Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Sept 29 2021 13:53:58

Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers have been buzzing about eBay's new cost-per-click ads where sellers can vie for top placement in search results. In explaining its Promoted Listings Advanced ads, eBay said, "It works by allowing you to target the keywords that matter to you, and you then bid for the number one slot in eBay search results."

But sellers are concerned about the impact of the program (see the companion post from Tuesday, "Some Blame Slow Sales on New eBay CPC Ads").

A seller who goes by the handle glasser wrote in a thread on the eBay discussion boards, "We should not be competing against each other on based on who pays for promotions or clicks. It should be based on how well we write titles and descriptions, price, customer service, etc. eBay was conceived as a level playing field. We shouldn't have to pay for a service - better search results - that we can get through competition."

When someone said eBay was only making available the number one slot to CPC advertisers, another replied, "So only the "winner" gets to pay for the clicks. That certainly is an odd model."

But since the top spot will feature the listing from the seller willing to pay the most for that spot, it means sellers get to buy their way to the top even if they don't have the most relevant listing. (Otherwise why would they pay to appear at the top?)

As ad revenue grows, it can become addictive to ecommerce platforms. CNBC noted last week that Amazon is adding more sponsored product ads to the top of search results - from a normal two to three to up to six ad listings in search results.

"In 2018, Amazon leapfrogged Microsoft to become the third-largest ad platform in the U.S., trailing only Google and Facebook," according to CNBC. eBay, which has promised growth through ad revenue, is clearly watching, and it's not a stretch to think eBay would also add more CPC ads to the top of search results, potentially pushing down more relevant listings.

eBay seller glasser said sellers marketing against each other on the same platform seemed like a fool's errand and said they would look into Facebook or Google before paying eBay's CPC model.

"Will eBay's pay per click come with targeting? or is just based on the most basic of keyword searches? If I sold auto parts, I would want to be sure that my listing was seen by someone who owned the type of car I had parts for. Not someone who did a more generic search."

The issue isn't new (see this 2019 post about buyer concerns) - but eBay's new cost-per-click Promoted Listings Advanced ads are raising the issue anew.

Comments (28) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Sep 29 18:17:33 2021

I'm looking at the Big Picture in terms of all the articles about Ebay, Etsy and Amazon here.
I've concluded that our greatest need, right now, is for a User-centric outlet. Where OUR businesses and weekend sellers can get back to bringing home the bacon.
Corporate - centric doesn't fit our Bacon - Homing model.
Time is being wasted.
Hundreds of Thousands of us are sitting on The Gold Mine.
Waiting....

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 29 21:50:43 2021

mafia ponzi scheme

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 29 22:30:45 2021

Whenever I search on eBay to research pricing for my new items, I now stop and click those top ads, 4, 5, 10 times.  You know, for research.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Nothingnewecrater This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 00:10:29 2021

@Shanna Hahahaha Hahahaha never stop

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: manny This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 04:31:36 2021

What is most alarming about this latest eBay revenue generator for me as a seller is this; the cost has to be raised by sellers somehow, and there’s only one way to go for this, since sellers cant continue to swallow the added costs, they have to price their goods accordingly, and even though the CPC scheme has pushed the item down buyer’s throat, you can only push them on pricing so far, and soon enough you’ll see  a rise in not as described returns, and as expected, eBay will side with buyers, so sellers have to ask themselves the question, do I want to take the gamble of increased level of returns, their cost, and the disruption they cause, not to mention items arriving with damages, and missing parts?
If I go with this scheme, price increase on my items would be considerable which carries the inherent danger of them not presenting good value for money, and potential temptation for buyers to return them. Thanks, but, NOT FOR ME!

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 06:17:55 2021

Fees fees fees more fees.
Anywho, I'm getting as much and more sales from other alternative platforms.  I may just walkaway from Ebay altogether.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 06:20:27 2021

the cost has to be raised by sellers somehow, and there’s only one way to go for this, since sellers cant continue to swallow the added costs, they have to price their goods accordingly, and even though the CPC scheme has pushed the item down buyer’s throat, you can only push them on pricing so far, and soon enough you’ll see  a rise in not as described returns, and as expected, eBay will side with buyers
^^
Don't forget:  In one month the postage and delivery fees by USPS & UPS, et al will increase.  Higher cost to the buyer.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Sep 30 07:48:43 2021

Yesterday I searched for a designer accessory by a certain high end brand name.  The #1 item at the top of the search results was an item that was NOT the brand name that I was looking for.  It was a cheap generic "related" item (not even the accessory that I was looking for) and to no surprise, sold by a company in China.

eBay's incessant greed continues to destroy the platform.   I supposed that the best that sellers can hope for is that this is just one of their many schemes, that like the others they have implemented over the years, will eventually be sunset.

eBay is so saturated with algorithms and schemes I am not sure how a buyer ever finds what they are looking for.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 30 10:13:14 2021

Our sales are up without any promotion.

