eBay: Just another shopping comparison site

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Over the last few days eBay have been increasing the prominence of offsite adverts on the site. Not only have they started to advertise in the sidebar of My eBay and at the bottom of the sidebar in search results but they’ve stepped up off site adverts in the search results themselves.

Originally it was promised that off eBay adverts would only appear when there were few or no natural search results on eBay. I disagreed with this at the time as in many cases simply ticking the “Search title and description” box would find additional matching products. Very soon however off site adverts were appearing on all search results regardless of the number of matches found on eBay.

The offsite advertising box has now moved up above any eBay shop inventory items that search finds. Previously the adverts were appearing at the bottom of the page below any shop items that were presented to the buyer. Now they’re much more prominent having been moved above shop inventory format results.

Off eBay website adverts in search results

These website adverts which often include shopping.com adverts direct the user to a website other then eBay where they can browse for similar products.

Worse still are the new format adverts for specific products which now appear just below eBay search results. These adverts are formatted to look like products on eBay. They contain a gallery picture, title and possibly a subtitle, price, and the website offering the merchandise for sale.

Off eBay product adverts in search results

eBay shop owners are unlikely to appreciate the benefits of these new adverts. Having off eBay links above relevant shop inventory format results isn’t a particularly attractive proposition having paid eBay fees to have products listed on the site. Much worse though are the products listed just below shop inventory format listings, as they also display the price products can be obtained for off eBay, in some cases considerably lower than those offered on eBay

It’s long been known that many buyers visit eBay to research products and check prices prior to heading out to find the best deal (I have to admit I’ve done it myself!) eBay already own shopping comparison sites such as shopping.com and doorone and there are many others such as Kelkoo, Shopzilla and Pricegrabber. Anyone who watches TV can hardly have missed adverts for moneysupermarket.com billed as “The” shopping comparison site.

It appears eBay are turning the main eBay site into yet another shopping comparison destination to cater to those who already use the site for these purposes. If you know a certain number of buyers have no intention of buying on eBay why wouldn’t you sell sponsored links and gain a little revenue as they click off your site?

What it does for eBay sellers is leave them wondering just why would someone buy from your eBay shop, when they’re presented with an alternative website from which they can buy an identical product at a lower price?

7 Responses

  1. This is a very short sighted policy.

    Why would Ebay be so keen to direct revenue off site?

    This is so obviously bad, that this idea I suspect came from “High” up.

    It smacks of a complete lack of understanding of a basic Ebay principle, keep traffic ON Ebay at all costs.

    Just when you think they are starting to get things right.

    Short term revenue gains is not the same as building and maintaining a viable marketplace.

    This is terrible…

  2. I really am wondering what the point of listing on eBay *is* if they are going to do this as a permanent thing. For my monthly eBay spend I could get a lot of Adwords. 🙁

  3. Sue, you are correct. Just open a Google Adwords account and advertise on eBay for your website. Compare the two (Listing vs. Adwords) and I think you will find Adwords wins.

    List only “eBay” type product on eBay and drive eBay customers to your website through Adwords. I think this is the direction they are headed.

    Mant sellers are already doing that with Yahoo ads in the US

  4. It seems that if ebay search doesn’t find 10 items it inserts adverts above Shop Inventory Items when there is a direct match to outside ads. When there isn’t a keyword match it sticks the adverts below shop items.
    Although having tried it it isn’t completely consistent and does throw up lots of random items that are not connected to the original search – this is surely not what ebay said they would use paid external ads for!
    One possible plus side – especially for us CD sellers is that it may get rid of those pesky American sellers who list hundreds of thousands of items in Shops with low sales prices and massive shipping costs.
    Just found one who has over 40,000 items listed on ebay.co.uk and sales of only 1,000 items a month according to e-seller street. About time they packed it in and looked at their sums!!

  5. Des, It may well get rid of those “pesky American sellers” but it’s being replaced by adverts for HMV, Play.com Tesco’s, etc. At least one of those three show in almost every search that contains the keyword “CD”

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. eBay is becoming very poor value for money.

  6. Still the guys at eBay are starting to use the same selling approach in other markets. CI Report for October 2007 brought this pearl:

    Mr. Frank Bachér (Managing Director of Ebay Advertising Group, subsidiary of Ebay Advertising International AG.) Has stated that ebay won’t allow internet traders to advertise on Ebay.de/Mobile.de : “we don’t wnat to create competition for our own power sellers”.

    I wonder for how long they will suppot the “market preassure”….


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