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Etsy to Begin Billing Sellers for Its Content Marketing Costs

Etsy to Begin Billing Sellers for Content Marketing Costs

Etsy began charging sellers for paid-search campaigns last year through a new Offsite Ads program, and now it will charge sellers for content marketing expenses using the same program.

It’s a bold move (some might say brazen). If an affiliate publisher drives traffic that results in a sale on the marketplace, Etsy will charge that seller a fee to help cover its costs.

The marketplace announced Tuesday it was expanding the Offisite Ads program to include its Publishing Partners:

“Offsite Ads can bring shoppers to your listings through ads on high-traffic sites like Google, Instagram, and Pinterest. And now, it could also get your items featured on publishing sites like Buzzfeed, Martha Stewart, and Real Simple.”

Other publishers participating in Etsy’s content marketing program include MyWedding, Better Homes and Gardens, Lyst, and Shape.

Etsy also breathlessly stated, “In addition to these big-name publishers, we’ll also share your Etsy listings with social media influencers and bloggers.”

As we’ve noted in our coverage of Etsy Offsite Ads, sellers who pay to list on Etsy expect the marketplace to invest in marketing and advertising to attract shoppers. If it does a good job in bringing in buyers, Etsy is rewarded by receiving commission fees from sellers.

With Offsite Ads, in addition to paying a commission fee on all sales, sellers pay an additional “advertising fee” of between 12% – 15% for sales resulting from Offsite Ads. That makes the program tricky for sellers when setting prices for their products – whether to build in enough profit margin for a regular 5% commission fee, or boost prices to account for the unpredictable 17% commission fee (12% Offsite Ad fee plus the standard 5% fee).

All sellers are automatically enrolled in Offsite Ads – only those who make less than $10,000 on Etsy in a 12-month period can opt out.

As for which publications their listing ads may appear, “What if there’s a site I don’t want to be featured on,” Etsy anticipated sellers asking in FAQs for the program. It provided the following response:

“We choose our publishing partners carefully and vet them using strict brand guidelines. That’s why we’re starting with a small, curated list of approved publishers. When you’re part of our Offsite Ads program, your listings could be shown on any of these sites. You can find a list of our current publishers in Etsy’s Help Center. If you have feedback on our publishing partners, send us your thoughts here.”

Etsy also announced on Tuesday, “In addition to adding publishers to Offsite Ads, we’re also expanding from Google Shopping to the full Google Display Network. That means your ads can appear on thousands of sites that partner with Google, helping you reach more potential customers, even when they’re not actively searching for something to buy.” Last year, Google Shopping went from pay-to-play to a mostly free platform.

Sellers can learn more and find FAQs on this page of the Etsy Seller Handbook.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

7 thoughts on “Etsy to Begin Billing Sellers for Its Content Marketing Costs”

  1. At this point I have to just laugh at sellers that continue to embrace that fraudulent sweat shop.

  2. The disparity is astonishing. You can sell something for $1000K and not pay over $100 in ad fees.

    I had a sale for around $450.00 and with other fees; listing, transaction, processing, their State taxes and shipping, it was around $90.00

    Pretty damn outrageous and I sadly am forced to cancel transactions because its not just the lose of the $90.00 its the $60.00 international shipping/insurance/tracking on top of that.

    That is just unacceptable to be out of pocket $150.00 on a $450.00 sale. Etsy does NOT know how much we paid for things and if any one item we sell can handle losing ‘their scam’ and related costs

  3. I would like to know how Etsy is allowed legally to do all these changes and force sellers into these fees

  4. So in other words, Etsy is claiming that sellers will have possible “exposure” to countless media sources and can justify charging sellers commissions on every sale because they are not obligated to verify how and where these affiliates resulted in a sale. They can literally claim that every sale was the result of this “marketing” requirement and never have to offer proof. Got it.

  5. Oh and as a side note — even if you sell in CAD dollars, all fees are collected in US dollars which means that if you’re in Canada – add an extra 30% on to these thieving fees!

  6. I don’t know where my posts go!

    Important to note that if you sell in Canadian dollars, your fees are in in US which means a range of 27 – 30% added on. Its a brilliant thieving scam and as some said, I don’t know how these money grabs are all legal. How can you not be able to opt out for starters!!

  7. I’ve noticed a significant decline in Etsy traffic/sales over the last few weeks while there has been a significant increase in traffic and sales to my own website. Did a little Google shopping testing and found that within my particular niche of craft supplies, the search results that used to be absolutely dominated by Etsy listings (not just the sponsored/ad ones) now contain a much more diverse selection of vendors and shopfronts, to include several from my own website for items that are also listed on Etsy.

    Can’t help but wonder if this (much welcome to me!) shift in Google search algorithms is a part of why they are adding more places to advertise.

    The offsite ads program and the threat of being forced into it permanently (happened last August) was the catalyst for launching my own website. Being supplies and essentially consumables, my products lend themselves to purchases of multiples and repeat customers. At a fairly low price point, Etsy takes a significant percentage of fees, especially from sales of a single item, which are much more common on Etsy than my own website…maybe at least partially because I don’t have ads directing customers to other vendors selling similar/the same items on every product page. Imagine that.

    International sellers and friends…I’m sorry that you all get even more of these fees. I don’t know why the OA program isn’t optional for everyone if it is so great. Shouldn’t a service or product be sold based on it’s merit and not foisted on customers who do not wish to have it? Sellers would be lining up for it, if it were that good for sellers.

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