eBay test “Hot” watched items in search

Spotted by , eBay are once again toying with watched items. This time they appear to be testing a “Hot” icon in search results and letting buyers know how many others have added an item to their watch list.

I’m a bit bemused, whilst eBay shut down eBay Pulse about a year ago, it was replaced by although not too many people know it’s there.

However the thing that really confuses me is why eBay thinks watched items are that important in a world where Buy It Now has largely usurped auctions. For an auction, knowing that a lot of people were watching an item might convince me I need to up my maximum bid but for a fixed price item I either want it or not.

Of course I may add an item to my watched items even if it is fixed price as I’m interested but not ready to buy, or I might add it to a wish list or other bookmark on eBay such as favourite searches. Each user ID can add up to 100 items to their watch list.

In reality however eBay Pulse was always full of spam, I often saw newly listed products which within a day had 50 or more watchers and popped back up every time they were relisted. I’ve long suspected that some buyers have a tranche of friendly eBay users that watch all of their items. We’ve not been told if watched items impact the current Best Match search, or if the new Cassini search engine will take notice of how many watchers an item has. What we do know is that some sellers are convinced that simply watching their own items increases their likelihood of appearing higher in search.

Do you spam watch your own items? Have you ever experimented or measured if you get more sales by watching your own items from a couple of alternative eBay User IDs or seen an increase in sales when buyers are watching your items? Are you secretly part of a watchers ring that routinely watch each other’s items?

We’d love to get some insights as from our point of view we don’t really care how many watchers there are on an item, we’ll either click the Buy It Now button or we won’t. However if the number of watchers increases position in Best Match so that we see your item in the first place perhaps we should all be adding spam watchers to our listings? Definitely eBay seem to think they matter, at least enough to experiment with highlighting items with large numbers of watchers.

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It reminded me of UK hot deals when I spotted this yesterday with the flame next to the number. I think it does make products stand out in search and makes you start to think if others are so interested perhaps I should be! Oddly enough it has disappeared for me this morning!

Stuart • 12th November 2013 •

So on the reasoning that it makes your product stand out in search... should you solicit a load of spam watchers for your items? Would this break any eBay policy such as search and browse manipulation and if so has anyone ever heard of eBay sanctioning a seller as a handful of IDs are watching all their items?

Chris Dawson • 12th November 2013 •

I like the idea. I guess its an indicator of potential interest, a signal which may spur a buyer on to make a decision aka "If loads of other people are interested, then so am I". Though unless your inventory is 100% really popular items, I guess it will work against you on some SKUs as it will increase conversions for your competition. Not that far removed from showing the number of bids when running auctions - in particular 1p auctions. They work because they attract bids early (due to the low price) which in turn attracts more bids and it snowballs from there, which ends up in higher revenue for both seller and eBay. The 1p auction item will never sell for a penny - so you could say that getting bids via 1p auctions (to drive a higher price) are the equivalent of getting fake (spam) watchers on a BIN to increase the conversion rate?

Mark • 12th November 2013 •

From my experience I have one pre owned item that has 30 watchers but has been sitting for 5 months without being sold. In this respect the amount of watchers is irrelevant as its still in my warehouse and not being used elsewhere.

paddy • 12th November 2013 •

Why don't ebay send out a message to existing watchers every time a new watcher appears? This might encourage a few more watchers to actually buy! And if a seller changes the price of an item or if fresh bids come in then again ebay should send out a message to all watchers. Motivating watchers to buy or bid is surely rather more important than motivating watchers to watch.

Gary • 12th November 2013 •

"And if a seller changes the price of an item or if fresh bids come in then again ebay should send out a message to all watchers." I though eBay did notify people if the price had changed on a watched item???

chris Page • 12th November 2013 •

Could this be confirmed please? I will be altering my BIN prices on a regular basis if this is fact. I receive emails if I am outbid on items I am bidding on. Never had a "watcher" email but then I don't watch that often as my view is it is pointless wasting time watching preferring to either bid or pass. I may be right or wrong on this watching thing but that is me. However if I can benefit marketing wise out of those who are watching me then I would seriously take advantage of that!

Gary • 12th November 2013 •

Sure - email me two item numbers and I'll add them to my watch list. Leave it 24 hours and then edit one price up and the other down. I'll report back :-)

Chris Dawson • 12th November 2013 •

I can confirm that ebay DO NOT notify watchers of BIN sale item price or stock changes up or down. Rather than tinkering at the edges why don't ebay implement this notification process? I can also confirm that the number of watchers are now clearly visible to all on my sale items. Now I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. A high number of watchers on BIN items might suggest to those newcomers viewing that the item is of interest but priced high. A high number of watchers on auction items might put those newcomers viewing off as they would believe that they have no chance of picking the item up so would not bother bidding. I have set the hit counter to invisible. This has worked for me over the years. Why don't ebay offer this option for the watcher counter? Are there any positives?

Gary • 13th November 2013 •

Interesting development. I increased the price of a BIN item I was watching and subsequently reduced the price back to its former level after an hour or so. Some 8 hours after reducing the price back to its former level I receive an ebay email advising me of a price reduction. I increased the price upwards of this item for just 1 hour. Now on the BIN item I reduced the price of there is nothing although I did raise the price back to its former level after 1 hour. It does appear that you can work the ebay system by increasing prices of BIN items briefly and then reducing them back to previous levels. ebay will send a message out to watchers around 8 hours later advising them that the price has been reduced even though it hasn't been!

Gary • 13th November 2013 •

A high watch count combined with low inventory might make me want to purchase in a hurry!

Multiace • 12th November 2013 •

I noticed this about 3 or 4 weeks ago, but only when using Google Chrome. Then it vanished. Just like many other eBay changes.

Richb • 12th November 2013 •