Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Sept 21 2019 17:06:47

eBay Admits New Promoted Listing Policy Can Hamper Visibility

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay was forced to admit that a new policy that went into effect this month can result in listings getting zero visibility in search results, though it disputed the scale of the impact.

The issue arose when an online-selling guru named Don, aka The Auction Professor, posted a YouTube video with a blunt message for eBay sellers: "If you do Promoted Listings, I would honestly recommend ending them all right now." 

He said some ad blockers used by shoppers to block ads across the Internet were blocking eBay Promoted Listing ads, and because eBay now only shows a listing once - either the Promoted Listing or the organic listing - those buyers using ad blockers might never see a seller's listing. 

eBay announced the new policy on September 4th calling it "Removal of duplicated promoted and non-promoted listings in search" and explaining, "If you are using Promoted Listings, only one of your listings, either promoted or non-promoted will appear in a given set of search results, giving buyers a cleaner, more relevant search experience." eBay did not give sellers advance warning, and the policy is troublesome in and of itself.

But as the Auction Professor pointed out, if an ad blocker blocks a seller's Promoted Listing in a particular search, that listing would never be seen by the shopper in that search result. 

The video went viral - numerous readers sent us the link, and The Auction Professor later shared that it was the victim of a "massive hate filled comment attack" after another YouTube channel posted what he said was a "a BS video about me."


However, the head of eBay Seller Experience left a comment on the video confirming the Auction Professor's claim that if a Promoted Listing was blocked by an ad blocker, the listing would have zero visibility in search (or rather, not disputing the fact). Harry Temkin's wrote the following in his comment on the Auction Professor's video:

"I am the Head of Seller Experience for eBay, and I appreciate your video and everyone's comments.  I would like to provide some feedback - Ad blockers generally are intended to block intrusive ads (like pop-ups) that disrupt the user experience. We have designed our Promoted Listings ads to align natively with our site experience, and most ad blockers do not block that sort of non-intrusive content. However, there are a host of ad blockers on the market, and each maintains its own user settings and policies distinguishing between intrusive ads and acceptable native content. Currently, our data suggests that promoted listings are being blocked for less than 2% of traffic. Like other marketplaces and social networks, we are constantly evaluating our user experience and our advertising programs, including the impact of ad blocker software on the content we make available."

While it may be concerning to sellers that some ad blockers block Promoted Listings, the real problem is the new eBay policy. After all, if you do a Google search for "eBay green hats," you'll see an ad for an eBay listing selling a green hat, followed by organic results for green hats on eBay. If Google decided that "either promoted or non-promoted will appear in a given set of search results, giving buyers a cleaner, more relevant search experience," it seems assured eBay would object.

Here's a link to information about the new eBay policy that it sprung on sellers this month. The fact that eBay has been reaching out to numerous selling gurus on YouTube to try and clarify the issue indicates it may be feeling the effect of sellers cancelling their Promoted Listing ads. eBay is counting on advertising for revenue growth - and it seems sellers have gotten their attention.



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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Admits New Promoted Listing Policy Can Hamper Visibility   eBay Admits New Promoted Listing Policy Can Hamper Visibility

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

Sat Sep 21 18:47:37 2019

What's going to happen in the future is simple. If you don't use promoted listings, ebay will more than likely not how your listings more often. They will try and starve you into using promoted listings. And just wait until ebay starts the pay per click feature. Enjoy!

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by: Cosmic This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 21 19:53:58 2019

On top of this, eBay is determined to eliminate your organic listing if you have a promoted listing and messing up search filters by inserting promoted listings within checked search filters, so the result is a mixed deck of listings rather than the older ordered list . one criteria  will also will use the amount that the seller pays to determine where the listing position will show up in search.   This policy has the result  that your organic listing will not show so your fees would be the basic FVF plus whatever your promotion rate is. The result is that you are paying extra fees to eBay with little additional benefit. You might have an advantage if you pay the more promotion %. Take this in conjunction with the earlier report that eBay is cutting back on advertising and in fact did not spend what it had budgeted.  Years ago SEO's had programs where search placement was based on bidding or a similar  programs. This eBay policy is reflective of the failure of leadership to be able to increase Gross sales and an attempt to retain bottom line at the expense of the sellers. There are many eBay polices than run in opposition to each other.  We had understood promotions to be an attempt and effort to promote listing outside the eBay environment. It has become just a money grab and sets sellers against each other. All while eBay is pissing off buyers.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 21 21:54:29 2019

Maybe eBay ought to get their collective heads out of their 'data' and start LISTENING to the actual folks who are fed up with their sputum.

That's them over there, waving bye-bye (data). Or more often, not bothering to (not data).

