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Tue Mar 17 2009 12:13:30

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay said it would be posting an announcement at 9 am Pacific time today letting sellers know it was removing a restriction on Best Match search exposure. eBay currently limits the number of listings from a single seller to ten per page in Best Match search results (unless the only available listings that remained were from the same seller). Later this week, it will remove that limitation. (This is similar to, but is not, the de-dupe policy.)

I expect sellers' initial reaction to be concern that some sellers will be able to dominate search results. First, here is a timeline to give the announcement some context, then on to what eBay had to say.

Old eBay: eBay had limited sellers to 15 identical listings at any one time

June 2008: eBay removed this restriction but limited the display of duplicate listings from the same seller in search results to one listing (known as the de-dupe policy). In other words, sellers could have an unlimited number of identical listings at any one time, but only one of the listings would show in search results.

In addition, eBay began limiting the number of listings from a single seller to ten per page in Best Match search results (unless the only available listings that remained were from the same seller). Internally eBay calls this Even Selection by Seller.

November 2008: eBay rolled back its Identical Listings (de-dupe) policy and began showing all identical listings from the same seller for Fixed Price items.

March 2009: eBay is now taking away the restriction that limits the number of listings from a single seller to ten per page.

Senior Director of Finding Jeff King told AuctionBytes that eBay has been watching the seller dynamic. The popularity (Recent Sales) algorithm in Best Match gives more weight to multi-item listings that have experienced some sales, thus giving those items greater exposure in search results. By rewarding sellers for using multiple-quantity listings, eBay has had less of a need to put in hard-and-fast rules like the de-duping policy, according to King.

"Now that a track record of recent sales is a key factor in the sort order for Fixed Price, most sellers are combining identical items into single, multi-quantity, 30-day listings," King said. "We've reached a threshold now where we think we can also turn off Even Selection by Seller. We've been doing a whole bunch of analysis, and we believe it's just not necessary. In Best Match, we will be basically turning off by the end of the week or so the ability, or the limitation we currently have, that only ten items from a seller will show up on a per-page basis."

"You have to earn your way on to the page. There is no time component in Fixed Price at all, so your only chance of exposure is to actually have a very high Recent Sales score."
 
He said if you have a single quantity and/or unique item, the best way to get exposure is through the auction format. This is especially true if you're selling in a market where there's lots of that same item that are being sold by sellers that are turning the inventory. In clothing and collectibles, it's not as big a problem. "So like everything on eBay, it depends on the category."

What about sellers who will be concerned that some sellers would be able to dominate search results pages?

Jeff said this is essentially how the old days of eBay worked. eBay had been worried that it would overwhelm the market with fixed-price listings when it droped fixed-price listing fees. That was the initial reason for the de-dupe and Even Selection policies.

"The auction marketplace is essentially driven by the auction insertion fee. It's reasonably expensive compared to Fixed-Price. The combination of the pricing incentives and the increased exposure you get are basically preventing this dangerous dynamic from happening in fixed price marketplace. Frankly it's something that could happen in auctions, but people tend not to because it's a reasonably expensive strategy. It's not effective, and it's not a sustainable strategy long term."

"We think we have the right pricing and exposure incentive in place to prevent any kind of really negative impact from sellers gaming it."
 




Comments (27) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Dman

Tue Mar 17 12:23:48 2009

Wow! Just Wow! Could they spell it out any clearer to the smaller sellers. Please pay us money and expect nothing in return, we won't disappoint you.

"You have to earn your way on to the page. There is no time component in Fixed Price at all, so your only chance of exposure is to actually have a very high Recent Sales score."

He said if you have a single quantity and/or unique item, the best way to get exposure is through the auction format. This is especially true if you're selling in a market where there's lots of that same item that are being sold by sellers that are turning the inventory. In clothing and collectibles, it's not as big a problem. "So like everything on eBay, it depends on the category."

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Jeff Stannard

Tue Mar 17 12:39:35 2009

Full steam ahead for bestmatch.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: TekGems

Tue Mar 17 12:45:23 2009

Ina -- two things:

1) Keyword research in title & description will become even more important. Small sellers won't be able to compete on volume, so SEO will be a key component in competition. I'm not advocating keyword spamming (although eBay has no clue in terms of what is and is not during enforcement), but you have to outsmart your competition. Volume sellers aren't going to bother editing titles and description. They'll just take what the distributor gives them and compete on price only.

