoff said eBay has taken its time in defining the strategy and analyzing test results for the program, "selecting the brands and ensuring a seamless (non-disruptive) customer experience."
"In addition," she said, "the team will be continually reviewing the program and the placements to ensure a positive experience in initial tests, the placement has shown positive results for eBay sellers."
She said using Triad to manage the display ads "does not impact site speed as heavily."
eBay's tests have shown that better formats/layouts and increased brand consideration give customers the information they need to make more informed purchases, according to Hoff. "It's important to note that these ads will be almost exclusively in the realm of brand advertising they will not be from other sellers on eBay with competing listings. They are meant to increase awareness of popular, reputable brands and cement in buyers' minds that eBay is a trusted shopping destination."
Sellers have reacted negatively to outside ads appearing on the all-important listing page where they do their best to convert shoppers into buyers. Wrote one seller on Tuesday, "I wouldn't mind ads if listings were free, but when I pay for a listing, I damn well expect that listing to advertise my goods, not anyone else's. If they want ads to subsidize free listings, fine, but not on real estate that a seller is already paying for."
In Australia, where eBay began testing such ads in September, it promised sellers in January that it would only run advertisements on the listings of sellers who do not pay an insertion fee on their listings.
Another seller expressed concern that buyers would be turned off by the amount of ads on the site. "The losers here are eBay buyers who will be put off by being inundated with advertising and sellers who will suffer lower sell through rates as eBay alienates more buyers," he wrote.
Hoff declined to provide ad rates, but a company that's been advertising on eBay said it charges on a CPM, not CPC basis. The cost varies by category, but on average is $5-$6 CPM for ads on View Item pages.
eBay has taken a "thoughtful, strategic approach to this roll-out to ensure a non-disruptive experience on eBay, Hoff said, "and our tests so far have shown positive results for eBay sellers' listings the majority of the time."
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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 email@example.com.
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eBay Tests More Ads on Item Pages in UK and US - April 11, 2012