eBay Updates Marketing Terms, Ads For Stores Coming Soon?

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


UPDATE 5-4-22

eBay community staff have confirmed the terms regarding eBay being able to alter your listings is specific only to managed ad services and that you must specifically provide eBay permission to do so when opting into those services - no account will ever be opted in by default.

Re: You lose all control over your Promoted Listings to Ebay in June, but retain full responsibility
Hi everyone! I received this from the Promoted Listings team to share with you all: We understand there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the recently announced updates to our Marketing Program Terms. We appreciate the feedback and want to take this time to clarify. Some sellers have exp…

Hi everyone! I received this from the Promoted Listings team to share with you all:

We understand there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the recently announced updates to our Marketing Program Terms. We appreciate the feedback and want to take this time to clarify.

Some sellers have expressed concerns about provisions relating to a Promoted Listings account optimization program we introduced last year. Specifically, those terms are intended to help us manage sellers’ Promoted Listings accounts, but only when a seller has asked us to do so.

Currently, we only offer the service through our account managers, and no seller has been or will ever be opted in by default.

In answer to follow up questions, Velvet at eBay also said:

The managed services referenced in the prepared remarks are related to Promoted Listings and the account optimization program. If a seller has not been contacted by the management team to opt into the optimization program then they will remain in full control of their campaign.

I'm glad that helped. As for the "optimization program" question, I’ve confirmed with the Ads team that there is currently no official 'optimization program' in place and the use of the opt-in service has been extremely limited.

The team is open to suggestions on the type of optimization program that would add value for sellers though. Today, we have a team of GCX specialists Customer Support who are able to advise, while the sellers maintains 100% control over changes.

That confirms eBay is already offering a consulting service to optimize ads at this time, but it appears to be limited to larger accounts who must opt in directly through their account manager.

The wording of the marketing terms update and the "openness" to feedback about an optimization service definitely sound to me like the idea of some kind of "managed ads as service" offering is at least on the radar as eBay continues to find new and different ways to increase ad based revenue streams.

UPDATE 5-1-22

I'm seeing a lot of concern in the community and across social media about this update, but I just don't think there's a reason to panic yet.

To those who may think this gives eBay complete control over everything, I'd suggest taking a deep breath and reading it again, especially the part about Marketing Services that seems to be causing so much concern.

The first paragraph says eBay may make available certain features or services "through which we may help you optimize your participation in the Marketing Services" then goes on to describe and give examples of what some of those might be.

The second paragraph says (emphasis mine) "If you elect to use those features or services (by informing us in writing or opting in via the Marketing Services), you agree that we may manage your campaigns and take such actions on your behalf without your prior consent."

That if is hugely important as is the specific application to "those features or services."

Literally all this says is eBay may offer certain services/features which include the ability for eBay to make adjustments on your behalf and if you choose to use those specific services, eBay will do just that.

That could be referring to existing automated campaign options which allow eBay to adjust ad rates or add or remove listings to the campaign within certain parameters, or it could be in preparation for launching full scale "ad management as a service" like I described below.

In no way does that part of the update say that eBay can change absolutely anything about any of your ad campaigns at any time with no consent - no matter what you may have heard on YouTube.

As for concerns about the Content section, particularly language around 3rd parties and brands, much of that hasn't changed significantly in years which can be seen by checking out past versions in the Internet Archive. If it wasn't cause for panic in 2019 or hasn't negatively impacted your account since then - odds are it's not a cause for panic now.

eBay released an update to their Marketing Terms page yesterday with a reminder about the changes to ad fee calculations that were announced in the Winter Update and a possible look into what's coming next for eBay Ads.

First - the update on how ad fees are calculated that will take effect June 1st.

eBay Winter Update - Promoted Listings
Big changes to Promoted Listings Standard fee calculation plus added reports & features for PL Advanced & Express.

Change to Promoted Listings Standard ad fee calculation methodology
On June 1, 2022, the Promoted Listings Standard ad fee calculation will change to align more closely with how we calculate final value fees.

Specifically, the ad fee will be calculated in all markets based on the total amount of the sale for each attributed sale, using the same basis we use to calculate final value fees (including applicable taxes, shipping and other applicable fees.)

As one Twitter follower pointed out - this makes it impossible to know up front exactly how much you will pay in ad fees, since you can't possibly know where the eventual buyer will be located (leaving a wide variety of variation in both shipping and sales tax).

Now on to the Marketing Program Terms.

eBay Marketing Program Terms | eBay.com
These Marketing Program Terms (the “Marketing Program Terms”) describe the terms pursuant to which eBay offers you access to our marketing services, which help you promote your products on and off eBay, and all related services, applications and tools (collectively, the “Marketing Services”).

There's a lot of legalese here, so I'll save you the boring tedium of just copying and pasting the whole thing, but I do highly recommend reviewing the complete terms before using any of eBay's advertising options.

