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Wed Nov 18 2009 21:41:50

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

By: Ina Steiner

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Shopping for children's magazines on eBay? You might find ads for Playboy magazines in the listings you peruse. Selling tetherballs? You might find ads for bondage rope at the bottom of your listing.

eBay's new cross-merchandising efforts are missing the mark, and some users are complaining about adult-themed items being inserted into ads inappropriately.

An eBay seller sent AuctionBytes an example of eBay showing Playboy magazines to shoppers of Christian children's magazines and wrote, "Regardless of rather your looking for a Christian magazine, a CHILDREN'S magazine, A sewing magazine... whatever it is... as long as it's listed in the magazine back issues there is a PLAYBOY collection in your listing!"

A discussion thread on eBay uncovered other inappropriate matches.

"Most Watched" Algorithm
In announcing the new cross-merchandising feature, eBay said "Items are chosen based on popularity - the items in the same category most watched by buyers."

I had asked Michelle Waldorf who runs WatchedItem.com if sellers could game the "most watched" feature. She said that gaming the watcher count would not be a successful strategy for high volume, fixed price items. She also said, "I would be surprised if eBay showed items sorted by most watched. Watcher count is a good indicator of general interest, but not a true measurement of the desire to purchase the item." She believes eBay is probably showing the items with the best impressions/sales or impressions/bids ratio.

Whatever the algorithm, eBay obviously has some kinks to work out of its new feature before it gets slapped with an NC-17 rating.





Comments (45) | Permalink

Readers Comments

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: fruity

Wed Nov 18 22:07:37 2009

I think its time Ebay answered to someone so they never ever try this crap again. For years they have been trying to get into our listings to lay their listings but this issue, they'll just "fix it" and then slap in something else. What happens when a counterfeitor shows up on our listings, you want us to shoulder that problem? Or how about something so disgustingly vile.. because u know that happens. I say I am going to call the feds on you ebay, through the Senate special investigations committee and just have a little talk find out who is liable here. If WE are liable, then you get that listing off all our listings.

This is the Senate committee on investigations. They're the same ones who are handling that hearing the other day about the consumers being exploited by websites. If you got something to say about maybe ebay is taking advantage of small businesses or otherwise pawning off THEIR liability on you then this is the number you call. Demand a hearing! Lets just end this already, so we dont have to keep spinning our wheels.


Washington DC 202-224-1300 (public number)

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: On Lies and Secrets

Wed Nov 18 22:52:24 2009

This is so ebay.  You couldn't make this stuff up!

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Wendy

Wed Nov 18 23:32:41 2009

I could just vomit. Ebay, honestly, you are putting pornography and fetish ads on my childrens' listings??? Time for a vacation. Of all the things I've seen, now my reputation is being destroyed and I can't search with my kids for ebay items like Miley Cyrus posters!

Ebay fix this!

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: LOLz

Wed Nov 18 23:33:36 2009

Epic lolZ!
Keep em coming slezebay!
Whoooohaaaaw!

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Mister Tubbles

Wed Nov 18 23:33:59 2009

ebay runs rampant through the steets of all that is decent like a rabid juggenaut that needs to be put down

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: RicRoe

Wed Nov 18 23:42:01 2009

Another shining example of the effort JD & his gang that can't shoot straight disruptively innovating for the holidays.

Adult magazines advertised on Christian and Children's magazine listings...The Board of Directors must be proud of their executive team.

Once upon a time I through a change in leadership might possible be able to turn this company around.

Now it appears that the eBay Board has waited too long to make a change.

Congratulations to JD and his team, this holiday season is going to set a new highs in lows.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Patricia

Thu Nov 19 00:48:26 2009

Ah I see Ebay's management team of mental giants has been hard at work once again :-)

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: etown99

Thu Nov 19 01:40:40 2009

Hi Ina. I was the first to post on Seller Central about these inappropriate ads appearing on seller's description pages. I work the retail counter at the U.S. Postal Service. One of my customers sells religious materials, books, and related materials. She had told me that she had opted out of Ebay showing competitors listings on her description pages becuase she was not the lowest price for like products on Ebay.

I told her just because she had opted out, Ebay was still going to show ''most watched'' ads on the bottom of her description page.

Because we were slow, I brought her back to my computer, (thinking Ebay would display different bibles and other related religious paraphanalia) to show her that ads would still appear at the bottom of her listings.

Well, it was quite a shock. The ads appearing on her description page were:
Michael Jackson's book
Rolling Stone Magazines
And, the complete 1964 Playboy magazine 12 magazine lot.

These totally unrelated, and totally inappropriate ads are being shown to buyers that were searching for bibles, or other religious materials.

I am far from being a straight laced Christian. I do however, respect their rights to their beliefs. Ebay is showing total disrespect to their sellers - and buyers - by displaying ads that are offensive to both parties.

I believe Ebay shouldn't be showing competitor's listings, or ''most watched'' listings on any seller's description pages. If they feel the need to once again abuse their sellers by displaying these ads, they should should do so by sub category, so inappropriate content will not be displayed where it has no business being shown.

Let;s not even mention the 60 day notice for major changes that management promised their sellers. They broke that promise with the removal of the store box in core on Novemeber 9, and then they turn around and break it again with competitor's listings appearing on our description pages.

The only consistent constant on Ebay is that Ebay will consistently lie to the very customers that maintain their marketplace.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Et tu, Brute!

Thu Nov 19 01:55:09 2009

Smut everywhere!  Wow!  Why is nobody surprised?!  Oh, this should make prime time!  

