eBay Promoted Listings Advanced Updates & Ad Attribution Changes

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


UPDATE: 9-17-21 Promoted Listings Advanced is now available - and it does include support for negative keywords, despite eBay staff in the weekly community chat answers to the contrary.

Get a first look and see how it works 👇

eBay Promoted Listings Advanced Cost Per Click - First Look
eBay Promoted Listings Advanced Beta is starting to roll out to the masses - here’s a first look!

And take a deeper dive into eBay's help/FAQ pages and reporting for Promoted Listings Advanced.

eBay Promoted Listings Advanced FAQ & Reports
A deeper look at eBay’s FAQ and help pages as well as reports for Promoted Listings Advanced

UPDATE: 9-15-21

In today's weekly chat with eBay community staff, they gave some additional information about Promoted Listings Advanced.

One seller asked for details about keywords, asking if it would be limited to one word or a phrase and if there would be an option to exclude keywords (negative keywords).

velvet@eBay answered:

It can be a combination of words to make the 'keyword', not exceeding ten words or 80 characters in the 'keyword'. There is not a way to exclude specific keywords though. Thanks!

When asked if eBay was going to consider negative keywords for the future, the answer was:

I haven't heard of anyone discussing the option to exclude keywords but I'll get this feedback passed on.

There was also a question about if there is any documentation or tutorial information sellers can access about Promoted Listings Advanced.

tyler@ebay said

Not at this point, but it will be ready by the time Promoted Listing Advanced is available for you to use.

We've been told that it will be an 'independent module' within Seller School (meaning you won't have to dive into subtopics - it should be very prominent) - so you can expect to see it update there within the coming weeks!

Another seller had concerns about using trademarked keywords:

In connection with "Promoted Listings expansion and rebrand"....

After the launch of Google Adwords approx 20 years ago... we wasted a considerable amount of money on a program that never really produced results for us. In addition, the lawsuits that were filed in connection with click-fraud left us with a loss of confidence as to whether the program would ever really work for an independent small business operating on eBay.

While we have some skepticism... we want to be open to evaluating the possibilities of a new and improved ad program. I read the update but didn't see a reference to how trademarked keywords are being addressed as eBay launches their version of a keyword program. Has the subject come up yet? Many eBay listings are focused around specific (authentic) brands that that shoppers may be trying to find. Just wondering if there is more information as to how the program might function in regard to trademarked keywords.

chelsea@update answered

Great question. Although I don't have any details on this yet but I will make sure that the community team gets an answer for you when we hear back.

9-12-21 : eBay has been talking about Promoted Listings Advanced Cost Per Click advertising for several months now. They're finally ready to start rolling it out to eligible sellers by the end of this month.

From the Fall 2021 Seller Update:

How Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA works
Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA is based on a cost-per-click model. You start by deciding how much each keyword and click is worth to you. Next, you bid to target placements at the top of eBay search results. Top placements show your listings to buyers right when they’re looking for your items across all experiences on eBay, including desktop, mobile, and the eBay app.

With this new type of campaign, you’ll be able to:

Bid for the top slot in search using keyword and budget controls, and pay per click.

Select the keywords that matter to you.

Set a daily budget for additional control.

To set up your first campaign, go to the Seller Hub Marketing tab. You can create a new campaign within the Advertising dashboard by following these simple steps:

  • Name your campaign.
  • Choose dates and a daily budget.
  • Name your Ad Group.
  • Add your listings and keywords to the Ad Group.
  • Select a maximum cost-per-click for the keywords, displayed as “CPC bids” in the tool.
  • Review your campaign after you complete these steps.

Top tips
Use features like suggested keywords and bids to help you set up effective campaigns.

Include high-quality listings in your campaign with complete and accurate item specifics and great photos for the best chance of gaining high visibility. In addition to your bid, factors including keyword relevancy, listing quality, competition, and daily budget determine whether your ad will appear in the number one position.

Use the daily budget feature to manage your ad spend.

You can also use both Promoted Listings Standard and Advanced together to help achieve maximum visibility for your ad placements across the eBay network, and utilize both budget approaches for your ad spend.

Coming later this month—Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA
Starting at the end of this month, Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA will be available to all eligible Promoted Listings sellers. If you’re eligible, you’ll be able to opt in to Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA to start bidding for the highly coveted top spot in the search results, as soon as it’s accessible.

