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Thu June 6 2013 17:25:12

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

By: Julia Wilkinson

Sponsored Link

EBay VP, Experience, Search, and Platforms Hugh Williams presented a webinar on Wednesday, June 5, in conjunction with Page Mage Inc. and other sponsors about how eBay sellers could succeed in the new world of Cassini search, to which eBay is in the process of transitioning. 

While explaining some about how the new search will work, and some factoids about the volume eBay's search handles - over 250 million queries a day from 120 million accounts, and "maybe 400 million" at peak, sellers may be more interested in the answers he gave during the q & a portion of the webinar.

In general, Williams advised sellers who want to be successful with eBay search that they 1) need to be found in search; 2) have someone click on their item and 3) sell that item. He said sellers need to focus on their title words (although Cassini will be searching titles and descriptions both when it's fully implemented), use the catalog where possible (e.g. for an iPad), and use search refinements on the left of the page. Sellers need to "adopt the right item specifics," he said.

While search is important for eBay users, Williams stressed it was not the "be-all end-all," he said.

Items should also have "clear, comprehensive descriptions and return policy."

Photos are also important, as in eBay's new world of image rules they need to be high-resolution and with "no graffiti," said Williams.

Williams said eBay has been testing Cassini Search since about December 2012, and their goal was to change eBay search over to Cassini "without people noticing." When asked, he said they had not yet defined when Cassini would be deployed to all eBay's international sites, but that it would be "roughly by 2014."

Questions & Answers

The q and a session ran for about half an hour, with many questions about whether or not Cassini would show "bias" or favor certain types of items. When asked if a listing having html in it (such as with a colorful description template), Williams replied that they were "more interested in the content (words) in a listing."

However, he added that sellers should be mindful of what mobile shoppers would see (or not be able to see): "I see a lot of sellers using [Adobe] Flash," he said. "IPhone users don't see that, because the iPhone doesn't support Flash."

One user asked if "Good 'til Canceled' listings would get a demotion in search?"

"No they don't," Williams answered succinctly, adding sellers should "think about the best format for your item."

He emphasized that "categories are very important" to another question about whether Cassini would pay attention to "categories and sub-categories."

Another eBayer wanted to know if TRS (Top-Rated Sellers) would still be on top in search, with Best Match?

"Absolutely," answered Williams. "Study what it takes to be a top-rated seller."

Best Match Not Going Anywhere

The question "Will there ever be a default to search other than Best Match?" brought a similarly brief reply from Williams: "No."

When one questioner asked if emails would ever be mined for data, Williams said they were not today using emails to do that, but "if we felt it was the right thing, we'd do it with respect to (users') privacy."

New Vs. Used; Low vs. High-Priced

How much bias is given to new vs. used items, asked one eBayer, to which Williams replied, "No bias."

When another questioner asked, "Why are low-priced items prioritized over high-priced items?" Williams responded that was "not necessarily valid," and the question was asked with a subjective viewpoint. He said in the example of a search for a "black pencil skirt," there were "a lot of different answers."

New Sellers

"How does a new seller get quick search results?" asked one webinar attendee. "I see it all the time," said Williams. "Trust, value, relevance are the basic principles."

He said some sellers will call and say "search is broken," but the problem will be with the seller's prices. Williams said you have to have a good price point and sometimes with sellers "often you're not priced competitively anymore; see what your competition is doing."

Williams also said no bias was given to "mobile listings."

When asked if taking returns for 60 days would give a seller better boost than 14 days in search, Williams said it depends on "What the customer is expecting"; e.g., if in your type of product category other sellers offer 60 days, "that's expected," and "buyers are very sensitive to returns."

Similarly, there is "no magic formula" in terms of whether a sellers uses the full length of a title for his listing or not. "Make sure your item definitively and accurately describes the item."

The question many were waiting for was "Will Cassini support wild-card searches?" Williams said he too was "waiting for this one" and that they had no plans to support wild cards. "We've turned our focus very much on investing in technology about understanding what the buyer is asking, and doing a great job of matching that," he said.

Though some things are changing with the new eBay search being rolled out, some familiar things will stay the same. The abbreviation "vtg" will still find "vintage" items, according to Williams.

What do you think about these changes to eBay's slowly-rolling-out Cassino search? What would you have asked Williams if you had the chance? Post a comment or question here!




