eBay is seeking to increase ad revenue by targeting casual sellers with a “lite” version of its Promoted Listings program, which lets sellers pay for ads on top of their other fees in order to get greater exposure for items they sell on eBay.
The dumbed down version of eBay’s seller ad program, called Promoted Listings Lite, is available exclusively for items listed using the quick listing tool designed for “consumer sellers.” The Lite program has a different fee structure and comes without any tools to measure the effectiveness of the ads. According to a FAQ:
How do I know if people are clicking on my listing that is promoted?
At this time, you will only be informed of the items that are sold through the Promoted Listings Lite service through the resulting ad fee on your monthly invoice. We are working hard to create a simple way to track your metrics for future versions!
In contrast, the regular Promoted Listings program, which is available to eBay Stores subscribers and Top Rated Sellers, provides performance reports that include metrics on Clicks, Sold, Ad fees, and Sales – though it is lacking a critical metric: impressions. The regular program also allows sellers to view metrics for custom time periods, with the default period being “the last 31 days”).
Two eBay engineers explained in a post this week how they went about creating Promoted Listings Lite as an example of a new way of developing “products” (tech-speak for features or tools) on eBay.
Claire Xiao, Product Manager for Ads, and Parin Jogani, Software Engineer for Consumer Selling, wrote: “We had a hypothesis that the full Promoted Listings offering had too many options and was too robust for the average consumer seller.”
They said eBay technology teams currently focus on building what’s called a minimum viable product (MVP) to test ideas for new products and features. “MVPs are essentially prototypes – or the most basic versions of a product that allows us to collect consumer learnings before launching at scale. During this stage, main focus is on functionality, knowing the experience can be optimized in the future as long as the MVP helps us validate consumer demand.”
Xiao and Jogani moved to a “MAP” approach – “minimum awesome product.” They explained, “We don’t just want to build a product that is viable at minimum – we want to build a product that is awesome. When it comes to building products in the MVP model, we seldom talk about creating minimum awesome experiences, but this is precisely what we need to do in order to truly create the best experiences for our customers.”
“The original Promoted Listings experience for our small business users has full functionality, including manual bidding and campaign creation for advertising, which suits these users’ preferences for more control. Through early user research, however, we found consumer sellers sit on the other extreme of the spectrum: they need a simple, clear and hassle-free experience.
“To satisfy these needs, we simplified the experience via a one-click campaign creation. To deliver this “advertising easy button,” we recommend a bid percentage and removed the concept of a campaign setting for this segment. In this “lite” version of Promoted Listings, users only need one click to complete the journey. The simplicity of the solution drove wide adoption.”
The engineers said during the planning stage, they debated on which reporting features to include in Promoted Listings Lite:
“It was really tempting to slide to the extreme – perfectionism and trying to solve all problems in the pilot. However, in a test-and-learn environment, perfect is the enemy of good. We reminded ourselves that our goal for building the MAP was to validate whether consumer sellers wanted to use a product like this. This enabled us to quickly re-focus our energy on solving only for the critical questions we were seeking answers to.”
The cost of advertising using eBay’s regular Promoted Listings Ad program varies – sellers choose an ad rate as a percentage of the selling price (excluding shipping).
But with the Lite version, eBay sets the ad fee, as it explains in the following FAQ:
How is the fee calculated?
We first refer to the trending price for similar items at the time of listing. We then select a percentage based on that trending price as the ad rate to give your item the best chance of being featured in the premium placements exclusively reserved for this service. The fee you pay is that percentage, or ad rate, multiplied by the final sale price of your item, excluding shipping and taxes.
Note that eBay didn’t indicate whether it displays the advertising fees to sellers ahead of time for Lite users.
eBay used to have a cap on regular Promoted Listing Ads, but now it allows sellers to choose to pay 100% of the selling price – any seller who moves the lever to 100% would be in effect paying eBay to sell their items, since they must also pay a commission (Final Value Fee) and possibly insertion fees.
One reader told us he was concerned some sellers would be confused by the fact eBay now allows them to pay 100% of the selling price for ads: “I wonder what (eBay) would do if someone accidentally moved the slider up to 100% thinking it was 100% of the 20% max they used to accept?”
Visit the EcommerceBytes Blog to read more about eBay Promoted Listing Ads and to share your own experiences using the program.