We’ve become aware of multiple tests being run on eBay Promoted Listings. Having been watching them for the past week, the format in which they are displayed has changed, as have some of the positions that they are displayed in.
One thing that we spotted in the middle of last week is that eBay Promoted Listings for multi-variation items sometimes seemed to be presented as much more attractive to buyers than the same listings appear in organic search results.
The differences are stark for a product I recently looked to purchase – a new bin – the first search result in Best Match was for an eBay Promoted Listing and the second search result in Best Match is actually the first organic search result and for the same product… but with some major differences.
The first search result – The paid eBay Promoted listing
- A single price £8.97 is displayed.
- Free postage is displayed
- 3,508+ sold is displayed
The second search result – The organic listing
- A price range £8.97 – £22.98 is displayed
- Product ratings are displayed
- Free postage is displayed but with the addition of Click & Collect messaging
- 457+ sold is displayed – considerably less than when you click through to the listing which then displays 3,508+ sold
It looks like there are differences based on single variations and the entire listing, but even then they’re not consistent between the promoted listing and organic listings – for instance the eBay promoted listing is displaying the price for the smallest 3 litre bin but number sold for the entire listing, while the organic listing displays the price range but (as far as I can tell) the number of sales for a 12 litre bin.
It would make more sense if the points were consistent for both organic and paid eBay Promoted Listings, instead they appear slightly misleading and in this instance make the paid eBay Promoted Listing appear more attractive than the organic search result even though the paid and the unpaid search results are for the exact same listing.
This isn’t a one off – we tested by searching for another bin using the full listing title. Again the paid for eBay Promoted listing looks more attractive as it’s 1st in search results and shows the lowest variation item price, whilst in this case the organic search result again showed the price range from cheapest to most expensive but displayed an image for the cheapest variation on offer.
One might be tempted to surmise that eBay are trying to make paid eBay Promoted Listings hyper-attractive to buyers and in theory there’s nothing wrong with this. The downside is that they may be appearing more attractive than organic listings for which additional fees aren’t being charged. The double downside is that the paid for eBay Promoted Listing in both these cases were gifted the first position in search results while the less attractive appearing organic listing were in the 2nd position in search results.
If one was to be kind to eBay, it may be fair to say that when sellers volunteer to pay additional fees for promoted listings, eBay appear to be trying to optimise them to be at their most attractive to buyers. It’s just unfortunate that these two sellers have had to pay for the top position in search results to prevent their competitors getting greater visibility when they are already top of organic eBay Best Match.
If one were to take a harsher view, one might say that eBay aren’t putting in the same optimisation effort for organic search results because if a buyer clicks the paid for eBay promoted listing then eBay gets more fees so that’s what they are focussing on.
Ongoing tests and optimisation for eBay Promoted Listings
Since we took the screen shots above, the way that eBay Promoted Listings are displayed has changed yet again and we’re no longer seeing a paid for listing in the top spot of search results and they are now displaying the full price range, however we are still seeing the higher sold counts on paid for eBay promoted listings which is a strong buying signal compared to the lower count on organic search results.
The most likely explanation is ongoing tests and, bearing in mind the importance eBay has placed on Promoted listings and their revenue stream, that the eBay Advertising team are constantly optimising the experience and testing to see what works best.
It may be that more attention is being given to the display of eBay Promoted Listings than is being focused on the presentation of organic search results. This would be bad for sellers as a paid for optimised Promoted Listing will cost them more in fees than the same listing in organic search results. Or there may be a totally different explanation that has thus far eluded us – if you have wisdom to share then we’re all ears.