Third party ads removed from eBay Oz after member complaints

No primary category set yesterday, Australian eBayers began to notice third party ads appearing on their auction listings. A graphic and text link advert for Foxtel digital television was shown directly underneath the “your maximum bid” box on listings in some media and collectables categories: Auctionbytes has a screen shot.

As we might expect, the Australian community boards began to fill up with threads from members incensed that this had been foisted on them unannounced. Several sellers expressed a concern that buyers would assume that this “first month plus installation free” television package was included with the item they were selling, and that they would be left with the customer issues and the negative feedback when buyers discovered it was nothing to do with them.

eBay Support had no information to offer. Members contacting Live Help were told that they had received many complaints and were waiting to hear back from the business unit. Then they were told that the ads were “part of a test being done by our product development department”. Other support staff said they were “the result of a known eBay site issue”. New advertising space, test or glitch? Your guess is as good as mine.

And so some canny eBayers began to complain, not to eBay, but to Foxtel:

Send your complaint to Foxtel. If eBay stick their head in the sand about this, Foxtel certainly won’t, especially if they get lots of negative publicity about their product.

wrote one poster on the Australian PowerSellers Board. And that worked. Members who had complained directly to Foxtel received this email from their Corporate Affairs Co-ordinator:

These ads were placed on eBay by a third party, and it was never FOXTEL’s understanding that they would be placed in this way. We have asked that they be removed immediately.

I’ve got to applaud all those Australian eBayers who made their voices heard on this issue. It’s another appalling example of eBay’s inability to communicate, not only with its members, but internally: anyone could have predicted that 3P ads on the view item page would have resulted in an outcry from sellers, and Support should have been primed with correct information about just what was going on. Better still, eBay Australia should have announced the new ads ahead of time, so that sellers could make an informed decision about whether they wanted to pay for an eBay listing carrying someone else’s promotional material.

We’ve already seen adverts on eBay UK view item pages: I’m sure this won’t be the last time this happens. eBay’s belief is that they own the view item page, and can put what they like on it: but for sellers, it’s the page we’ve paid for and it should be all ours. The way this issue is resolved is going to shape the future of eBay: will it remain a marketplace where individual sellers can shine, or become Amazon Lite where you barely notice who you’re buying from? We’ve won a battle, but the conflict is nowhere near over.

9 Responses

  1. I’ve seen negative feedback saying that the seller refused to accept the buyer’s PayPal coupon. Sellers definitely don’t need something that implies a third party service is coming from them.

  2. eBay Australia seems to be doing a good job lately of annoying (for want of a better word) its sellers. Do eBay have some sort of death wish on their site?

  3. nothing should be on the listing page other than what a seller chooses to be there,
    even some ebay links should be optional never mind
    3rd party links

  4. You see, everyone knew that complaining to eBay was pointless. They went to the advertiser, Foxtel, who, being run by competent people, understood the public relations backlash that could be generated. Foxtel arranged to have the ads pulled.

    Public relations is something that eBay just simply do not understand. They keep alienating their sellers, the very people who make the site exist (no sellers, no buyers, no traffic, DUH!).

    As I understand it, eBay Australia has been losing money for years. Anybody wonder why that might be?

  5. eBay communicate about ‘the buyer experience’ then cheapen and confuse the site with 3rd party ads – many of the ads are irrelevant to the search terms entered while those ads that promise special offers (e.g 20% off Sky) lure buyers away from the site altogether (then they forget what they wanted to purchase in the first place!).

    eBay appears only interested in the bottom line and only appears interested in the buyer / seller experience when it can demonstrate an immediate return on the bottom line.

    eBay preaches one thing and does the opposite. Links to 3rd party sites are banned in listings – unless you’re eBay.

    Usual non-existent communication, too. They could at least own up to not caring – they’d get more respect for a bit of honesty, rather than blabbing on about improving communication and ‘please trust us’. Pathetic.

  6. This is a following up a recent forum on Tamebay.

    If ebay sell the seller the space on their system, then the space is the sellers’ to do what they want (assumably within the ebay rules).
    Once the seller is the ‘owner’ of the space for whatever period (ie’ 5,7,10 days etc) NO further advertising should be allowed, unless the ebay asks the seller for consent.

    Another point, is that ebay themselves have said that NO 3rd party links can be included in listings by the seller, starting shortly (I think I am right here??), then how is it that ebay can put 3rd party links in the listings & the sellers cannot.

    Sound very much like ‘whats good for the goose is good for the gander’……and of course ‘Do what I say, not what I do’..

  7. When a seller pays to list an item for sale, the fee assessed should guarantee the seller exclusive use of the page.

    If eBay is selling advertising space on a sellers listing page, then the seller should receive a fair compensation for the use of the space they paid for by the third party.

    Sellers are prohibited from placing third party links on their listing pages. If aBay is going to impose these ads then the sellers that paid for the space through assesed fees should be entitled to participate in the profits.

    Ebay wonders why sales are down, then allows third party advertisements on their site which will only serve to poach potential eBay buyers and divert traffic.

    This company no longer has competent, intelligent leadership, but rather is being run by a bunch of fools.

    If eBay was a submarine, Captain Donahoe would be the guy ordering screen doors to replace hatch covers. As it is, the ship seems to be taking on water faster than it can bail itself out.

  8. Hi

    Im the Online Marketing manager at FOXTEL responsible for this

    – eBay approached our media agency with a Text link advertising proposition targeting relevant areas e.g. TV, home entertainment
    – We were not provided a screen grab of the location the ads were to be displayed at the time
    – With so many ad placements in market we wrongly assumed they would place our ads sensibly, being a reputable company we didn’t think they would place them in a way that would annoy their members
    – As soon as the complaint came in we looked at the placement in question and agreed it was intrusive to the sellers (who like us are online marketers)
    – We asked eBay to pull the ads immediately



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