2) The Recent Sales Best Match algorithm only means a volume seller only has two sell 1 more than you. Then they can dominate multiple listings in a search. This change will definitely favor the Buy.com on eBay versus the small sellers.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Scriptorical

Tue Mar 17 12:46:08 2009

If I understand this correctly they are saying sellers who do not have a high recent sale grouping or are new sellers will have to list in the auction format for better exposure.

Now if according to your previous article Ina, if states decide to pass legislation addressing Auctioneer Licensing requirements for the internet then you can pretty much say good-by to the small sellers.

I would suggest that small sellers start looking into building your own website because it appears the next year is going to be a tough one for small sellers. IMHO of course. Regards, www.scriptorical.com

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Patricia

Tue Mar 17 13:19:27 2009

Expect more and more of Ebay's arrogant and stupid policies to be rescinded as they get more desperate for revenue.  Can't wait for this quarter to be reported next month....it should be another big decline!  I look forward to the day they have to grovel on bended knee to the very sellers they've been kicking around for over a year now.  Maybe it won't happen but I think there's a good chance it will.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: KatyDidsCards

Tue Mar 17 14:56:02 2009

Whiplash, whiplash! Could they please just make up their minds, pick a reasonably good policy, and stick with it for a while? First it's on, then it's off, then it's on again...  ((sigh))

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: THEY DON"T WANT YOU

Tue Mar 17 15:42:55 2009

Kinda plain isnt it. They do not want sellers, small or meduim size, only large big box BUY.com walmart types and chinese junk.
So, this is why we have a short fuse with bad buyers ie.:

 Hi .....There is a great selectionof the goods in ur Ebay page..! I'd liketo to buy Harpers Bazaar March 2009 issue...is it new? no scratches, no torns? i'd like to ask...can u find for me W magazine March 2009 issue with Madonna on the cover? Also i need V Man 14...it will be great to get them all together...just let me know... Perviz Feb-20-09
A:   Hi, You're asking too many questions. We are not the sellers for you. We do NOT combine shipping & handling because of the outrageous high eBay and Paypal fees. We have the W Magazine Madonna you asked about and will list soon. As far as no torn pages etc. These items are left over stock and generally unread copies. They may or may not have postal abuse handling. You could try iOffer.com or Bonanzle.com.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Nonsense

Tue Mar 17 17:33:47 2009

So they tinkered with things until it was falling apart and now they are going to tinker some more to see what happens because they don't and never had a clue between them about WTH they're doing.

Leave it alone already!

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: JDsDemon

Tue Mar 17 18:45:18 2009

The unwind begins.  Ebay is slowly unravelling the evil changes that Donahoe thought up, one at a time and will discover that the best ebay was the way it had evolved, with no tampering necessary.  

No 2009 guidance from Donahoe?  Could be that Donahoe will step down before the year is over.  Hey board of directors, put ebay back the way it was and your stock price will go up.

As for the seller exposure restriction limits, they are probably being sued again for selling what they don't deliver.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Dave

Tue Mar 17 19:15:09 2009

EBAY had a core compentency - online auctions - and had a good world-wide monoploy on this money-spinner. A dream combination. Donahue and co. have blown this out of the water - just who are they working for? And they've failed in their rather stupid scheme to make a sows ear out of a silk purse. Now they've got another scheme. Funny really, all they had to do was not do anything much. I see them taking over the flight deck of a cruising 747 as untrained pilots - "we're not going fast enough, what happens when I push this down hard?". I think the ground proximity warning is beeping over at Ebay. Time for a golden parachute or two.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Mar 17 21:24:23 2009

Respectfully disagreeing with other posters who think ebay is unraveling changes made last year because they've seen the error of the ways.

The purpose of removing the restriction is to give the big box sellers of commodity items still greater exposure. Remember, BUY recently told ebay they're not terribly pleased with their sales results so The Ho  and The No are making this change to accommodate the buy.coms of the ebay world and no one else.