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

Sat Sep 21 22:19:49 2019

What I also find very amusing is that Ebay does not say anything about even trying to fix the problem unless I just completely missed it.  So yes Ebay admits that they have an issue When Using these changes, but I do not see anywhere in his response that Ebay is going to fix the problem.  Once again Ebay is going to do nothing short of telling Sellers that once again this is their problem not Ebays.  just another way to squeeze more money from their sellers.  Then Ebay wonders why they continue to lose market share to almost all of the other Ecommerce platforms daily.

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by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 21 22:28:48 2019

I wonder if this is the same crap over at Etsy?  Ever since they changed over to their new advertising program, sales have been way down.

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by: Mamak This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 21 22:53:39 2019

I normally promote at above trending rates and about 50% of my sales are organic sales and 50% are promoted sales.  Yesterday when I watched a video on the topic  I removed 50% of my promotions and drastically reduced most of my % to below trending.  As a result my sales are slow to nothing so far this weekend and to my greatest surprise I looked at my listings that I can send best offers on and they plummeted from 40 - 60 on any given morning to 1 yes ONE.  A very odd result if you ask me as if a listing has interest who cares if it is promoted or not let's just sell the damn thing and make some money but apparently eBay cares a lot about which listings it will allow me to sell via sending best offers, why else would my best offers have reduced to that level.  Later in the morning it increased to 19 listing which I can send best offers to which is about half of what is normal and correlates to my deletion of my currently promoted listings.  I get a lot of sales from sending best offers but now my opportunities are half of what they were yesterday.   I try to go with the flow but I am losing faith in a big way right now.  If they want to make 15-20% on our sales why don't they just be upfront and ask?  They seem as scuzzy as they come in my eyes right now.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: unsuckEBAY
Web Site

Sat Sep 21 23:27:13 2019

''so far this weekend and to my greatest surprise I looked at my listings that I can send best offers on and they plummeted from 40 - 60 on any given morning to 1 yes ONE... I get a lot of sales from sending best offers but now my opportunities are half of what they were yesterday.''
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

@Mamak - Curious as to your thoughts (as a seller who uses both best offers AND promoted listings) around eBay's non-disclosure of any Promoted Listing ad fees when evaluating Best Offers from buyers?  

Does the lack of knowing if PL fees apply or not affect your offers extended or accepted?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Sat Sep 21 23:42:58 2019

I have Fire Fox as my browser and as I have stated many times before I use the Adblock plus generously on all of my sites that I might search and all adds and promoted listings when I am on eBay do not show up so any one who is using promoted listings will not be seen by me and I am sure that many other Fire Fox users do the same thing.
I know that Googles Chrome has the same capability with an App you can get. It is also available on Android for mobile users if there are any at all.

eBay = Dead Man Walking

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by: papergoy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 04:35:34 2019

To Mamak, COULD it be that they are finding the listings via promoted listings and then watching it? I only question this as I clear out my offers daily, and thus if I am at zero today, and people don't find my items to watch, I may only be up to one or two logically the next day.  
To Silver Ice King, I don't take them not saying they will fix it as anything- I'd rather them mull over the options and then come up with the right fix (which may take weeks) rather than saying they're going to fix it and rush out something that isn't particularly good.  (Of course all they have to do is go back to the old policy of having two listings show up if you promote- the promoted and non-promoted- problem solved).

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by: notfunanymore This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 08:18:37 2019

You’re on a sinking ship. I guess the question is how many of you will go down with the ship??? Everyone complains, but most stay.. the food at eBay used to be good... now they serve up meatless burgers and they keep telling you it’s beef!! Some of you know it’s not beef, but you keep eating the same garbage. Good luck digesting the crap they serve

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by: KLLR This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 10:47:28 2019

Harry Temkin as quoted in the article above is wrong. Adblock Plus (ABP, a popular and commonly-used free ad blocker) blocks sponsored ads in search results on eBay (Windows 10, using Chrome.)

I've used this ad blocking software for a long while now, and noticed some time ago I wasn't seeing sponsored ads on eBay. I took that into account when evaluating participation in Promoted Listings, since I believe a significant number of online shoppers may use ad blocking software.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sun Sep 22 11:17:46 2019

PAY to not be seen?

Am I reading this right?

My sales still aren't paying the bills :-(

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This user has validated their user name. by: unsuckEBAY
Web Site

Sun Sep 22 12:59:26 2019

''Currently, our data suggests that promoted listings are being blocked for less than 2% of traffic.'' - Harry Temkin

''Harry Temkin as quoted in the article above is wrong.'' - KLLR
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's important to carefully evaluate any specifics or data eBay and their execs publish. ''The Devin's in the details'' so to speak.