Comments (47) | Permalink

Readers Comments

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

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

Thu Jun 6 18:43:01 2013

Looks like nothing concrete filled with empty promises.

The ''level playing field for all sellers'' is a funny one.

I would of asked him if he ever sold anything on eBay and how can he look himself in the mirror every morning.

So eBay is the best there is...

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

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

Thu Jun 6 21:06:53 2013

More vague generalities.

More evasions.

More code.

More lack of respect and contempt for sellers.

More LIES.

More SECRETS.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Thu Jun 6 22:07:36 2013

The only hope we are having is that ebay will screw up so bad that we are the only sellers remaining so then we will finally have page view visibility on ebay search once more.

Millions of listings will soon be unable to relist because of the picture requirements. so it is slightly possible that we who know this is coming may for a short time finally get a few more sales.

But it is still a sorry venture to be selling on ebay. Donahoe you suck because this situation is bankrupting so many sellers and because you grant no access to technical support or have any concrete answers to the seller community as to why visibility in ebay search engine has plummeted to
near nothing exposure for seller listings.

Many times i have called eBay and said that Omniture is reporting the facts and it says ebay search engine is only delivering 1-2 % of all my page views. when before it delivered 80-90%

Every time the CSA tells me that Omniture site catalyst is broken.

This is another lie. Omniture has always reported facts. Omniture is correctly that ebay search engine is broken.

Donahoe it is criminal for you not to address this fact that ebay search engine is only delivering 1-2 % visibility to sellers listing.

hey! we have all invested our lives and fortunes into ebay.

To do us like you are is a real sham on you. And because 10 months now i have been fighting to survive my business on you site with nothing but lies and deceptive rabbit trails i believe you are a real devil.

Most of the CSA now know it is their job to BS and hang up on us.

They are just showing up to do their time and get their pay. Even they know they can do nothing to help the sellers. So they just want you gone off their phone line.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Thu Jun 6 22:41:51 2013

@Map - umniture is broken and has been for a long time. completely useless.  use your own stat utility.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Thu Jun 6 23:24:35 2013

Omniture is NOT Broken.

Ebay came out lat fall on the announcement board and reported that Omniture was broken.

Omniture is not broken. Ebay is blaming omniture as a cover that ebay search is truly broken and ebay is pointing omniture as the culprit.

What does the Omniture Corporation have to say about this?

Has anyone asked Omniture or has their been any official press release by Omniture about their information about their reports of ebay seller accounts?

I 100% confident that the Omniture reports that i am recieving about the traffic and pagviews to my listings are true and factual.

when the first of the month forecast would come out and predict how many page views we were forecast to receive, i could plan my entire business expenditures around that forecast.

Omniture was all ways hitting the mark.

In july & August 2012 Omniture started reporting the down turn in pagviews and it was showing me that ebay search engine was taking a huge drop to the bottom. From July 18th to October 2012 we went from 30K pageviews a month to 2K per month.

Ebay search engine delivered 80-90% of our page views before July 18th and now only 1-2% by October 2012.

We ony get about 2000 pagviews per month and out of those 2% are comming from the ebay search engine. Per Omniture, the rest of the page views come from google who i know is providing us customers on ebay.

Ebay is not making me one single sale.

It is google who makes us a sale on ebay. Ebay does nothing for me but charge me fees.

Fact Fact Fact. Omniture is working fine.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: blaumann2 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 6 23:36:46 2013

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 6 23:55:35 2013

@map

You mean you get an ANSWER when you use Omniture?

It hasn't functioned for a year now for us. CSR was a helpful as hitting myself in the head with a hammer.

And that hammer thing would have been less annoying.

All it EVER says is
YOUR SESSION HAS EXPIRED PLEASE REFRESH THE PAGE.

Which does nothing.

So if Omniture is reporting the truth? No wonder they want to get rid of it.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 00:09:23 2013

There is no opportunity for success on Ebay for small sellers. You cannot create a business plan based on maybe your item will be seen. Donahoe made it clear that just because you have an eBay seller's account and pay to list items, does not mean anyone will see that item. I know I have seen my visits drop from 14,000 or more per month to less than 3000. That is a huge difference. Either Ebay is failing all the way around or they have shifted my items into the Land of Invisibility.  

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 01:13:34 2013

From CEO to VP to CSRs, all LIES.

