Ask Dan : eBay or Adwords?

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Question from Sue: Given that eBay are now displaying third party ads above shop results and “next page” links in search results, what percentage of my eBay budget should I be switching into Adwords?

Dan says: Of all the changes we’ve seen on eBay in the past few years, it’s fair to say that the increased display of third party ads in Search and Browse results (I’m less concerned about the ones in My eBay) is one of the most interesting and potentially damaging to eBay sellers. That said, to answer the question, I’d say, for the time being, none.

We really don’t know what the impact of the display ads in eBay search results is yet. And whilst, of course, Shops items are relegated it’s still true that ‘core’ BINs and Auctions get top billing so this is where I’d be concentrating time and energy. Are your non-Shop listings working hard enough? In many cases it’s a case of ‘back to basics’: are you listing enough ‘signpost’ listings that drag traffic to your Shop, are your Item Title keywords ship-shape and Bristol fashion, have you got your items spread out over the week to get maximum exposure?

On the general issue of these Ads, two things strike me. I really, genuinely think that buyers are clever enough to see through the tactic and give more attention to eBay items. That’s why they came to eBay, after all: to buy from eBay sellers. Equally, some of the ads I have seen have been very poorly targeted and matched to searches. Secondly, eBay might like the extra revenue from the ads but they won’t want to cannibalise their core market and revenue stream: I imagine they’re testing the waters to see how far they can go. It would be foolish to plan around any changes that haven’t been finalised.

To finish, running headlong toward an Adwords campaign isn’t something that you should take lightly. It can be complex process and you’ll need to spend time understanding how Adwords works, what works best for you and then spend time optimising your campaign. As with eBay, a bit of research and preparation time is essential to get it right so get tooled up with the info before you get your wallet out and hand it to Mr Google.

If you have a question for author, ex-Community Manager and general eBay guru Dan Wilson, please post it on our forum thread.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for that Dan, I have to say that I was less concerned with the 3rd party ads than others were, mainly because since I have been selling in earnest on ebay, I have had nothing but growth anyway and the 3rd party ads were already there. As I started in earnest at the end of Oct, my growth is as much down to seasonality as anything esle. I don’t know how I would feel if I had seen a reduction in income as a result of these changes (like the other guys)

    Thanks again for your useful comments, I’m looking forward to getting your book, I ordered it over the weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ direct from the author ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I noticed myself how irrelevant the third party ads were, which puzzled me – he same keyword searches in Google and on eBay were producing totally different results. I contacted Google, who insisted that eBay UK’s sponsored links were not, in fact, Google Ads, but as my Google Ad occasionally appears, they most definitely are.

    I had a good look at the code on the search page, and it’s different to a normal Google Ad call, in that, not only does it pass the search term to an outside routine, but also the category and a set of numbers, so in some way, eBay are controlling the ads that appear, but they’re not doing it well.

    As time goes on, they may well refine the ad routines, and cause the sponsored links to become more relevant, which may then start to pull buyers away from eBay. I know from my own stats and statements made by other sellers that this is already happening to some extent.

    I’m not sure what eBay’s motive is in displaying the links – they may well be producing a ‘revenue stream’, but so are sellers – and the two are not compatible. If one suceeds, the other fails, and if sellers fail, eBay will shrink, and then so will the revenue from sponsored links.

    It seems quite a dangerous policy, and if revenues are falling, the long term view should be to re-grow the eBay core, not grab at short-term gain from an ultimately damaging action.

  3. Erm its not an adword campaihn you want its a featured seller on (the ebay owned comparison site) that gets the juicy listings on ebay.

    My last dialogue with (relating to a raft of extra clicks against no extra sales) led me to believe the number of complaints from users may lead to the end of the adverts on ebay.

    Our costs went up over ร‚ยฃ50 a day for no obvious extra sales.


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