People are increasingly aware of how corporations are using algorithms behind the scenes, and a recent news story revealed an unexpected entity that is fighting back - a public school district filed a lawsuit
against Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Google, and YouTube, claiming their algorithms manipulate and exploit vulnerable young people.
Tech companies are watching their customers' every move to better target their marketing campaigns and boost revenue. But online sellers are also being scrutinized, something not lost on EcommerceBytes readers.
This hit home when reading a comment on the EcommerceBytes blog from a seller who said they go out of their way to foil eBay's algorithm.
The topic of the blog post was the vexing questions buyers ask sellers. Naturally, the topic turned to eBay's "offers" feature that allows buyers to negotiate a lower price - some sellers find it annoying when they make it clear they don't entertain offers but receive such requests anyway.
In their comment, the seller said
they always responded to offers with a counteroffer - even if it's just a dollar less than the asking price - because, they said, "that helps eBay's algorithm know you are trying to make a deal as opposed to a flat rejection."
Since eBay's algorithm takes into account buyer and seller behavior, it's not farfetched to think that eBay may be looking at how sellers handle offers.
The concern is how marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy use algorithms to determine which listings to show someone searching for an item - and in which order. This translates into higher or lower sales for a seller depending on the exposure their listings receive in search.
Complicating matters for online sellers is the fact that marketplaces now include promoted listings (ads) in search results - with little to no transparency on how sellers' paid and organic listings will appear. All of this makes it a challenge for sellers to optimize their listings, and many have turned to paying extra in advertising fees to gain visibility in search results.
But the more sellers who are paying to promote their listings, the more ads - and search results can get muddied. Marketplace Pulse highlighted this challenge last year in a post titled, "Amazon Is Burying Organic Search Results
"Of the first twenty products a shopper sees when searching on Amazon, only four are organic results. There is little space left for organic results at the top of the page, the real estate that drives most sales," Juozas Kaziukenas wrote.
We wrote about how customer claims (such as Item Not Received) negatively impact sellers' eBay search rankings in this October article
, including an embedded video of a presentation from eBay Open 2022 where executives discussed the latest factors that influence its search engine ranking.
Like the seller who makes sure they respond to every offer so as not to be penalized by eBay's algorithm, do you change your behavior so as not to hurt your standings in search? How do you outwit the algorithm?