When asked for details on how eligibility is determined, eBay community staff said:

Currently, listings are eligible for Promoted Listings Advanced when they meet our quality thresholds* and the following criteria:

  • Fixed price listings sold in the US or UK
  • Listings in all categories except Wholesale & Job Lots, Cars, Motorcycles & Vehicles, Events Tickets, Property, E-Cigarettes, Vapes & Accs and Everything Else categories.

*We take into account a variety of historical and projected performance factors, including average search rank, sales history, and more.

Stay tuned for eligibility expansion once Advanced campaigns launches on a wider scale!

Keyword Control

I have several questions about keyword control. First of all, what kind of keyword match type(s) does Promoted Listings Advanced use - broad match, phrase match, exact match, or something else?

eBay's announcement about Promoted Listings Advanced says:

Sellers can use our suggested keywords (search terms that we have determined to be relevant and likely to perform on eBay) or select their own. This keyword control gives sellers the ability to target their listings, reaching shoppers while they are actively searching for products the seller has listed (or ones just like them).

I  haven't been able to find any more in depth details directly from eBay on this, but eBay Ads partner Teikametrics gave some additional insight about Promoted Listings Advanced in a recent blog post.

The ads use keywords and operate on an exact match model with flexibility for variance. That means that shoppers who use common misspellings, abbreviations, synonyms, plurals, etc. will still be matched with your ad.

The second question I have about keyword control is, will eBay support negative keywords? Negative keywords allow you to designate specific words to exclude from ad placement and can be just as important as regular keywords in some situations, especially with broader match types.

Even if the match type is limited as described above, there isn't a lot of detail about exactly how much flexibility there is for variances. There could potentially be misspellings, abbreviations, synonyms, etc. that eBay may believe are relevant that sellers do not.

Sellers need to have full control to exclude those keywords if needed to optimize their advertising spend. I haven't seen anything about negative keywords mentioned anywhere so far, so if this isn't included in the beta version, hopefully they will be adding it soon.

What About Click Fraud & Reporting?

I've seen several sellers express concern about possible click fraud, but nothing from eBay about if this is even on their radar and/or what they plan to do to protect sellers.

Competitors can use manual methods or automated bots to click your ads, causing you to rack up a large bill or max out your daily budget quickly, knocking you out of the top spot. It's a huge problem with Google Ads and other pay per click scenarios and there's no reason to think it will be any different on eBay.

eBay can and must provide visibility and transparency to allow sellers to identify instances of click fraud as well as implement very strict policies backed up by very strict consequences for this type of abusive, malicious behavior.

Speaking of transparency and visibility, I was disappointed to see eBay is rolling this beta release out without even offering the bare minimum reporting capability sellers need to track the performance of these campaigns.

A seller asked what reports would be available and received this response from eBay community staff.

Yes there will be reporting and it will include "clicks" as a raw metric. Initially though, the report won't calculate the following metrics for you:

  • Avg. Cost Per Click (Total ad fees/Clicks)
  • Click Through Rate (Clicks/Impressions)
  • Conversion (Sales/Clicks)

Promoted Listings Advanced Cost Per Click was mentioned by CEO Jamie Iannone on the Q1 2021 earning call in April, then officially announced in June at the eBay Connect 2021 developer's conference and highlighted at eBay Open Online in August. Here it is September and in all that time eBay couldn't put together a report that calculates those basic metrics automatically?

Presumably sellers will need to manipulate the data themselves using a spreadsheet program to calculate those extremely important average CPC, click through rate, and conversion numbers.

That's a bit ridiculous for a multi-billion dollar tech company, especially one that is currently undertaking a "multi-year journey of tech led reimagination." Fully functional reporting needs to be a high priority addition before Promoted Listings Advanced is released to a wider audience.

Changes To Ad Attribution

One part of this section of the Fall Seller Update includes changes to eBay's ad attribution model that are extremely important for sellers who choose to use both Promoted Listings Advanced and Promoted Listings Standard.

The way your sales are attributed has switched from what's called "first-click attribution" to "last-click attribution" for both Promoted Listings Standard and Advanced. This means:

If you participate in both types of campaigns, a sale will be attributed only to the campaign that the listing was in when the last paid click occurred.

For example:
If your listing is clicked in a Promoted Listings Standard ad and then clicked and purchased through an Advanced ad, the sale will be attributed to the Advanced ad. This means you will only pay for the click on the Advanced ad.

If a buyer clicks on an Advanced ad, and then later purchases your item through a Standard ad, the sale will be attributed to the Standard ad, and you will pay the Standard ad fee. Please note: you will still be charged for every click on an Advanced ad.

