Another controversial change included in eBay’s Spring 2021 Seller Update is the retirement of the Promoted Listings quarterly credit.
Starting April 1, 2021, we’ll retire our existing Promoted Listings promotional credits. To date, we’ve offered a quarterly $25 Promoted Listings credit for Anchor and Enterprise Sellers and a quarterly $30 Promoted Listings credit for eBay Top Rated Sellers. We offered these promotional credits when we introduced Promoted Listings to allow sellers to try out the new program. Over the years, the program has grown and provided increased visibility for millions of eBay sellers. We’ll continue to offer the promotional credits through March 31, 2021, and we encourage you to take advantage of them.
The writing has been on the wall since eBay “accidentally” included this on a slide in the Fall Seller Update September 2020. It was later removed and when sellers pressed for clarification, we were told it was included by mistake and could be disregarded.
Concerns were raised again in October 2020 when Scott Kelliher, eBay’s Head of North American Advertising, was interviewed on the eBay for Business Podcast.
The other thing to remember too, is if you're a Top Rated Seller, you can actually try Promoted Listings for nothing. So you can get for this quarter, you could get a $30 credit to use to, to try them and get the effect and get the benefit.
So promotions for promoted listings or PL are these temporary, or are these ongoing?
This is going to end. This is just for Q4. So make sure if you want to take advantage of it, do it now.
Again, sellers requested clarification, and again, we were told there was “no update to share at this point in time.” (November 2020)
It was my suspicion that eBay was looking to get rid of the Promoted Listings credit as part of a larger plan to move to collecting Promoted Listings fees upfront in Managed Payments.
This suspicion was confirmed when I stumbled on this update to the FAQ page for Promoted Listings on December 12th, 2020.
I asked for additional clarification in the eBay Community Chat that week, but did not receive an answer and was told I’d needed to request a call back from a “payments trained teammate.”
In mid-January 2021, it came to light that some sellers were already having their Promoted Listings fees netted from their Managed Payments balance.
When pressed for more information about the timing of this change, the Payments team said:
Members who are currently being registered for Managed Payments are being opted into this new experience. For members (like yourself) you're going to continue be on the system you're on now until we roll it out fully.
Ultimately, our goal is to have everyone on the same experience , but no timeline for transition has been announced. Our understanding is there is there will be notice given.
At that time, there were no further updates about the fate of Promoted Listings Quarterly credit.
Now, here we are almost 5 months later and eBay has announced in the Spring update that the Promoted Listings credits are being retired and all sellers in Managed Payments will have fees netted from their available balance before payout.
Beginning in late March, all of your eBay selling fees and expenses, including those that are currently invoiced, will be collected from your earnings. If your earnings are not sufficient to cover these amounts, we will charge your payment method on file (debit or credit card, and/or linked bank account).
It’s disappointing but not surprising that eBay has decided to discontinue this seller benefit, and that they couldn’t be bothered to communicate their intentions clearly any time in the last 5 months when asked about it repeatedly.
Whether they intended to make the change in the Fall update and decided to hold off to avoid a negative impact on critical Q4 financial results or it really was simply a “mistake” - once the cat was out of the bag, eBay should have been honest with sellers.
This change is especially difficult to swallow for long time sellers who may still remember that these Promoted Listings credits were initially offered as a kind of consolation prize when eBay reduced the Top Rated Seller Plus discount from 20% to 10% in the 2017 Spring update.
In one final example of eBay’s inability to communicate with sellers in a direct and transparent fashion, it appears there was a last minute edit to this section of the Spring update.
An embarrassing oversight caused eBay’s unfinished draft versions to be publicly viewable on the eBay community.
The draft version of this section seemed to indicate eBay at least intended to offer various seasonal or seller specific Promoted Listings promotions in the future.
The final version removed all mention of any possible future promotions.
eBay seems to be betting sellers will continue to use Promoted Listings at the same or even greater rates without these credits.
With the retiring of Promoted Listings credits and the increase in fees, as well as the new payment and invoicing policies which net fees upfront, it’s clear to me eBay is very focused on increasing take rate and cash flow at the possible expense of the seller experience.