EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1542 - May 21, 2007     2 of 4

eBay to Serve Targeted Ads Based on Users' Information

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eBay revised its privacy policy and told users that, beginning in July, it would begin serving up targeted advertisements based on eBay's information about users. Users will be able to set their preferences in My eBay with a feature called AdChoice that, according to the company, "lets you tell us whether you want us to use the information we have about you to customize the ads you see."

Calling itself a transparent community, eBay said it would identify the new ads served with the program. While eBay did not identify the companies it would be working with to serve the ads, Yahoo is the exclusive provider of all graphical advertisements throughout the eBay.com site and provides sponsored search results on eBay.com search results pages, while Google is the exclusive text-based advertising service for eBay outside the United States.

The appendix to eBay's Privacy Policy outlines the information it collects about users and with whom it may share that data (http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/privacy-appendix.html). Such information includes the following:

  • Contact information (including household income, age range, gender and education);
  • Financial information (including social security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers and bank account numbers);
  • Transaction information (including feedback, bidding history and prices paid for items as well as chat rooms and bulletin boards);
  • Computer-generated data (such as IP address, cookie, and URLs of last website and next website).

eBay said users not wishing to accept the new User Agreement or Privacy Policy should refer to Help pages for instructions on how to close their accounts.

eBay said other changes to the Privacy Policy are designed to help it combat fraud ("we're making sure our disclosures about cooperating with law enforcement allow us to respond to increasingly sophisticated fraudsters and criminals") and will streamline services ("we've made some changes that will allow our Customer Support team to help you with questions that span our companies").

eBay also said some of its new programs mean eBay services and content will be seen in other places, not just on the eBay site, which also prompted some changes to the privacy policy. One new program is eBay's To Go widget that allows anyone to display eBay listings on their blogs or websites.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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