The eBay monthly limited topic chat is continuing to prove unpopular with community members who have basically abandoned the event at this point out of frustration from the lack of any actual answers or helpful dialogue with eBay teams.
In fact - I was the only one asking questions during the entire hour long chat windows yesterday about Promoted Listings. 🤯
Unfortunately, most of my questions were met with the expected vague non-answers and some were just ignored completely.
For example, when I asked this question about keyword spamming causing irrelevant search results to surface at the top:
Promoted Listings Advanced seems to be creating a lot of situations where the top results are not relevant, possibly due to keyword spamming.
It's especially frustrating when you search for a specific brand only to be shown competing brands (that presumably you aren't interested in or else you would have searched for them.)
It's a poor buyer experience and I would assume the brands are probably not happy about it either.
What is eBay doing to combat keyword spamming/hijacking that forces irrelevant results to the top?
The eBay ads team answered:
Hi @valueaddedresource thanks for your question. A number of factors come into play when determining where a seller's listing will surface in the search results. They include:
- Buyer traffic or demand for a certain item
- Changes to the competitive landscape (e.g., other sellers start or stop promoting items in the same category and/or make significant changes to their CPC bids)
- General platform improvements, quality thresholds, and routine testing
The one helpful answer they did provide may have inadvertently provided some insight into what eBay could be planning to do with ads in search in the near future.
I asked about the over 100 competitor ads that eBay is now stuffing on every listing page and how some of them are counted for impressions:
I’ve been seeing increasing use of scrolling ad carousels on listing pages and have a question about how these impressions are counted. In this example photo, there were over 100 total ad slots including carousels, about 60 immediately viewable without scrolling right in the carousels.
Seller Hub defines impressions as “The number of times your promoted listings have appeared on any eBay site.”
If my listing was in slot #79 would there still be a Promoted Listings impression counted in reports even if the buyer never actually scrolled right to bring it into view on their screen?
Similarly in search, if the promoted version of my listing appears on page 2 for a given search, but the buyer never navigates to page 2, would that still be counted as a Promoted Listing impression since it technically appeared “on any eBay site” as part of that search?
The ads team answered:
@valueaddedresource Thank you for your questions. Yes, in the first example that would be counted as an impression. Anytime a listing is populated into an ad carousel it would be considered an impression. To answer the second part of your question, listings appearing are only counted as an impression if the buyer navigates to the second page. We hope this helps.
That confirms a suspicion I've had for a while about the ad carousels on the listing pages and explains why many sellers have seen an increase in reported Promoted Listings impressions that have not lead to an increase in clicks or sales - eBay is packing more ads into listing pages with the carousels but many buyers may not bother to scroll through to see every ad, so even though it's counted as an impression, it may not have ever actually been "in view" for the buyer to click through and possibly purchase.
Some people will say none of that matters, because you only pay the Promoted Listing Standard fee if and when you make a sale within 30 days of a click on the ad, but I'm not so sure that should be the only concern.
Where can this get tricky for sellers? We don't know exactly to what extent click through rates factor into eBay's algorithms at any given time, but many long time sellers believe it's a major ranking factor, which makes sense - higher click through rates (CTR) would seem to indicate buyers are interested in your item, lower ones might indicate your item is not attractive to them.
CTR is defined by eBay as:
The number of page views to your listings from eBay during this time period divided by the number of impressions. This excludes external page views.
For example, if your listing gets 1,000 impressions and 5 page views from eBay, your click-through rate is 0.5%. So just as a matter of basic math, if your impressions increase, but page views don't, that is going to lower your CTR.
What impact that may have long term is unknown and honestly probably changes constantly, as we know eBay tweaks the algorithms and may even have different ones running in different categories at any given time.
However, it's at least possible if a seller has lower CTR overall, over time that could tend to make the organic version of your listings rank worse in search as eBay may see that as an indication buyers are not interested in your items.
That could potentially create a vicious cycle where you would need to continue to promote just to maintain any real visibility at all, but the very act of promoting could hurt your organic ranking long term.
It's interesting that the way ads in search are currently displayed it only counts as an impression if the buyer actually navigates to the page on which the promoted version of your listing is shown - but I suspect that may be changing soon.
I had also asked for more details about search placement changes Pravesh Katyal, Director of Product, Search Ads had mentioned in his eBay Open presentation, but the ads team was unable to answer.
Most importantly, Pravesh had said:
Soon you will see clearly demarcated ad placements such as the top of search ad placement, middle of search ad placements as well as bottom of search ad placements. Each of these ad placements will have a number of ad slots. Ads will be shown in a continuous and clearly demarcated manner...and it gives an ability for sellers and advertisers to target specific ad placements.
My surmise is that eBay may be considering inserting scrolling ad carousels at the top, middle, and bottom of each search page - similar to this module that they currently use to show items with Authenticity Guaranteed if you search for a specific shoe.
If they do move forward with this with type of display for Promoted Listings ads, based on what the ads team said about how impressions are counted for ads in carousels on listing pages, that will increase the number of ads shown on every page of search and thus will likely increase impressions as well - but again, may not lead to significant increases in clicks or sales.
I'll be keeping a close eye out to see if/when this happens and the impact it may have on search results and Promoted Listings performance over all.
Overall, this month's chat was a bust and I have to wonder if the community team may do away with chat all together after the first of the year, given the lack of seller participation - which of course is what many long time community members predicted would happen when they changed from a weekly open chat to a monthly limited topic chat.
Maybe that was the plan all along? 🤨
eBay community staff have announced the topic for this months chat session - the eBay Ads team will be in attendance to answer all your questions about Promoted Listings!
Hi Everyone! This month's chat you’ll have an opportunity to talk with the eBay Ads Team. The theme of the chat is, ‘Promoted Listings (sponsored items), which is an advertising solutions that is offered within eBay Ads’. Come join the chat on November 9th at 1 PM PST!
If you can't make it to the chat real time, leave your questions in the comments below and I'll see what I can do to get some answers. 😉