eBay has made it no secret that increasing ad revenue is one of their main priorities, which means sellers can expect to see even more slicing and dicing of ad options as eBay continues to look for ways to monetize every aspect of the user experience.
GM of eBay Ads, Elisabeth Rommel, recently gave MediaPost a glimpse into the ads roadmap for 2022.
Rommel says eBay is expanding their efforts to provide full-funnel ad strategies this year with new ad types launching in the coming months.
eBay will launch an ad unit -- code-named Promoted Display, based on a cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model. The company will test it in September, with the goal to roll out the ad unit in a closed beta during the second half in 2022.
The ads will serve up on eBay’s “View Items” page, where merchants highlight their products.
“We have a test and learn culture and always think of a placement with high visibility above the fold,” Rommel said. “It will be targeted at a higher level above search. We learn and make changes before rolling it out more broadly.”
This Promoted Display ad unit will target repeat customers, the type of consumer who knows, for example that Adidas sells shoes and sportswear.
The View Items page is likely referring to when you click on "see other items" in a listing and are taken to a page that shows all of the seller's items.
If the seller has a store subscription, you'll see their store header on the "see other items" page. If not, you'll just see a list of the seller's items.
Either way, my guess is "above the fold" means these ads will be placed somewhere between the top of the page and the list of items which will likely push the organic/non-promoted listings further down, replicating the terrible user experience created by ad stuffing on listing pages.
It's also interesting they are specifically targeting repeat buyers with Promoted Display.
eBay has been putting in a lot of effort to identify repeat buyers and provide options for sellers to market directly to them with buyer groups, but as with anything eBay does - features added for sellers are also likely to be monetized at some point to maximize eBay's revenue, particularly for ads.
As a reader commented about the lack of substantive answers in the weekly chat about Stores, eBay's efforts on seller features often point to broader efforts to increase ad revenue.
The reason for eBay's lack of substantive responses is because any effort that eBay is pouring into stores/shops/newsletters is primarily as an advertising vehicle to surface more promoted listings.
This "chat" was clearly a dog-and-pony show to appease those highly participative eBay-community member-sellers.
EBay is aware "stores" are a weak product they can spin lots of positive PR around any enhancements; thus expect any substantive development efforts to focus in the miniscule sliver of Venn-diagram overlap of sellers' wants/needs/desires and eBay's advertising revenue growth targets.
During his presentation at Investor Day 2022, VP Global Advertising Alex Kazim briefly hinted that a new ad option for Stores would be "coming soon." There were no details given at that time, and none given in response to questions about it in the recent monthly community chat about Stores either.
At the time I believed he was possibly talking about an ad option to drive traffic to Stores (which may still be possible) but it could also be he was referring to ads on Store pages, like Promoted Display.
If it's the latter, eBay will need to step carefully around adding Promoted Listings on Store pages as many sellers feel since they already pay subscriptions fees, the Store page real estate should be theirs and not include paid advertising.
Last year several sellers raised concerns after seeing the promoted version of their own listings showing in their stores. Sellers balked at the practice, believing if a potential buyer is already browsing your store, it's likely they do not need an ad to find an item they are looking for or convert them into a sale and it was unfair of eBay to be taking a cut of those sales.
eBay eventually called it a "glitch" that was fixed and gave affected sellers refunds on ad fees from Promoted Listings within their stores, but some sellers suspected it may have actually been a test that eBay abandoned after the backlash.
Another new ad type on the roadmap is giving sellers the option to promote their listings more directly on Google and Bing, launching in Q3.
Rommel said eBay also wants to help sellers drive search traffic from engines like Google and Bing to eBay. It would mean piggybacking on eBay’s quality score and brands in the market. This would be helpful for sellers who do not have a recognizable name or a website in which to send traffic.
Rather than just accept the traffic that comes from eBay’s advertising efficiency goals, the seller can fund advertising on Google that moves directly to their products on eBay.
Currently, eBay has External Promoted Listings - this option allows you to opt your current Promoted Listings Standard ads into being eligible for placement both on the eBay network and external ad placements, like Google & Bing.
However, the External Promoted Listings offering is fairly limited.
For one thing, it's an all or nothing scenario with opt in at the account level - either every listing you have in an active Promoted Listings Standard campaign is allowed to be shown externally as well, or none of them are.
You also cannot adjust the ad rate separately for external vs on eBay network ads. There's a single Promoted Listings Standard ad rate that applies regardless of where the ad is displayed and it's based on a cost per sale model.
It's also worth noting, many sellers felt the move to External Promoted Listings was eBay's way of offloading costs of advertising they used to do on their own, making it a cost borne directly by sellers instead.
When it was first rolled out last year, I pointed out that eBay had not done a great job of communicating how External PL was different or provided additional value above and beyond the service of sending listings to Google Shopping for free they were already providing.
Opening up direct Google and Bing advertising opportunities to sellers may help them optimize campaigns to get better return on ad spend (ROAS) but sellers should weigh the costs carefully - especially if this new ad option ends up being a Cost Per Click instead of Cost Per Sale model.
What do you think of eBay's ad plans for 2022 and beyond?
Will you use the new ad types when they're available? Do you believe you're getting a good return on ad spend from existing ad options?
Let us know in the comments below!