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eBay Brings Behavioral Ad Targeting to Mobile App

eBay has lots of data about its shoppers, and it has millions of mobile shoppers per month with 260 million global app downloads. This fall, it’s putting the two together to offer advertisers an opportunity to target buyers who use the eBay apps to shop on mobile devices.

eBay has announced eBay Mobile Advertising, a “native experience” that will be seamlessly integrated into the new mobile app user experience.

Anyone who has used mobile apps on their smartphone, Kindle or tablet has probably seen plenty of ads. The free, popular WeatherBug app, for example, which lets you check the weather on the go, displays ads on the bottom of the screen.

But in today’s environment, large brands want to reach shoppers across devices, and they want to target ads based on past shopping behavior. eBay said that’s what makes its ad program special. “eBay is one of the only commerce platforms that can create a complete map of each shopper’s user experience across all platforms and devices,” it says.

It emphasizes the fact that unlike other ad networks such as Google, eBay uses “first party data” to target an advertiser’s ideal audience – meaning its own data about its own shoppers. “As one of the only ad-targeting platforms to naturally possess first-party data, we have enormous insight into user interests and intent based on actual shopping and purchase behavior. In fact, eBay tracks over 290 million hours of shopping activity each month.”

eBay plans to target the ads on its forthcoming network so it can serve the “right” ad to the “right” shopper. eBay uses proprietary user data to promote merchants’ products to users who previously bought or showed interest in a related item on eBay. eBay’s Stephen Howard-Sarin told AdWeek last year it was looking to commercialize that data to help advertisers reach eBay shoppers – though eBay has been sharing information about visitors’ past activities with its partners in order to serve up targeted advertisements since at least as far back as 2007.

A sales pitch on its website explains how eBay Mobile Advertising helps brands target shoppers:

From moms and small business owners to entertainment aficionados and tech fanatics, we have your ideal audience at scale. By partnering with eBay, you’ll have access to over 60 predefined audience segments, all powered by our real commerce data. If your ideal audience isn’t one of our predefined segments, no problem! We can create a custom segment for you or uncover your ideal audience via eBay’s Audience Discovery tool. Whatever segment you’re interested in, our data and media solutions will help you reach them – both on and off eBay.

eBay has already let in a limited number of companies advertise within the app, including GEICO. This fall, eBay will open the program to all interested advertisers. The payoff, eBay explains: eBay mobile users are engaged, spending three times the amount of time on eBay compared to the nearest competitor and spending more money.

eBay Mobile Advertising will be available on smartphones (iOS and Androids in 2014), tablets (coming soon in 2015) and mobile Web. “It’s an opportunity for brands to connect with eBay users like never before,” according to the company.

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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/.