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New eBay Ad Program Lets Sellers Pay for Added Exposure

eBay is testing a new program called Promoted Listings that lets sellers advertise their eBay listings. “Promoted listings gives you another way to attract more buyers to your items – beyond search results. This service – which is completely optional – gives sellers like you the chance for more buyers to see your items in new places on eBay.”

But the new program may leave many sellers wondering why they should pay extra – beyond the listing fees they already pay eBay – for exposure on the site.

The Promoted Listings beta test is by invitation only and will run through the holidays. There are few details about how it will work, but presumably it will be similar to Google AdWords but be available on eBay’s site only.

One seller speculated eBay may use revenue eventually generated from the Promoted Listings program to fund Google Product Listing Ads now that Google Shopping is no longer a free service – and now that eBay presumably has less organic traffic from Google since it punished eBay for its SEO practices.

Amazon and Etsy both have programs similar to Google AdWords that allow sellers to pay for additional exposure in search results (Amazon Sponsored Products and Etsy Search Ads, which is being changed and renamed Promoted Listings). To be clear, these programs offer sellers the opportunity to advertise their marketplace listings, unlike their other ad programs that let brands advertise their off-marketplace websites on Amazon or Etsy.

eBay has had other programs in the past that allowed sellers to pay to run ads for their eBay listings. eBay Keywords ran from 2003 – 2006, and eBay closed its successor, AdCommerce, in 2010. eBay had also allowed sellers to pay extra for a “Featured First” option, which was also discontinued in 2010.

The new program may call into question the efficacy of eBay’s Cassini search engine that was supposed to be able to deliver the most relevant listings to shoppers. Upon closing AdCommerce ad program in 2010, eBay said, “Our goal is to keep the focus in eBay search results on surfacing the items most relevant to a buyer’s search from sellers delivering the best value and service.”

Participation in eBay Promoted Listings is by invitation only and appears to be limited to eBay Stores. It kicks off October 1st and runs through December 31, 2014. There is no cost to participate in the beta – each invited seller will be allocated a free budget.

What do you think of this new program? Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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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/.