Please!  Please!

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Richard (Paleoplastic)

Thu Nov 19 02:30:11 2009

They do answer to someone...us the sellers.  That's why we moved the largest vintage toy story on eBay two years ago to eCrater.  

Escape the ReichBay and join the fun (and enjoy selling once again)!

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: LOL

Thu Nov 19 02:30:29 2009

Okay everybody. Twitter all the new sites and tell them ebay is stuffing smut ads in on the listing of christian and childrens items. LOL

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Marvin

Thu Nov 19 03:50:55 2009

This is nothing new. Porno listings and bad words have always shown up in searches where they had no business showing up. For years people have been saying ebay is not safe for your kids. Under best match and donahoe it seems to have gotten worse.

The way ebay is doing it now just makes an old problem more noticeable, that’s all.

This is not a glitch, it’s not a kink in the system. Ebay could care less what position they put you in or expose you to as long as they make a buck.

Ebay/paypal knows the magic formula - It makes no difference if it is illegal, immoral or unethical, just do it. If you get caught blame it on a computer glitch or spin it off as an unfortunate unforeseen situation and claim you are working hard to resolve the problem. You are off the hook. All is forgiven. - Keep doing it but in a different way until you get caught again.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: LOL

Thu Nov 19 04:22:21 2009

It's amazing how a one letter typo can change the whole meaning of a statement.
It's supposed to read twitter all the News sites, not new sites.  lol

You're right Marvin, they do blame things on glitches. Just like reducing the completed search to 2 weeks. That was a glitch until it became obvious they intended to do it and sell access to the info to a third party for a price.  Now people have to pay to see more than 2 weeks of completed listings.

Everything they do now is underhanded and motivated by sheer greed.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Patrick

Thu Nov 19 05:01:08 2009

Wow...I kinda hope this one has legs and makes national news! If nothing else it would be a much deserved hit on their image. You know, it's a shining example of their haphazard method of instituting change. What goes around comes around.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Marvin

Thu Nov 19 05:06:17 2009

Fuity - Good advice but Washington public phone numbers tend to be rather generic and can leave you with the feeling they are manned by ex-ebay employees.

Senator Carl Levin from Michigan is the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations:
http://levin.senate.gov/senate/investigations/index
.html

which
is part of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Subc
ommittees.Investigations


For free, non-legal advice and referrals on a number of consumer issues visit the consumer action site and go from there.
Consumer Action telephone: 415-777-9635
For Consumer Action online complaint form
http://www.consumer-action.org/about/list/C281/

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: Too Funny

Thu Nov 19 06:57:40 2009

Only sleezebay can get away with this corrupt illegal activity. Harmless fun for us, but not if you have little kids. hey, we sell some of the newer porn but keep it in "everything else" catogory for adults only.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: g

Thu Nov 19 07:28:07 2009

Another example of eBay as ''just a venue''.  The more eBay becomes involved with OUR businesses, the worse OUR businesses seem to fair.

eBay really seems destined to become a classic textbook case of how a rising star company can self-destruct.

If it weren't for the thousands of small and medium businesses (and their owners and employees -- real people, not just corporate statistics) that have been hurt by eBay's management decisions in the last 5 years, it would be laughable.  But eBay's choices have caused real harm to hard working people and there's no humor in that.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Thu Nov 19 07:40:56 2009

It's ironic that Jonnie Donuthole and Uncle Grief flew into Chicago a few weeks ago and one of the guests at the eBay Dinner Party was a Fan Club member specializing in Adult video sales.

Perhaps some of the more dramatic readers can hold their cookies down long enough to get JD and Uncle Grief to sup with them at Chuck E. Cheese and see how eBay needs to do the right thing for the children.

eBay is the Mall Owner who barges into your store, tells you what payments you can accept and raises the rent while taking your name off the mall directory. Then he turns to your customers, tells them 3 places where they could get your item cheaper and offer them magic links to transport them there instantly. When that doesn't work, he tries to distract them with porno.

If you saw this as a show on TV, you'd call it far-fetched.

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: STRYKER

Thu Nov 19 07:53:55 2009


In addition to the content issue, this also clearly lays false the claim that this is a ''cross Promotion'' a cross promotion means just that ,seller A promotes  seller B's  product  in return for seller B promoting A's product .

 That is Not what is happening here, clearly ebay is selecting one group of favored sellers (A), using ''mystery Metrics'' and putting them into other sellers (B) live listing.  Now (A) has a massive new audience, while (B) gets ?????  .

   Does ebay tell you how many if any other listings YOUR listings appear on? of course not , If one group is dominating , everyone else just gets nothing .

 This IS STEERING , REPEAT STEERING  not cross promotion.

 The arguement that ''everyone benifits'' is nonsense I believe that most sellers will see their postings overun with additional clutter , steering their potential buyers to the chosen ones, and get nothing in return .

Since we cannot see the results, and are not told the metrics, we are operating in the dark , Hey ebay , how about actually Notifying sellers where they are appearing ?

  The seller Dashboard already has more calculations, star, bars and ratings  then a jet plane, how about adding just one more :
Your promotions appear on XXX listings
Your Listings contain Promotions from:XXX other vendotrs

I'll be waiting

More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising   More Than A Few Kinks in eBay's Cross-Merchandising

by: eBuyer Feedback

Thu Nov 19 08:19:21 2009

This is exactly what happens you make a change on one day's notice.  If eBay had simply kept their promise to making 2 changes per year and waited until SR1 2010 this wouldn't have happened.

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