|Fri Aug 19 2011 11:30:01|
Etsy to Open Site to Some Form of Advertising
By: Ina Steiner
Etsy sellers were abuzz over the possibility that the online marketplace will launch a seller ad program. Speculation began when Etsy released a landing page and video with the message: "In the coming weeks, we're launching an easy and affordable new way for you to promote your listings on Etsy search pages. Be the first to know."
In response to our inquiry, Etsy spokesperson Adam Brown said, "All I can say for now is, in the coming weeks, we're launching an easy and affordable new way for sellers to promote their listings on Etsy search pages. So, yes, I can confirm that we will be launching a new promotional tool, but, sorry, I can't provide any details beyond that."
Prior to Etsy changing the default search results to show in order of relevancy, the results were displayed by recency. This encouraged Etsy sellers (who could afford to) to relist items daily, for which they paid a relisting fee - and in return, they got more exposure and generally increased sales.
It would appear Etsy is looking to make up for reduced listing fee revenue through ad revenue, while at the same time satisfying those sellers who were willing to pay for better exposure for their listings.
An Etsy administrator wrote on a discussion board thread that the new promotional tool would be available only to Etsy shops - "this is not about outside companies advertising here," she wrote, and explained:
"Many sellers choose to promote by relisting items. This is a promotional tactic that was discovered by Etsy sellers long ago. Many sellers don't like this though- it feels kind of like rolling the dice because you don't know the effectiveness of it, and as Etsy has gotten bigger, there's no guarantee of where your item will appear. (The new promotional tool) is designed to address these issues."
Etsy is one of the few major online marketplaces that does not accept advertising on its site. But it appears Etsy is mindful of its arts and crafts image, so expect it to roll out any ads or fee-based promotional features carefully. "This will look classy and in keeping with the Etsy look," the forum administrator told users.
The teaser message about Etsy.com/Surprise was written by Frank Harris, who worked on user interface at the Washington Post, and was most recently Senior User Experience Designer at Google. His title is now Product Manager, Search at Etsy. According to his personal website, "Previously, I was a Sr. UX Designer at Google for nearly 5 years, focusing on payments and commerce with previous stints in News, Finance, Blog Search, Book Search and Transit."
What's surprising here is the way in which Etsy released the news, perhaps hoping for a viral marketing boost. Some sellers said they received the email teaser, others did not, and no one is sure exactly what the program will entail. As a result, many sellers expressed concern over how this could affect them. (After all, many rely on Etsy to make part of their living.)
Said one user, "I always go back to them saying there would be no major changes going into the holiday season this year. We all knew there would be, there always is, and this is all pretty major!" Another wrote, "Oh great...so those of us who are poor are once again going to buried. Dunno if I can afford ad space..."
Update 8/19/11: Etsy has since posted on its blog a message from CEO Chad Dickerson in which he mentions the new feature. Adam has also reached out to explain that Etsy did not send out a teaser email. "Since search relevancy was launched, many sellers felt that they had lost some control over being able promote their listings. Michelle addressed this in her post in the forums. Many of those sellers wrote to our Support team to inquire about this. In response, we sent them a link to etsy.com/surprise. So, sellers who received that link got in direct response." He said Etsy did not send an email to users, but did posd the link to Etsy.com/Surprise on Twitter, Facebook, and in the Etsy Success newsletter.