Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri June 21 2019 12:54:02

eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay users say ads are clogging search results, making it frustrating when they're trying to find relevant listings after having sorted the results. There's no way of knowing what percentage of shoppers are aggravated by seeing sponsored ads at the top of their sorted search results or how many might be changing their behavior as a result. But what is clear is how passionately some eBay customers feel about the issue.

While users are accustomed to having eBay manipulate results through the Best Match default sort order using an algorithm that takes many factors into account, they expect clean results when they sort those results, which include the following options:

Time: ending soonest
Time: newly listed
Price + Shipping: lowest first
Price + Shipping: highest first
Distance: nearest first

A seller told us that this month, sponsored listings began appearing in search results when sorted by price (lowest) but are never actually the lowest cost items - "usually the direct opposite," he said. In addition, eBay displays the following message: "We removed some search results to show you the most relevant listings."

"My buyers are now finding it impossible to shop for the least expensive item with all these "sponsored listings" ruining the search. If my buyers or myself choose the "price+shipping: lowest" criteria as my preferred viewing preference of the listings, I expect to see just that. Instead eBay is removing listings from my search results and placing higher priced items first."

The reader pointed us to several threads on the eBay boards where buyers and sellers were discussing the issue. One buyer compared sponsored listings to robocalls or other intrusive advertising.

In a thread with the title, "Despise beyond words "sponsored" listings in search results," a user wrote, "Is it too much to comprehend that when I do a search for NEWLY LISTED items instead of BEST MATCH I only want to see NEWLY LISTED items come up??"

In another thread titled, "How do I hide Sponsored Listings," a buyer said sponsored listings were ruining their eBay experience and vowed never to purchase a sponsored item.

"I want a way to turn them OFF. I do not want to see the same overpriced item at the top, middle, and bottom of every page of results, especially when I have specific sort criteria. What is the point of "newly listed" or "price low to high" if the first results are the Sponsored Listing? I guarantee you that seeing these same listings over and over is not going to weaken my resolve and make me want to purchase these random items. Au contraire, mon frère. Any seller that makes frequent use of Sponsored Listings is going to go on my blacklist. You people are the worst."

eBay CEO Devin Wenig recognized the potential for ads to result in a negative experience on buyers. In November, he described his vision of having an algorithm decide where to place Promoted Listing ads on its site to help eBay monetize pixels on every screen. But he said eBay was going to be very careful about the impact of Promoted Listing ads on the buyer experience. 

"We don't think a good buyer experience is to have every pixel on every page promoted," he said. "We've done a lot of good work simplifying and clarifying relevance and personalization. We don't want Promoted Listings to undermine it, but we don't think that it will."

Should eBay reevaluate the decision to add Promoted Listing ads to the top of sorted search results? And for sellers who advertise through eBay Promoted Listings, would you like the ability to have greater control your ads' placement?



Comments (54) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 13:39:50 2019

I wonder how many of these ads ever result in a sale. Not just Ebay just search for something online or buy something once and the “Robo ads” just keep coming. I have an AD Blocker on that stops many from my view; sometimes up to 24 ads are blocked. When will it stop? When those paying for the ads find that it results in little to no additional sales.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 13:43:09 2019

Best way to turn them off and never see them again is to go to some other site. Ebay is a dinosaur just looking for a hole to crawl into. They are no longer relevant.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

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

Fri Jun 21 14:41:34 2019

Aren't sponsored listings a DUPLICATE of the original listing?

When I search, I always see two of the exact ad, one is sponsored.

Didn't eBay tell sellers they can't post duplicates and eBay actually takes them down if accidentally posted?

And now if the seller is willing to give eBay a higher final value fee....

The seller can submit a duplicate listing by submitting it as Sponsored?

Isn't eBay breaking it's own rules for a extra final value fee?

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Vicky This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 16:00:02 2019

DW needs to stop with his visions. He's killing the platform. My vision, he needs to go!

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: TheStoneColdTruth This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 16:57:46 2019

@Happy One - About 25% of my sales come through Sponsored Listings

@Just Plain Irritated - No, they are not duplicates. They are ad-links to the same listing that you have up. If one sells, it's either direct (no extra charge) or through promoted listings (extra charge). Same item, two different ways to get it. The rest of your post is moot since they aren't duplicates.

@Vicky - Couldn't agree with you more.  

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 17:15:15 2019

This is no different than when Ebay ALWAYS had the Chinese listings at the top of every search and no matter how you tried to filter them out they still showed up.  Not until buyers showed Ebay with their lack of purchases did anything change and that is what it  is going to take this time also.

The only thing that Ebay listens to is reduction in income when the buyers and Sellers complain.  Until it hits their pocketbook Ebay nor Wenig will pay any attention to anything that is said to them or about the site.

I am still trying to figure what Wenig did or said that has gotten Ebay up over $40 stock price when their sales have remained flat or negative compared to prior years and the site is on life support.  So these people know something we don't, like maybe there is an offer on the table for Ebay from a company that might make it a valid name again?

