eBay acquired comparison-shopping engine Shopping.com in 2005 for over $620 million and built an ad platform around it called eBay Commerce Network (ECN). eBay is now shutting down the ad network and is parking Shopping.com while it decides what to do with it.
This does not impact eBay sellers who pay to promote their listings through eBay Promoted Listing Ads.
However, they may find themselves competing with more advertisers, as eBay is encouraging ECN merchants to leverage Promoted Listings “and other core advertising solutions to boost visibility on eBay.”
eBay explained: “For the health of the core marketplace, eBay is making a concerted effort to shift its reliance from third-party advertising to first-party advertising.”
eBay described eBay Commerce Network (ECN) as a “leading advertising platform offering merchants direct response advertising solutions across a network of leading publishers.” In a 2013 article, we reported that in addition to offering merchants placement on Shopping.com and Bing Shopping, ECN offered ad placement on eBay, Cnet and The Find.
We noted that 4,000 merchants were advertising through eBay Commerce Network in 2013; Tech Crunch reported today that number had dwindled to fewer than 1,000, a sign that eBay was unable to keep up with rival ad services from Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
Another contributing factor: Merkle Associate Director of Research Andy Taylor had told EcommerceBytes in 2017 that eBay’s decision to eliminate product ads from showing directly on ebay.com resulted in the loss of eBay Commerce Network’s best performing traffic, producing lower value for advertisers and necessitating lower cost per click.
And with activist investors pressuring eBay to review its portfolio, “eBay Breakup 2.0” is surely another factor in its decision to shut down the ad network.
In 2015, Carl Icahn caused the initial eBay breakup under the leadership of then-CEO John Donahoe, with eBay spinning off PayPal and selling off eBay Enterprise. Now, under the leadership of current eBay CEO Devin Wenig, activist investors have gained some seats on eBay’s Board and are pressuring eBay to review its whittled down portfolio (Marketplaces, Classifieds, and StubHub) for possible sale.
eBay executive Bridget Davies told TechCrunch on Tuesday that as part of the closure of eBay Commerce Network, listings that had been run on Shopping.com would no longer appear. “We’re going to retain the domain, and we’re currently deciding what we will do with the asset,” she said.
It’s remarkable that an ecommerce site would be willing to let a domain name like Shopping.com lie dormant and, if eBay sells it – potentially fall into the hands of a competitor.
A cynic might wonder if eBay’s move to force all fixed-price listings to Good Til Cancelled (the GTC mandate) is to make the eBay marketplace more attractive to advertisers; TechCrunch said eBay made $600 million in ad revenues in 2018 and has a goal of growing that to $1 billion this year.
You can find the announcement and FAQs on this page of eBayAdvertising.com.