How would you feel if eBay rewrote the titles of your listings when displaying them in search results? We haven't heard any reports that eBay is doing it, but the company filed a patent describing the concept.
At first glance, this may seem like a really bad idea, but there are few factors that validate the rationale for doing so.
"It is challenging to present a long description for a product listing on a mobile screen. Specifically, a screen size of a mobile phone is less than a screen size of a computer (e.g., laptop, desktop), and long titles in a listing may not be displayed fully on a mobile screen."
"In some cases, displaying a listing, or a search result that includes a long description, may consume screen space on a mobile device, and may impact the user experience for a buyer querying for one or more items."
The other reason we can think of: sellers often try to use the title field to optimize for search. In other words, sellers may put lots of keywords and include model numbers in the title so eBay's search engine will find their listing, resulting in a title that doesn't necessarily read easily or grab shoppers' attention.
But how would eBay re-write all of those listing titles? Using Machine Learning, of course. It explained in part, "The raw titles and user behavior data may be used to train a machine learning model to identify one or more parameters that may be used to refine a raw, seller-supplied, title to generate a refined title that leads to a desired outcome."
It all comes down to execution. How confident can sellers be that eBay could create a system that re-writes a shorter title that would be ideal to grab buyers' attention?
If sellers are skeptical about eBay's skills in title-writing, the feeling is mutual: eBay wrote in its filing, "Often times, a seller may input unnecessary or duplicate information when providing a description for an item for sale."
It also wrote, "Moreover, some descriptions included by a seller in a listing may, unintentionally, negatively impact the seller's goal of selling an item at a desired price (e.g., a highest possible price)."
If eBay thinks having a separate title to display in results is a good idea, why not allow sellers to create two titles when listing an item for sale: one that's optimized for the eBay search engine, and a shorter one that's optimized for shoppers' attention (and mobile devices) that would be displayed in search results?