Maybe we need to raise our prices!

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 30 10:18:42 2021

@Rexford, I have NO problem finding what I want to buy on eBay.

Here's my search I check several times a day: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=leatherman&_sacat=0&_so
p=10

It
works and works well from a buyers standpoint. . . .Nothing beats eBay for the selection of tools available for sale!

PS: Why not tell us what you're searching for and see if we come up with the same results????? I gave you my search and I bet it comes up the same as it does for me!

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Sep 30 11:01:59 2021

@toolguy - I don't think that most people are looking for tools on eBay. If I needed a tool, I'd drive to Home Depot, which is about five minutes away, or Lowes, which is about seven minutes away. The only reason I search on eBay is for collectibles for my own collections, or to research prices of items I want to list in my eCrater store.

As for paying for clicks, I can see many sellers being clicked out of business in an attempt to pay more for higher placement than their competition.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 30 11:11:19 2021

@iheartjacksparrow

The tools I sell on eBay you can't buy at Home Depot.

The tools I buy on eBay you also can't buy at Home Depot because they are NO longer made!

aka: Leatherman Kick, Fuse, Blast, Core, Mini, and many others that haven't been manufactured in years. I've bought (2) on Mercari and the other (14) on eBay!

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: SoniaD This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 12:26:49 2021

It would be a complete waste of time for a seller of the items I search for to pay for clicks.  At most, there are 5 items returned per search.  That is if they are correctly described.  Fakes, however, abound and I see that it might benefit the sellers of those to try and scam an unwary buyer by higher placement.  All in all, this is why I buy almost nothing on eBay these days.  Don't sell any more either as I've moved entirely to another platform.  Personal items I want to get rid of go via local sales.  eBay is now the high speed highway that I go under or over in order to get where I'm going just as fast!

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 12:31:23 2021

I generally sell unique items that are often the only one on eBay so why would I pay for extra promotion. eBay has been trying this in differing forms for over 20 years. Just another money grab

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 13:06:49 2021

“ The tools I sell on eBay you can't buy at Home Depot. ”

Which is precisely why - when you can manage to stay on topic - your boasts about sales on a platform you have disavowed bear no relevance on this topic.  You sell in a niche.  A very small one in this world of infinite ‘stuff’ at that.  

Well, except for confirming what’s already known by those paying more attention than seeking it - that niche categories - especially those with narrowly applicable detail attributes easily matched without eBay’s cross contaminating algorithms interfering - mean such sellers need not be concerned with needing to enter eBay’s CPC predator infested swamp. Nobody likely competing for today’s prey.  

Same for searching stuff in a niche.  Though a thoughtful mind would remember they have no way to know what they don’t know (or are not shown as an otherwise viable choice), when asserting all is well while the gators encircle.

So now, all that’s really left is to continue to accept eBay’s increasingly distasteful exploitation while hustling that few C-notes worth of monthly ‘successes’ that periodically trickle down that your endeavors on that increasingly ‘managed for maximum take’ platform will produce.  

……..

Meanwhile, who this will impact, are those sellers who are not necessarily commodity brokers, rather offer ‘discontinued’ or pre-owned items which eBay has lumped into their concept of ‘manufactured inventory’ they believe is their right to manipulate within their concept of the overall ‘market’.  That is, those sellers of such who don’t have the economy of scale volume that those with ad ‘budgets’ do and can afford to even consider eBay’s Orwellian notion of how to ‘level’ the potential for exposure.

And while this may not even register to the niche, at least not right away - it will eventually elbow out (even more), mom and pop, as their exposure is further masked by the affluent, and by eBay’s schizophrenic AI.  Which means niche buyers who might also be tempted to browse, will be disenchanted with their more general ‘searches’ and not bother.  Which means they eventually may not bother with eBay - despite the niches left - either.  In fact, that’s already happened more than they want to admit with every ‘enhancement’ they conjure up.  Which is not a good long term growth strategy (imagine that) for eBay.  