Cassini now on 2014 schedule?  Ebay did not just test Cassini on Dec 2012, it did a SECRET LAUNCH that caused a global blackout at ebay.

ebay will continue to do SECRET LAUNCHES until all small American sellers are terminated.

Two full years of testing?   This is totally absurbed.  Clearly another BIG LIE.




EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Jun 7 03:55:17 2013

I think that with 200 million listings it is going to be impossible to get seen whatever.

So sellers should diversify and give up thinking that ebay will be their friend.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: WatchCount.com
Web Site

Fri Jun 7 05:16:21 2013

Thanks very much for the run-down on that, Julia. I had originally registered and intended to attend the webinar, but couldn't do so at last minute.

BTW, for anyone still eager to search eBay with wildcards, we do offer an eBay wildcard search tool over at www.WatchCount.com/wild/ . Not only that, the tool is also good for searching Completed Listings while exposing final Best Offer selling prices.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Jun 7 07:37:00 2013

Ming - are you commenting on eBay or the Feds? Oh yeah, you did say ''sellers'' and not ''citizens'' ;  )

''When one questioner asked if emails would ever be mined for data, Williams said they were not today using emails to do that, but ''if we felt it was the right thing, we'd do it with respect to (users') privacy.'' ''   -  Oh Heck, Mine Away!!!! Might as well get in line with NSA!


On the positive side, I've noticed a few changes to item specifics for clothing on the listing frame that make more sense. Only one section for color (no sub-section)
Seems like that makes more sense for search filtering - if that is important as Williams seems to state.  

I still think there are too many choices for some clothing categories:   For ''skirt length'' the choice should simply be: Above knee, Knee, Below Knee (or simply a field to put in the measurement) - not the 5 or 6 choices they have now.  

And I still wish for a usable ''business policies'' field for everyone - a field similar to the ''item condition'' or ''return policy'' field. That would get a lot of text out of the ''item description'' for some & keep that area pithy.  

The current ''business policies'' option is not available to all and has a learning curve to use it if it comes pre-filled with all your policies.  Some seller policies are commonly stated in the item description for every listing due to no room for policy clarification in the current fields available for shipping, discounts, etc….

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jun 7 07:56:44 2013

What I do not understand is why doesn't Williams just lay it out---tell us what one needs to do to get visibility.

I'm wondering if he even knows.  It's like they've created this algorithm that they can't control, or dare I say, is smarter than they are.  LOL

As for Omniture, Wikipedia states:Omniture was an online marketing and web analytics business unit in Orem, Utah that was acquired by Adobe Systems. The company operated until 2011 as a business unit within Adobe called the Omniture Business Unit, but as of 2012, Adobe began the process of retiring the Omniture name as former Omniture products were integrated into the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Ina or Julia, is is possible for you guys to check with Adobe to see if Omniture still functions?  

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 09:55:25 2013

What it takes to be a trs is slanyted and rigged numbers for the large volume sellers. There is no level playing field.....

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Jun 7 09:59:08 2013

In November eBay said the reports were finally fixed - I've just sent an inquiry to eBay to check the current status.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Fri Jun 7 11:01:27 2013

@ Ina our omniture reports work just fine.

Every time i call ebay customer support and tell them that we have tweeked & edited every listing to be in accordance to Ebay spring & Fall seller updates, google updates and we have gone over 100% of all known ebay policy & rules compliance. per posted ebay policy and all CSR recommendations to our listings since August 2012.

Every time i mention that page views have plummeted and are currently as of today's date still holding at 1-2 % of page views are coming from the ebay search engine then they always tell me that omniture is broken.

eBay CSR agents are trained to say Omniture is broken.

Most CSA do not know how to log into Omniture linked to you ebay account and most of the time the agent does not know what Omniture is or have not heard the name omniture.

If you tell them site traffic link then they can find it but they never go there much.

But they all know to say omniture is broken when you press them.

It is NOT BROKEN! Omniture is reporting 100% Factual information.

There is a problem if you book mark the omniture page after you log in. after you have logged out then the bookmarked page will not let you log back in. You have to click on seller manage your store and go down to the bottom and click on the link for site traffic.

Mrs. Ina if you need charts of my page views i have them for you.

