Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun June 30 2013 22:18:17

eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

By: Ina Steiner

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EcommerceBytes readers are likely to have heard about eBay's Cassini search platform, but they're also bound to have questions about exactly what it is and how it will impact (or has impacted) them - both as buyers and sellers.

eBay's Vice President of Experience, Search and Platforms Hugh Williams spent 20 minutes with me on Friday answering questions about Cassini, and we're running the interview in two parts kicking off in Monday's Newsflash newsletter.

Some of the highlights include the following:

- eBay is trying to get Cassini to replicate the behavior of the old platform (Voyager) to make it a seamless transition, before eBay begins to make changes and innovate.

- The possibilities of things eBay can do in Best Match (which is the default sort order of search results) are opened up much wider by using the Cassini technology.

- Williams sees behavioral data as one of the ways to innovate in search ranking. I think this is one of the more significant aspects of Cassini and one that will make it difficult for sellers to determine the exposure their listings are getting in eBay search results.

- Another area that's important in search ranking is "imagery" - "I'm pretty excited about imagery, and I think the images are incredibly important and shopping is becoming more visual," he said.

Photos are so important to eBay that the company will begin enforcing new requirements tomorrow - in fact, sellers will no longer be able to list an item unless it includes at least one photo. (See last week's news story, "eBay to Forge Ahead with Photo Compliance Enforcement.")

Sellers are sensitive to the rate at which things change on the eBay platform. With Cassini, will there be a lot of tweaking and how would sellers keep up with changes? Williams said tweaking was not the word he would use - instead, the goal is "constantly innovating and improving the search experience on behalf of our sellers and our buyers." He also shared his attitude about changes to search during the holiday shopping season.

I was disappointed that eBay hadn't communicated with sellers about Cassini's roll out, especially given the fact that sellers wanted to measure the impact on their listings. You can read Williams' answer to my question about when Cassini fully launched on active listings on eBay.com in the interview.

Be sure to read Part 1 of the interview in tomorrow's newsletter (and stay tuned for Part 2 on Tuesday), and let us know what you think and what questions you have.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: richknobsales This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 22:59:02 2013

Constantly effing with the platform. Never the same place twice.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Soggy Dollar This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:07:31 2013

Of course they are going to constantly change the search platform during the Holiday rush -- why wouldn't they?  Ebay Management has NO CLUE what it is like to be a seller in a sea of sellers trying to get your products front and center of Best Match. Most of top management has never had to make a living as a seller on ebay. We pay ebay dearly to show our products, yet they consistently bring the .99 opening auctions from CHINA to top of Best Match because they get the bids. The more bids they get, the higher they go.  Of course they get the bids.  Sell for nothing, charge no postage, why not?   American small business sellers don't stand a chance with the new BM search criteria and we are dwindling trying to keep our heads above water.  

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Small Guy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:14:55 2013

Looking for something you could get a grasp on in his comments was like trying to find a raisin in a swamp.  

It reminds me of when I worked with engineers at a University.  I would ask a simple question.  They would talk for 20 minutes and ask... "What was the question again?"

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:28:03 2013

Interesting but...

There must be specific coursework at Stanford in evading direct questions and re-steering conversations and interviews.
I would be speechless it we aver have an interview with an Ebay ''exec'' and he actually and helpfully directly answers a question.
I have never heard 1 thing I did not know, was not generic and already known, or that could help me in any way in exactly 7 years.
Before that it was wonderful.
Mass Howler
(you have to interview these clowns like Al Sharpton does, corner them- then tell them that is a NON-ANSWER, they are young and you can fluster em Ina).

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:44:27 2013

Hugh would have been better to have declined this interview
Most who read this site come here with a pretty fair understanding about ebay
His statements may fly with first time buyers and stock holders but with the seasoned seller it's just plain disrepectful

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: askalice59

Sun Jun 30 23:51:24 2013

I keep getting emails showing me everything I researched the prices of so I could list my items. 'Am I still interested in these items?'. Hellow? I just received one email that told me how much I sold this week and did I want to spend it on those items? This is one thing Cassini is giving them. Clear your cookies and it really screws with Ol'Cassini.

Obvoiusly Cassini will decide what's best for all of us. We will not get to tweak our listings to rank better in the search. That isn't what eBay wants from us. We are in the dark. We should just blindly follow. Just give them your money coming and going, all of it.

I liked the lie about not screwing up our holiday sales. bwahaha  

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Jun 30 23:56:14 2013

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda....

Never have so many words been used to express so few meaningful thoughts.

Mr Williams answered direct question with blase generalities which were likely intended to deflect the question while seeming to provide an answer.

This reads like a release written by eBay's department of spin.