This will ‘level’ things just fine.  Right down to bare rock.  And a pile of old tools and such here and there.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 13:50:08 2021

"Money for nothing and your chics for free"

While the topic here ISNT the great 80s rock groups Dire Straits, their song is more then appropriate for this aka eBays latest scheme to rip sellers off.

In eBayland, some citizens are always more important then others (buyers over sellers, eBay brass & employees over sellers, dead rats over sellers) in this latest scheme - the list expands to the point where eBay doesnt even try hidding it anymore.

You can be the worst seller ever (and I FULLY advocate kicking bad sellers off eBay) and buy your way to the top so that bad sellers with deep pockets or even good sellers with deep pockets can now trample the masses.

I dont buy my items for $1 at flea markets or garage sales (like all the uber cool youtube eBay sellers that write columns here), I source my items and products from direct sources, industry leaders and the makes themselves.

Everyone thinks theres SO MUCH MARGIN in things ... there ISNT. Its a box moving game.

Theres no money left to pay eBay for space I should have already earned - by being a (now defunct) Top Rated Seller with %100 feedback. I ship same next day and dont sell used junk that causes "he said/she said issues".

Like others here, I should be "eBays golden child", but its more like Im eBays "bast@rd child" as its evident in how I get treated.

NYC and other large cities do this with parking - selling time and not the space - allowing them to be paid multiple times for the same space for virtually the same time.

Its NEVER been proved as a successful concept for sellers, and I know at least 2 large retailers that went oob from it!

Its obvious that eBay cant grow the platform any more then they are now - THIS is a statement to that fact - so they will now try and get it through advertising revenues.

eBay (of course) is the least honest company on the planet - so how does anyone know "what clics" even worked? You could pay for all kinds of things and eBay could simply say "sorry, didnt result in a sale" .... raise another glass at Walkers!

eBay ROUTINELY violates numerous US trade laws - you cant really blame ANYONE for not trusting them, I know I dont.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Gin This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 16:07:38 2021

After 15 years.....we have seen a simple form, to make a few bucks, change and change.  It is now too much work, too many fees, low profits, sellers get ripped off by ebay and dishonest buyers.....we are done as many others have also chose to do.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 18:30:56 2021

I am almost at the point of where @GIN is. Despite having just about the best prices on my items with 5 star reviews, and constantly adding new items I still seem to be stagnant as far as sales (actually down the past couple of months). Then after that dealing with the returners ,scam returners, and the people who just lie to try and get things for free (really putting a dent in my margins). Then after that dealing with ballooning costs ...product cost, freight costs, shipping to customer costs. Then after that a major slow down in manufacturing and freight shipping....means you have to order far in advance and lay out 3x the cash you normally do.

Then after all of that ebay couldnt have picked a better time to pick the pockets of sellers. They just handed the control over all the top spots to the Chinese sellers. You know thats who's going to jump on this.

And at a time when it is almost impossible to find what you are looking for on ebay...they do this.

I really am close to the end. There's nothing left. Despite the more and more work I put in, the more and more $ I spend. Sales stay the same....only I dole out more $, and work more. Now they want more $$...or I will get passed up on search? Enough is enough.

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: Helloitsme This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 19:05:00 2021

With over 200 million visits a month to eBay UK it could be said that eBay's arch enemy is it's success. With every John Doe and his cousin wanting to sell on there, eBay is struggling to cope with this volume of sellers all wanting to make a fortune. So me thinks eBay come up with these ideas in the hope that a few disgruntled seller's will leave -making way for the new batch of wide eyed excited newbies that come along & the que is never ending...kind of like McDonald's when they opened up after the lockdown.....

Perminate Link for Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results   Buying Your Way to the Top of eBay Search Results

by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 30 23:08:59 2021

I hear you Geetar....

Truth is selling on eBay is borderline not worth it. With ever shrinking margins, flat sales (at best), and increasing wages everywhere in the US, one can do almost anything, and in some cases nothing at all, and do better than selling on eBay.

Once people do the math and figure this out, no amount of fee churn will help eBay. It's one thing for people to take their products elsewhere, but once people sell their time elsewhere, that is when eBay will have problems that are irreversible.

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