Also i have been reporting that the Global shipping program has been listing the United States as a country that we do not ship to. I found it burred in the long list of Countries where it could hardly bee seen. sent you a copy & paste. I found that the problem went back at least 3 months. The item numbers that i sent you to look at have been fixed by ebay. when that did a fix they fixed the ended listings that showed the exclusion list with the United States being in that long list of excluded countries. I took screen shots so i can back up what i reported.

Ebay has already taken the stance with me that it did not affect my sales. I argue that it did because in ebay search US site that mostlikly my listings got very few page views because the listings were excluded from be shipped to the United States and thus no sales.

Google however still makes me sales on ebay because Omniture shows they are my #1 source bringing customers to my ebay listings. It ain't ebay doing crap for me.

10 months long now and all ebay does is stall, lie and duck.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jun 7 12:05:21 2013

Let the back-tracking begin!

I just can't take anyone from eBay seriously any more. I don't trust them. I don't believe them.

At this point, we all know that we can pretty much IGNORE any promises that are made.

Smart sellers know that this information is useless... and by the time something is announced (if it's announced at all), the decision or policy has already been reversed or is obsolete.

I'm so glad that I don't have to put up with this any more. It's such a blessing for me to be free from that pack of scoundrels! I'll never go back again. NEVER!

Every week there is more news about eBay that continually reaffirms to me that I made the correct decision to leave!

Fool me once, shame on YOU! Fool me five-hudred-seventy-eight times... shame on ME!

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

by: Henry This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 12:33:14 2013

I listened to this webinar. First, I thought Mr. Williams was poorly prepared. But what I found most fascinating was his focus on Trust, Value, and Relevance. Here are 3 simple questions based on those words.

1) How can you trust a company that charges a FVF on shipping but does not want you to tell buyers that is the reason shippng costs have increased?

2) Where is the value to either the buyer or seller when eBay charges a FVF on shipping charges?

3) Where is the relevance when you search on keywords for flatware and get over 4,000 listings for auto parts?

It would be refreshing for eBay to have a spokesperson who was open, honest and not so evasive.

Trust = Honesty
Value = Quality Service for Fees
Relevance = Search that works

Just my 2 cents!

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Map
Web Site

Fri Jun 7 13:12:13 2013

@Anonymous Annie

I hear you. My problem is that i could not just ship to other sites. Also i had several employees to keep paid so that my assembly line did not get interrupted. I had to try to get ebays attention and stick with them.

10 months later we went from July 2012 being our record month in sales ever on eBay to Oct 2012 being the start point of 1-2% visibility in ebay search.

10 months later all my employees are layed off or fond new jobs. One of my best employees is now loosing his house & we are keeping our spare vehicles and buying a big tent as part of our emergency readiness kit just in the event we default on our rent payments.

The whole time ebay tells me i am doing great and i should be happy with the sales we are getting.

Ebay new level playing field language rings very socialist in my ears.

They view my business like i am just one person selling junk i do not want anymore and that I should just be happy to be one of their new "Casual sellers" per their new advertisement to "Sell Casually"

We are now selling on Amazon. All my attention in the next few months is going into Amazon. We will be holding ebay at 500 free listings.

I have to say that i fell prey to the tactic that ebay is keeping me too busy to leave them by tweeking, fixing and researching something that can not possibly be overcome.

I do thank my many Women Customers who purchase used auto parts from us on ebay.

The Donahoe is so wrong with his stereotype that it is only 42 year old men who are buying used car parts on ebay.

We have many women customers who buy parts and i assume they are installing them too because they ask me questions.

I know we will make it thru this but it has just been such a disgusting experience.

EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search   EBay's Hugh Williams on Succeeding with Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jun 7 15:00:40 2013

Map writes: ''All my attention in the next few months is going into Amazon.''

A very wise decision! --- For a long time, I thought I'd try to strike a balance of listing on eBay + my own web site + advertising on Amazon. It was a nice way for me to slowly ease in to things and get comfortable with the new surroundings.

When I finally made the decision to COMPLETELY DROP eBay, I was able to devote MORE TIME to my web site and my Amazon ads. --- And, surprise-surprise, it paid-off dramatically!!

By LEAVING eBay... and by NOT spending my time and effort with constant tweaks, PITA customers, and listing items that got NO EXPOSURE... I was able to list more and DO MORE elsewhere.

Obviously, I lost some sales by abandoning eBay... but my web site GAINED MANY MORE SALES in the process!!

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