eBay’s New Approach to Marketing: Throw the Kitchen Sink at the Buyers

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , , , |

Yesterday, eBay posted an announcement which gave sellers who actually read the boards daily less than a 24 hour notice of a new change to the site.  Begininng today eBay is going to advertise eBay competitors’ items on current seller’s listings.  According to the announcement, eBay says to sellers  “This is a great opportunity to boost exposure for your listings to the most interested buyers during the busy holiday season.”  So, I put eBay’s claim to the test.

As a buyer, if I’m looking for a new item on fixed price so that I can purchase it instantly for a gift I would think eBay would market other new fixed price items to me.  Nope.  Not a chance.  Either due to incompetence or due to sheer desperation, eBay is using the “kitchen sink marketing” approach.  In just 4 different searches I found the following:

* I viewed a new item but was shown other items that were “related” which were in fact not new (the items were used and stated so in the item specifics as well as the description)

* I viewed an item that shipped from the U.S. but was shown items that shipped from outside the U.S. (with higher shipping costs and longer transit times of course)

* I viewed a fixed price item and was shown auction style items.  Of course, I didn’t know the items were auction style until I actually clicked on the picture so by then I was frustrated at not being shown an item I could instantly purchase.  The picture and the price were visible and I could imagine a buyer ready to purchase the item shown at that price only to find out the item was up for bid and wouldn’t end for a week.

* I specifically narrowed my search in the beginning to see only items offered by Top Rated sellers.  I clicked on an item description and at the bottom of the page eBay was marketing to me other items that were offered by sellers who were not Top Rated.  So, using the search criteria to find a specific type of item (by Top Rated seller, by location, by price, etc) only ensures that the first item I click will meet that criteria.  Afterward, it’s all fair in ecommerce wars as eBay will throw everything possible at me to tempt me to buy.  Problem is that I’m not interested in what they are throwing at me.

* I was shown items offered by sellers who are low-performing.  For example, one item was offered from a seller who has 97.3% feedback with DSRs as low as 4.2

* One time I was even shown an item completely unrelated to the item I was viewing.  The item had obviously been listed in the wrong category and so when eBay was pulling random items to offer to me they just pulled this item out of that category without considering the item specifics or title.

eBay sellers who decide to opt out of the seller merchandising promotion will not have other seller’s items appear at the bottom of their listings but, at the same time, will also not have listings promoted on other sellers’ items.

So what is the bottom line for me personally as an eBay seller?  I am definitely opting out of this little experiment.  It’s bad enough that eBay isn’t bringing in outside traffic but now I do my part to bring buyers on the eBay site to my particular listings and eBay does their best to drive these potential buyers to other listings that don’t live up to eBay’s claim of helping the buyer find the item they are most interested in.   As a result, I know that any of my listings that might appear on competitors’ listings won’t bring me the buyers who will likely purchase my item.  So, in essence, I’m not giving up anything by opting out of this new marketing scheme. 

I almost opted out yesterday when I read the announcement but I decided to wait until today to see how the cross-merchandising was actually going to work to see if I could take advantage of the opportunity to increase my sales.  While it’s possible I might see an increase in traffic, the potential buyers coming to my listings from other sellers’ listings are less likely to actually be interested in buying my items.  So, then, all that traffic does for me is to increase the impressions on my fixed price items which then lowers the item in Best Match search so that other potential buyers who really are interested in my items won’t be able to find them.  Anyway you look at it, this new seller merchandising program offered by eBay is a “promotion” that I want no part of.   I’m out.

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11 Responses to “eBay’s New Approach to Marketing: Throw the Kitchen Sink at the Buyers”

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I’ve come to the same conclusion as you.

Being given all of one days notice and having this thrown out there the week before Xmas peak shopping season is really a new low for them. So much for the promise of 60 days notice/etc….

The new changes appear to be coming out every 10 days (November 6th and 16th). Perhaps not a coincidence. If eBay stays at that pace, the next scheduled change would be November 26th.

The day before Black Friday.

“Oh, don’t worry; I always leave things till the last moment.”
The Doctor, Doctor Who

The “Most Watched” item list still displays below ALL listings, even if the seller has opted-out of cross-promotions.

To see this you should clear cache, cookies and not login to ebay. They DO know who you are and they determine what you can see.

The test for this latest change had been ongoing for about 10 days. If you didn’t login to ebay and just browsed, every listing showed the Most Watched and the Related items at the bottom.

It’s been a while since I sold on eBay, but I remember you could opt out of the cross-promotion on your closed listings. Is there a separate opt out for active listings? And has anyone tested to see if it actually works?

Jaxo, yes that is what I opted out of today — the cross promotions for my active listings. On the eBay announcements page are instructions on how to opt out.

Nice experiment on this one Brews. I could deal with this change, if eBay wanted to slash the price of insertion dramatically.

We’ve trained our eyes to ignore google ads and banners around the web. Ebay shoppers will train themselves to ignore these recommendations as well. Problem is, by that time Christmas will have already ended.

The Best Match algorithm appears to have infiltrated the very brains of ebay management. This is lever-pulling at its finest.

Ebay seem bent on outdoing themselves and their ‘Brutally Honest Dishonesty’ seller announcement policy. At this point it’s pretty clear that Announcements aren’t User Agreements, and in no way binding.

It seems to me they are coming right out and saying We Cannot Be Trusted, with the same certainty as if they were saying Cement Has Rocks In It.

The only question left is whether or not they do this to the juggernaut’s listings, as well.

I’m reminded of the zombie movies where the nice guy gets infected, and warns the would-be victims to get away, get away, but finally the compulsion takes over and he takes to eating them.

As with here, the most loyal are eaten first.

Apparently a complete opt-out is not an option anymore.

eBay Seller Unable to Opt-out of Cross Merchandising

And as we commented:

eBay Cross Merchandising at work.

More proof ebay is INSANE!


”I’m never surprised when the gods of advertising remind me once again that there is nothing permanent in the business but change.”
Mal MacDougall
Who coined the phrase, ”Come to think of it, I’ll have a Heineken.”

Ebay is getting just too greedy, instead
of supporting their participants and so
called Team…..
They are No longer loyal to members.
Income from ads for pay per clicks on same
page as THERE loyal customers.
Really is just being greedy…

Most definitely,

[…] The following day I tested what eBay was doing with this new promotion and in my blog post titled “eBay’s New Approach to Marketing: Throw the Kitchen Sink at Buyers” I reported on what I found (that buyers were shown related items that were in fact NOT related […]

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