To the likes of Wall Street analysts and maybe to naive investors who never use eBay, the circular talk from Mr Williams probably makes an impression while saying very little.  

On the other hand, if you are an eBay seller, reading Part One amounts to little more than wasted minutes of your life which you can never get back.

Sellers are no better informed than they were yesterday due to Mr Williams evasiveness.

I hope Part Two provides actual useful information as opposed to the drivel in Part One.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:57:02 2013

Twenty minutes and absolutely nothing useful. I'm surprised it didn't take him an hour to say absolutely nothing. Bye-bye ebay! We just shuttered our store.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

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

Sun Jun 30 23:59:17 2013

Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.
I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don't speak out as plain as day?
And, fellow Texans, I'm for progress and the flag- long may it fly.
I'm a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don't-
I've come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare,
I'm for goodness and for profit and for living clean and saying daily prayer.
And now, my good friends, you can sleep nights, I'll continue to stand tall.
You can trust me, for I promise, I shall keep a watchful eye upon ya'll...

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 30 23:59:30 2013

I guess I should have added, that yes, your new search works just freaking great ebay. Our ebay sales were down almost 50% last year from the previous year and down another 48% this year. How's the rest of our business going you ask? Our non-ebay sales are up over 200% this year (more than triple last year). So where's the issue? Is it us or ebay????

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Jul 1 00:19:43 2013

“eBay is trying to get Cassini to replicate the behavior of the old platform (Voyager) to make it a seamless transition, before eBay begins to make changes and innovate.”

Seriously? Are we yet to see the worst that Cassini can do?—LOL

“The possibilities of things eBay can do in Best Match … are opened up much wider by using the Cassini technology.”

Now, that truly is frightening; yet if the Ho still can’t get his preferred national brand sellers, et al, settled down, all is lost; … and I will read no further as I do not wish to hear any more of eBay’s disingenuous nonsense, thank you …

Nevertheless, it appears that we can still be confident that whenever an eBay spokesperson's lips are moving they are being disingenuous ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 00:31:44 2013

Wonderful, they're going to use behavioral data. I'm certain that will create a mess.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Puamelia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 00:42:05 2013

It's amazing how good this guy is at saying a lot but saying absolutely nothing. Sound and fury.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 00:44:36 2013

ANNIE---

I love that quote--what IS that from???

But--I suspect that Mr. Hugh Williams is not of any sort of Texas background by genetics;  I suspect he is of Welsh background.

Funny---the English have NEVER trusted the Welsh.

If they all speak in garbled tones like this guy--and if they all use the word "I" incessantly;  I guess I can understand WHY  that might be.

Wasted time on this and wasting time on ebay.  His smarmy "inclusion" of "Sellers--of course"--as a definate AFTERTHOUGHT and the over emphasis on BUYERS told me ALL I need to know.

Same sugar honey ice tea different day.  

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 01:13:24 2013

Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

To summarize, Nothing was mentioned about compensation for 7 months of business loss due to the Cassini catastrophe.

Kudo to the ebay IT team? For doing daily live tests for 1.5 years.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Just Plain Irritated This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 01:19:07 2013

Blah, Blah, Blah.  Hugh used a LOT of words, but really said nothing.
What little he did say that made sense, could have been said in about two sentences.

Glad they plan to learn lots by playing games with our sales and our lives over the Holidays.

Anyone else feel like a Guinea Pig?

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 01:55:28 2013

One of my selling accounts have zero sales since 6/22.  That has *never* happened before.  

There is no explanation except that people cannot see the items.

If this does not improve we will not be here much longer.  

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 02:04:06 2013

As to those picture requirements, what a joke that is.

Take a look at this.
320846864661

There's a picture, yeah. But no picture of the item that is being sold.  
They could have posted a picture of a cute kitty or puppy.

If I tried that I would be slapped down hard!

I told ebay about this three times on the phone, and I told Uncle Griff.  

Nothing happened, and there are 4 million listings like that.

That same seller has 27,041 listings like that, with no valid pictures and with a toll free number in the listing, and when I called them they were ready to take my phone order immediately.

If I tried that I'd be disciplined by ebay.  

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: bellafabric This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 02:17:51 2013

I too shut down my store a few months ago and will not sign up for the new ''lower cost'' ebay store. I'll list for free and not pay for lost visibility. And, I moved my listings between two other venues, where I will pay seller fees when I have higher sell-through with google visibility.

Ebay, there's a JCP lesson y'all didn't seem to learn - tech people run retail marketing and merchandising into the ground. They tend to have a very bad track record on collectibles, too.

Perminate Link for eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search   eBay Opens Up About Cassini Search

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 02:55:51 2013

Pathetic. Can't eBay afford to hire someone that can give a direct answer to a question?

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