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eBay Plans Pivot for Holiday Marketing

There’s nothing like a good TV commercial to drive brand awareness, and under Meg Whitman’s leadership, eBay had a number of memorable campaigns. Those sellers who were hoping that Devin Wenig, the successor to Whitman’s replacement John Donahoe, would go back to those days may be disappointed to hear what he told Wall Street analysts last week.

“Last holiday, we did a bit of TV, not in every DMA but we did some TV in the U.S. and some in Europe. We’re not going to do a significant amount of TV this holiday but we won’t spend less.”

That’s despite the fact that eBay has been unable to overcome the Google SEO problems that have plagued the site – Chief Financial Officer Scott Schenkel told analysts, “The SEO headwinds continue to impact our ability to acquire new buyers.”

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Wenig explained that historically, eBay has been very focused on digital channels – “we tend to market heavily when we make sales and that’s why we’ve heavily skewed towards things like paid search and other digital channels.” Now, however,he wants to pivot some of its marketing to what he called brand spend. That refers to marketing that’s “more about eBay than about buying any particular item.”

Particularly in social channels, eBay is beginning to move from selling individual items to selling eBay as a brand, he said. “And I think that you’ll see more of that, not only through the holiday but through 2016.”

“I think it’s very important for us to say to the world who we are. Some of that is closing some of the misconceptions about our business. I think the brand is ubiquitous but not everyone knows what we do. But some of that is really the sort of emotional connection of the brand which is not a commodity, it’s not a utility and it’s about consumers finding unique items and incredible deals. And that’s really where we think north is for our brand.”

“We’re going to be very active in digital channels and we’re operationally-ready for this holiday, he continued, “and we will certainly be active marketing, both through promotions and marketing channels, for the holiday.”

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to

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