Is eBay putting ads before sellers' listings? The question is not just a philosophical one. A seller sent us a screenshot they had taken this week of an item page for their designer handbag. At the top of the listing was a strip of ads for other eBay listings (same product but from rival sellers). The element was titled, "People who viewed this item also viewed."
The reader said they saw the new feature intermittently. "I haven't figured out how to replicate it 100% each time, so perhaps it's dependent on the referral page, or perhaps they're just conducting multivariate testing."
The reader believes it may be the reason why eBay made the controversial decision to move the banner that advertised seller promotions (such as, "buy one get one at 50% off) from the top of the listing to underneath it, an unannounced change eBay made that we described in this recent blog post
We have not been able to duplicate the experience the seller saw where the "also viewed" items were above the actual listing. eBay often serves up different experiences depending on whether a visitor is coming to a page from an outside link versus searching directly on eBay.com - and it could be a test, as the reader speculated.
"It would be more reassuring if eBay conducted themselves with better communication and transparency on these types of decisions," the reader said. "As it is, it seems they have intentionally opted not to communicate changes in anticipation that dealing with these unpopular changes after the fact is easier for them than being proactive and communicative."
Since last year, eBay has been making changes that impact sellers without giving them any warning in advance, and delaying confirmation after the fact. And while eBay sellers always had a name and face to associate with eBay's Marketplaces business, that hasn't been the case since Hal Lawton's abrupt departure in August.
Let us know if you see ads for other listings at the top of item pages, and keep sending us screenshots of other changes you encounter.