In spite of the fact that ebay SAYS it prefers Fixed Price listings, notice ebay continues its unrelenting assault AGAINST the FP formay by further disadvantaging it in search.

Ebay continues to prove Ming's Law #1:

EBAY LIES. EBAY ALWAYS HAS LIED AND ALWAYS WILL LIE. EBAY CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LYING.

Therefore, ebay continues to be one of the most duplicitous, deceitful, and undependnable trading partner in the world.

NO ONE SHOULD TRUST EBAY EVER AGAIN ABOUT ANYTHING -- not Buy, not Best Buy, not Target, no shoplet -- absolutely no one should trust these overpaid, schizophrenic executives whose whims change every time they suffer a chemical imbalance.

Death to ebay corp. in 2009.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Mar 17 22:19:22 2009

I meant to include in my previous post that ebay is also trying to coerce small and medium sellers back into the auction format in order to generate more fee revenue while hiding their listings among multiple Big Box listings and Fixed Price listings.

What sane Big Box or investor would use ebay at a platform of generating sales and value when this all things to all people corporation can't decide from one day to the next wgho or what they are.

The only constants that remain after each announcement is that ebay LIES, isn't a dependable business partner, cannot be trusted while you're looking at them, and will do ANYTHING BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY to their customers in order to fulfill their objectives.

Ebay is the world's most
despicable organization right behind the Russian Mafia and the Latino drug cartels.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Nonsense

Tue Mar 17 22:35:08 2009

"Senior Director of Finding Jeff King told AuctionBytes that eBay has been watching the seller dynamic. The popularity (Recent Sales) algorithm in Best Match gives more weight to multi-item listings that have experienced some sales, thus giving those items greater exposure in search results. By rewarding sellers for using multiple-quantity listings,"

Translation= If you don't have dozen of the item, you're screwed.  Those of you who sell antiques, collectibles or one of kind items are going to so buried in search now that you'll just be giving ebay fees for essentially NO VISIBILITY of YOUR items.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Auctions are useless

Tue Mar 17 23:44:06 2009

To the stupid morons running ebay: I used to love auctions, now I'm sick of chasing the NPBs and my fees. Auctions have become the WORST way to sell on Ebay, due to the fact that this stinking company can't even effectively do any kind of check on any bidder.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Nonsense

Wed Mar 18 01:48:05 2009

Whole article from Fortune Mag.
She's quite the dreamer.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/03/13/news/economy/sellers_w
hitman.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009031606

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: eBuyer Feedback

Wed Mar 18 03:12:00 2009

Why does ebay.co.uk still restrict the number of listings visible and even make it against the rules to list more than one fixed price listing of the same item?  Are the people in Europe that much different than people in North America?

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Wed Mar 18 13:26:24 2009

where is the public apology? and where is my 100% feedback that disappeared as punishment for not selling for a year?

They have something dirty up their sleeves, or they would contribute to forums publicly.


CEO's are liars and bullsht artists.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: seeeyoulater

Thu Mar 19 00:29:24 2009

If anyone still owns a share or two of ebay stock, sell NOW while you can still get a few cups of coffee for it!

'Ancient' listings searches already show pages & pages of still-cooling pottery sculptures & bowls & 'aged' jade consecutive 'multiple listings'.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: Kristoffer

Thu Mar 19 00:47:34 2009

This change is because ebay is losing money. They come up with a change saying it is best to keep the site from being flooded with one seller listing an item multiple times. Funny how they still told sellers to list the same item several times even though it wouldn't show up in search. They thought sellers would be stupid enough to actually do this, but we weren't. Instead sellers do what they should. They listed one item one time or listed multiple items within the one listing, meaning less money for ebay.  We know ebay is ALL about and ONLY about how much money they can stuff in THEIR pockets. This change meant less money to stuff.... so they go back to the way it used to be.

eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results   eBay Removes Seller-Exposure Restriction on Search Results

by: mimi

Thu Mar 19 01:29:59 2009

Ha - *Senior Director of Finding* - sounds like a character from a Harry Potter book!

I actually remember when eBay was fun. Imagine that!

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