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Etsy Takes More Control over Sellers’ Paid Search Ads

Etsy is introducing a new paid-advertising option for sellers called “Promoted Listings.” It will replace Etsy’s cost per click Search Ads on October 1st.

With Promoted Listings, sellers will no longer select and manage keywords as part of their ad campaigns on Etsy. Instead, they will tell Etsy which items they want to promote, and Etsy will “make sure they are shown to the right buyers at the right time.”

How do they do that? Using the same relevancy factors they use in regular search results. “A listing’s title, tags, and bid are all taken into account when we determine which promoted listings to show,” an Etsy moderator explained.

The company said the new format incorporates sellers most requested Search Ads improvements, including giving sellers more control over how their budget is spent and simplifying keyword management.

Here is how Etsy describes the key features of Promoted Listings:

    • Flexible Pricing – With Promoted Listings, tell us how much you want to pay for a click on your listing and we’ll make sure you never pay more than that.


  • Keyword-less Campaigns – Managing keywords is a pain. With Promoted Listings all you have to do is tell us which items you want to promote and we’ll make sure they are shown to the right buyers at the right time.


  • Automatic Management – While you have the option to control every aspect of your campaign, promoting your listings can be as simple as setting a daily budget. With auto promotion and bidding, we’ll make sure you get as many clicks as possible for your budget.

The new Promoted Listings format launches on September 9th. Existing Search Ads campaigns will continue to run for now and can be edited, but sellers will not be able to create new Search Ads campaigns.

On October 1st, sellers who don’t sign up for Promoted Listings will have their Search Ads campaigns automatically transition to Promoted Listings campaigns. All Search Ads campaigns that haven’t transitioned by October 1st will receive automatic bids for the listings they are currently promoting. Automatic bids are based on current budgets and optimized to get the most clicks per campaign.

Search Ads campaigns that promote entire shops will auto-promote under Promoted Listings. (This means all new items added to their shop after October 1st will automatically be advertised.)

And Search Ads campaigns promoting only shop sections or individual listings won’t auto-promote under Promoted Listings. Sellers can decide to turn on auto-promote later by visiting their Shop Settings.

Get more details about the transition from Search Ads to Promoted Listings on this Etsy page.

Sellers had many questions. In response to one question about two sellers advertising similar items but one having a higher budget, an Etsy moderator replied:

When designing Promoted Listings, we took care to build a platform that allows sellers of all sizes to participate and find success. When determining which ads to show to a buyer we take many factors into account, including how well the listing matches the search, how frequently a listing has been shown today, and how much money is left in the budget.

While campaigns with higher budgets and bids may show up higher and more frequently, continuously showing the same listing to a buyer creates a poor user experience. There are many controls in the system to ensure that buyers see a good mix of the items being promoted.

Another seller asked whether Promoted Listings would get a boost in relevancy in the normal search results. The Etsy moderator responded in the negative. “Promoted Listings in no way influences normal search results, they are totally independent from one another. “More frequently and higher up” refers specifically to the placement within our designated ad slots.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.