If you only run a Standard campaign, you will be charged the ad rate that is in effect at the time of the buyer’s last click.

For example:
If a buyer clicks on your Promoted Listings Standard ad when the ad rate is 5%, then later clicks the ad again when you’ve changed the ad rate to 4%, and then makes a purchase within the 30-day attribution window, you will pay the 4% ad rate in effect at the time of that last click.

That highlighted part is important and led some sellers to seek clarification in this thread on the eBay community.  Unfortunately, Velvet@ebay gave two answers that at first glance seem to be conflicting.

The first response said:

If a listing is in both PL S and PLA, a single sale will only be attributed to one campaign type. That will be based on the campaign type the listing was participating in at the time it was last clicked.

In a follow up response Velvet@ebay gave additional detail that makes it clear while the sale will only be attributed to one campaign type, there are some situations where a seller may be charged both the Promoted Listings Advanced cost per click fee and the Promoted Listings Standard cost per sale elected ad rate fee.

(Note: eBay staff has apparently not completely adjusted to the rebrand of Promoted Listings to Promoted Listings Standard. I've added Standard in parenthesis below where relevant to try to avoid confusion.)

Hello! There have been some questions about how sellers will be charged for listings that are promoted via both Promoted Listing Standard and Promoted Listing Advanced, and I'm going to provide the below info that will hopefully help.

If your listing is clicked in an Advanced ad and is then purchased through a Standard ad, you will be charged for all CPC clicks plus the Promoted Listings Standard ad fee.

If your listing is clicked in a Standard ad and is then clicked and purchased through an Advanced ad, you will only be charged the Promoted Listings Advanced ad fee.

Sale attributed to Promoted Listing (Standard) campaign:

  • A listing for a wireless speaker participates in both campaign types. It has an average CPC of $0.25 in the Promoted Listings Advanced campaign and a 7% ad rate in the Promoted Listings (Standard) campaign.
  • The wireless speaker appears in the top slot in search via a Promoted Listings Advanced ad that is clicked once by a buyer.
  • The next day, the wireless speaker appears in a Promoted Listings (Standard) placement on a listing page, where the same buyer clicks the Promoted Listings (Standard) ad and buys the wireless speaker for $100.00.
  • Because the wireless speaker listing was participating in a Promoted Listings (Standard) campaign at the time when it was last clicked, it accrues a $7.00 ad fee via Promoted Listings (Standard) and $0.25 for the click it received in the Promoted Listings Advanced campaign.

    Sale attributed to Promoted Listings Advanced campaign:
  • A listing for a pair of basketball shoes participates in both campaign types. It has an average CPC of $0.50 in the Promoted Listings Advanced campaign and 5% ad rate in the Promoted Listings (Standard) campaign.
  • The pair of basketball shoes appears as a Promoted Listings (Standard) placement on a listing page, where a buyer clicks on the ad.
  • The next week, the basketball shoes appear in the top slot in search via an Advanced campaign. The same shopper clicks the ad and then purchases the basketball shoes.
  • Because the basketball shoes listing was participating in an Advanced campaign at the time that it was last clicked, it accrues a $0.50 ad fee via Promoted Listings Advanced and no fee via Promoted Listings (Standard).

There's no way to know how often that first example could occur, but it would also be entirely possible for a buyer to click on your Promoted Listings Advanced ad at the top of search, then get distracted by one of the many other ads eBay typically stuffs onto the listing page and navigate away, only to be shown the Promoted Listings Standard version of your listing as an ad on another listing further down the line.

In that scenario, if the buyer clicks through from that ad and buys your item, the sale will presumably be attributed to Promoted Listings Standard, but you would be charged both the Promoted Listings Standard ad rate and the Promoted Listings Advanced cost per click according to the example provided above.

eBay is advising sellers that they can and should test out both types of Promoted Listings campaigns and even use them in conjunction to optimize results.

We recommend, when possible, sellers use both campaign types to test and learn. Using them together provides maximum reach and maximum visibility. And because of the different fee models, sellers can manage risk — thanks to Promoted Listings Standard cost-per-sale model — with the predictability of a daily budget and control keyword targeting.

Given the possibility of paying multiple ad fees, I would caution sellers to be extremely careful with this one - make sure you completely understand the total possible costs involved when deciding on an advertising strategy.

I'll do a full rundown once it's available later this month but for now - share your thoughts about Promoted Listings Advanced Cost Per Click in the comments below!

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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!