Here are a few things that popped out to me as particularly interesting:

Managed Marketing Services

We may make available certain features or services through which we may help you optimize your participation in the Marketing Services, for example, by creating or modifying campaigns, setting or modifying ad rates and/or budgets, and adding or removing keywords or other targeting parameters.

If you elect to use those features or services (by informing us in writing or opting in via the Marketing Services), you agree that we may manage your campaigns and take such actions on your behalf without your prior consent, as may be further described by us in writing or in the Marketing Services.

This sounds like eBay is setting the stage for managed marketing services, where you would potentially have eBay set up and optimize ad campaigns for you. If so, it will be interesting to see if/how they may choose to monetize that type of service or if they simply offer it "free" on the theory it will increase ad revenue.

eBay has not hidden the fact that ads are a huge part of their growth plans and they believe they've barely scratched the surface on the potential revenue to be made from ads (they say as much in pretty much every earnings call).

Phase one was introducing different types/models of advertising but once they've created all these different ad products, they'll need to find new and different ways to get more people to use them at greater rates.

It's likely many of the biggest spending early adopters of the CPC model are/were larger sellers who either run large multi-channel ecommerce businesses and already have marketing staff well versed in CPC advertising on Amazon, Google, etc. or they are working with 3rd party partners like Channel Advisor or Codisto.

CPC is a huge thing to wrap your head around and do successfully as far as optimizing, budgeting, etc. - for other channels, there's a already huge industry already around teaching people how to do it or doing it for them...for a fee. It's big business and I fully believe eBay has to know that.

If I were in Alex Kazim's shoes and wrestling with how to get more people on board the ad rev train...one obvious answer to shoot some fish in the barrel is to tap into the larger market of people who may want to use ad products but don't have in house marketing staff, don't know how to do it themselves and/or would rather pay an expert to do it for them.

It could be eBay Ads experts or maybe they'll work out a deal with 3rd party partners or maybe something else entirely - this is all conjecture on my part, but I would be very surprised if eBay isn't at least thinking about how to monetize ad products even further by offering "ad management as a service" in some form.

Account Security Responsibility

You must ensure that your account credentials are kept secure at all times and not provide access to anyone not authorized by you to take action on your behalf.

You are solely responsible for all activities associated with your Marketing Services account, including all changes made to your campaigns, regardless of whether such activities are authorized or undertaken by you, unless we determine in our sole discretion that certain activity on your account is the result of a security breach of our systems to which you have not contributed.

It is your responsibility to monitor your account and to ensure that your campaigns are consistent with your business objectives.

This is similar to the language that was added to the User Agreement in February warning sellers not to share their credentials with anyone (emphasis above mine).

eBay User Agreement Update 2-9-22 Comparison
Exclusive comparison of the important changes in eBay’s February 2022 User Agreement update.

Given the amount of hijacked account fraud I've seen on the platform, not sharing your credentials is a good security protocol. However, just like in the UA update, I have to wonder if this may be eBay's way of wiggling out of responsibility for hijacked accounts.

If someone takes over your account, lists a bunch of $2,000 trading cards and Rolex watches and uses any of the available ad options to make a quick sale, it would be easy enough for them to say "we don't know how your account was compromised - maybe it was someone you shared your password with or your computer has malware."

Grimsby businessman facing ruin after eBay account ‘hacked’
Phil Green has had to lay off staff and more could suffer after £14,000 hacking scam on his Nunsthorpe business

Subscription Based Marketing Services

Certain of the Marketing Services may be offered on a subscription basis with auto-renewing payments (“Subscription Services”). The billing period and pricing for each type of Subscription Service will be as specified via the Marketing Services at the time of registration.

You expressly acknowledge and agree that (1) we are authorized to charge you on a recurring basis for the Subscription Services (in addition to any applicable taxes and other charges) at the then-current rates as long as the Subscription Services continue, and (2) the Subscription Services will continue until you cancel (as specified in the Marketing Services) or we suspend or stop providing access in accordance with these Marketing Program Terms.

There are no refunds or credits for partially used Subscription Services periods.

This one was a bit confusing at first glance since there are currently no ad options that are subscription based (that I'm aware of) - most ad campaigns simply run for the time you select when you set them up, or you can pause or end them early.

My guess is this is laying groundwork for the advertising option to promote Stores that VP of Ads Alex Kazim briefly mentioned at Investor Day would be coming "in the second half of the year."

eBay Investor Day 2022 - Commentary
eBay Investor Day 2022 commentary from an experienced seller perspective.

Since stores are a subscription based service with store fees charged on a monthly basis, it would make sense for the ad option to be based around that subscription as well - or at least that the terms of whatever that ad option ends up being would begin and end with the timing of your store subscription.

Unfortunately Kazim gave no further details about ads for stores, so we'll just have to wait for the "good news sellers" announcement - stay tuned!

eBayAdsFees & Payments

Liz Morton Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!