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 17:29:11 2019

its really stupid that ebay even puts ads on a site thats hard enough to find things.

Ebay does its best to confuse buyers, as well as hide listings.
I now get a dumb messge when I hit lowest price, it says " we hid some listings, click here to see them all "

but when I click there, nothing happens, it just reloads the same listings.

Ebay HATES giving its sellers success, so they rather just make ad click pennnies.



Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 17:30:10 2019

Ebay out right lies to buyers with their filters, you do not get the closest, you do not get the cheapest, or the highest, you get what ebay wants you to see.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 17:42:44 2019

''''Any seller that makes frequent use of Sponsored Listings is going to go on my blacklist.''''

And then tell them why!

Enough folks do that, this will effectively kill it.  Both birds with that stone, actually.

Everything else is just 'noise', to wit: ''''We don't want Promoted Listings to undermine it, but we don't think that it will.''''  (As in, it already is.)

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Jun 21 19:48:50 2019

Two days ago I noticed sponsored listings at the top of every search. Today, I don't see them. Did eBay already dump this scheme?  

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: industrystones This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 19:55:14 2019

@Vicky
DW needs to stop with his visions. He's killing the platform. My vision, he needs to go!

-- ''MY'' VISION: PUT DEVIN'S HEAD INTO A VICE JOE PESCI STYLE

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 21 20:35:59 2019

Mostly Chinese using the promoted listings like I thought they would. Cluttering up the results. I would be just at the top if it wasnt for them.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Jun 21 22:23:52 2019

I hate to say it but I broke down and promoted a few listings a couple of weeks ago just to see what would happen.  Views are up a little (low double digits instead of barely double digits) and one even acquired some watchers.  They're not pulling the trigger any more than the non-promoted listings with watchers though.

I did notice that the "trending" rate keeps creeping higher.  When I was picking the first few to promote, the trending rate was just over 3%.  Then it was just well into 4%.  Now it's 7% even!  Sellers are apparently willing to fork over 20% of every sale just to make some sales.

The rates are extortionate for dribs and drabs.  Sell half of my inventory by November?  I'd fork over almost half!  But for a sale or two each month, that's not worth a nickel over 13%.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Sat Jun 22 00:36:03 2019

I see 2 Sponsored Listings at the top of each ''Most Recent'' search, and also 2 at the bottom.  Usually those are 4 of the worst deals I have ever seen.  To answer @jacksparrow, yes, they are still there, have been there, and probably will be there for the foreseeable future.  At least that is what I am seeing in the searches I perform daily, your results may vary.

And it's very true that it is irritating, and NOT relevant to the search you are conducting.  It's like some type of rude insistence, like someone shoving a flyer in your face for the hundredth time.  Also see the Sponsored Listings in Sold results, top, bottom and throughout.  Don't want to miss an opportunity to annoy us.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

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

Sat Jun 22 02:21:52 2019

Yes, on the right side of the screen, I click on the photo of the item they show, and it reveals a list of NOT the item I wanted to see.
The disappointment drives me to bail out of the search.
So I get off the site and go find something else to do......

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Freeeeeeeee This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jun 22 03:18:18 2019

eBay is not the only site to have promoted listings. Just the last.  I have never had a single sale from a promoted listing anywhere.  Further more if there is one thing I despise it's a search engine telling me what it thinks I want.  It doesn't.  

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jun 22 10:01:13 2019

@SilverIceKing

"I am still trying to figure what Wenig did or said that has gotten Ebay up over $40 stock price when their sales have remained flat"

Wenig mentioned that he's more focused on increasing profit rather than increasing GMV. Basically his strategy now is to cut costs and increase fees from sellers. Commission on shipping, promoted listings, increased FVF for below normal metrics, reducing the Powerseller discount from 20% to 10% (and eventually to zero), all come out of the seller's pockets. And they care cutting cost to the bare bones on staff, and other expenses such as Ebay Open.  

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

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

Sat Jun 22 13:47:46 2019

Absolutely All of the Good People who used to offer the greatest vintage items have fled Ebay.
When that happens, you know evil is resident.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Sat Jun 22 14:23:15 2019

I did a search today that had about 100 results.  On the list of conditions, it said 1 was NEW (only 1).  Curious as to how much the 1 NEW one was, I clicked on it and got 5 results - at the top, 2 Sponsored (not NEW), then the 1 that was NEW, followed by 2 more Sponsored (not NEW).  So now you have to SEARCH YOUR SEARCH for the right result.

Perminate Link for eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results   eBay Buyers Grow Frustrated with Ads in Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sat Jun 22 15:15:23 2019

@Lightning - I had the same experience. Was looking for a particular item, and got two results. I clicked on one, and there were five more of the same item showed which were not returned in search results. I was tempted to contact the sellers of the other ones to ask if they knew their listings were not showing.

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