For example, Wenig and Co. often advocate that they, ''Don't compete with our sellers'' yet eBay injects tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions into China sellers to directly compete with US/UK/AU/EU eBay sellers, much like VC investors funding startups. 👉http://bit.ly/eBay_China3

Let's look at Harry's comment, ''promoted listings are being blocked for less than 2% of TRAFFIC''

2 percent of eBay's web *traffic*?

Given that eBay is image-media heavy with eBay's 500+ petabytes data footprint, that statement taken literally seems completely plausible.

The real question for eBay and Temkin to answer is what percentage of search result listings surfaced to buyers are blocked, and quit jerking sellers around with cleverly crafted non-answers.

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 14:43:39 2019

I’m confused. What exactly do you guys want eBay to do?

First you complain that they showed promoted listings and the same non promoted one on the same page. Now you complain when they say they are changing the policy and won’t show both. EBay should leave it as it is....if you don’t like seeing the same item twice then don’t buy it. It’s hardly an issue to cry about.

As for ad blockers, what is the point of having an ad blocker on that blocks legit listings? Stupid. You need a new ad blocker then. So basically your ad blocker blocks all the Amazon promoted listings, too? I mean, WTF is the point of that as a buyer?

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Sep 22 15:03:20 2019

@Flying Childers

I was having more success with the Google promotion and less cost. Now they've combined everything into 1, sales have taken a deep dive. Their own promotions weren't working, now they've just broken both.

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Sep 22 15:06:44 2019

@Mamak

I haven't changed anything and sales came to a dead stop this weekend. No viewers or very little to speak off. Even auctions totally ignored.

They probably tried to "FIX" something again.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 15:27:47 2019

I'm so worn out - it's just ridiculous -  

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This user has validated their user name. by: unsuckEBAY
Web Site

Sun Sep 22 15:27:58 2019

"I’m confused. What exactly do you guys want eBay to do?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

1/ eBay should *always* display organic search results 100% of the time (including whether they're promoted or not).

The original listing should never be suppressed from Best Match search display.

2/ For Promoted Listings, eBay should have implemented a minimum proximity spacer (from the organic, say 6-8) as we originally suggested back in March:

"Recommendation: Ensure a minimum spacing between a paid promoted listing and the original listing in search results."

👉 http://bit.ly/2NrhcQ4

Instead, eBay opted for this weird binary on/off display suppressing the organic listing result entirely when a promoted listing is surfaced. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That said, there are far bigger eBay sins (including eBay's ongoing suppression of promoted listings fees for Best Offers) than this.

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by: Mamak This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 15:41:42 2019

Unsuckebay asked @Mamak - Curious as to your thoughts (as a seller who uses both best offers AND promoted listings) around eBay's non-disclosure of any Promoted Listing ad fees when evaluating Best Offers from buyers?  

Does the lack of knowing if PL fees apply or not affect your offers extended or accepted?

I keep my prices high and have baked in a lot of the discounts  for markdowns best offers and promotions required to sell something on ebay and still stay above water.  If your promoting an items you need to consider that it is probably going to get charged but to be honest my sales are very consistently being charged for promoted at about 50% give or take a point or two.    So if you're promoting at 10% on the average then you just assume that promotions is going to cost you 5% on all of your sales and tack that on for that purpose knowing that can help with accepting offers or not.  If you are sending offers off of the page eBay provides you do have visibility to whether your item is promoted or not and of course most of them are.  Also when you get an email from eBay recommending you promote a listing it usually has tons of traffic and watchers so those are the ones you don't want to promote as they think we are stupid.    

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by: Mamak This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 22 16:03:05 2019

Papergoy asked -  COULD it be that they are finding the listings via promoted listings and then watching it? I only question this as I clear out my offers daily, and thus if I am at zero today, and people don't find my items to watch, I may only be up to one or two logically the next day.

I do not empty my eligible listings as some of them are already so cheap that I don't make an offer and I do not remove them from the list.  However, after making changes to my promoted listings the eligible best offer listings were reduced to 1, later they were at 16 then 19 and I sent a few offers out but not many.  I woke up this morning to only 5 eligible to send best offers today and all the others that I had not sent were no longer there.   Of the items I am allowed to send best offers 4 are promoted and one is not.  Right now I show 24 that I can send which changed minutes ago.  As a reference I have 405 items being watched of my almost 1500 the first 180 of them have multiple watchers.  I am very convinced the removal and /or reduction in promoted listings directly affected my eligibility list.  You would think they would use that tool as a way to get more sales but they are using it to get more sales on promoted listings.   I feel really violated by this as my sending best offers has been a very good way to drum up sales and build momentum on a slow day.  

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