Ads On eBay Piss Off Sellers

from the don't-forget-your-primary-business dept

By placing ads on its pages, eBay was able to make approximately $76 million in revenue during the second quarter of this year. However, in doing so, eBay has drawn the ire of it sellers, who complain that the ads distract buyers from placing bids on their listings. eBay claims that their analysis shows that the advertising on the site "does not get in the way of people who intend to buy or sell items on the site." Considering that eBay's advertising revenue has doubled in 2007 as compared to 2006, the ads are a good way to monetize traffic that does not end up making a purchase. Furthermore, since the ads are contextual, eBay argues that the product experience is improved since the ads are relevant to the user's query. eBay's findings make sense; if a buyer really is interested in placing a bid, it seems quite unlikely that they would be derailed simply by viewing an ad. In any case, sellers are not convinced; they continue to fear that the ads distract potential buyers, despite not having any studies that indicate such a trend. Perhaps this fear is actually symptomatic of the true problem that eBay is facing today: sellers are no longer ecstatic to be on eBay. And, there's data to back that hypothesis up: the number of items listed in the second quarter of this year was 2 percent lower than the previous year.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Haywood, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 9:40pm

    Ads what ads

    Thank God for FireFox and Adblock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Ads what ads


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    AZ, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 10:11pm


    Ebay drops final value fee like the old days
    gallery drops from 30 cents to 10 cents
    Ebay attracts more sellers brings back the older ones and makes more money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Former Ebay Shopper, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 10:58pm

    Irritated with Ebay

    I think the sellers would have more success if they were actually competitive with the market. Those who are drawn away from sellers wares has more to do with their questionable pricing and outrageous shipping fees! Why buy a high priced cell phone which you have to wonder if you'll really get for a "deal" of 20 bucks cheaper than retail and spend 45 dollars for shipping?? Get a grip guys, I'll buy new with a guarantee of replacement/refund if there is damage or a problem with delivery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    John Fuda, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 11:02pm

    Ad Options?

    As a user of Adblock Plus on FireFox and AdMuncher on IE, I did not even know there were ads on eBay until I read this and a few related columns.

    I think it would be good for eBay to offer sellers the option to place ads for in their items for sale for a discount, maybe along the lines that AZ mentioned, this way everyone wins. Sellers can get lower fees by allowing ads and eBay reaps the increased revenue fee from the ads - and folks that don't want the ads pay full seller fees

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 11:47pm

    I suppose if the ads were tasteful and static (I know, wishful thinking), it would be acceptable, if not all that great. As long as the ads stoop to the level of those infamous LowerMyBills-dot-com dancing silhouettes, the annoyance is justified and AdBlock Plus will continue to earn its keep, Danny Carlton be damned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Paul, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 1:10am

    Re: Ad Options?

    Typical - FF=free blocking, IE=subscription.

    Good old FF!

    There are ads on eBay? LOL! I have a shop but use FF and never knew. I will have to take a look using IE.

    As for Fees - AZ failed to mention the PayPAl fixed fee that is killing me. On low value items it is a BIG chunk of the FV.

    eBay used to be good but now it is all about their bottom line and bu**er the sellers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Paul, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 1:14am

    Not in the UK?

    I checked with IE - No adds in the UK.

    Thinks - as you guys in the USA seem to do nothing but sue each other, how about a class action on the grounds of discrimination?

    If you win, can I get a cut for suggesting it? LOL!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Nick, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 1:52am

    Well, sellers getting upset seems reasonable to me. Think about it - contextual ads mean similar products, so if you are trying to sell (for example) an MP3 player, and your info is surrounded by ads for other MP3 players, that's competing for the sale - your prospective buyer is unlikely to buy both!

    On the other hand, just maybe ebay commisioned research which show exactly what they wanted it to show? Surely not!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    August West, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 3:31am


    Do people actually buy products because of annoying ads that distract them from the things they are trying to see on a website?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), Oct 11th, 2007 @ 3:32am


    More profitably, eBay adds a 30-cent surcharge to the listing fee for an ad-free listing. :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    John, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 3:44am

    Re: Ads

    If they didn't work, companies would stop using them. People are stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Oct 11th, 2007 @ 4:00am

    Nothing wrong with ebay...

    There is nothing wrong with ebay that a healthy dose of credible competition wouldn't cure in a heartbeat. Trouble is, there isn't any credible competition yet; many have tried, many have gone by the wayside.

    The internet presents an interesting phenomenon -- every niche has exactly one dominant player, and #2 is way back in the dust.
    Texas Concealed Handgun License Courses

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Ricky @, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 5:12am

    Re: Not in the UK?

    LOL! it's pretty sad, but true. I'm moving to Canada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    djwinch, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 5:14am

    ebay sucks

    it's about time to have Google improving its Google Base and Google Checkout. The "Buy it now" fixed price professional sellers are polluting the auction environment. eBay is becoming another mail order cy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Tim, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 5:40am


    I agree, contextual = distraction, and it's not surprising people might be prepared to buy something cheaper from a seller that'll be there next week.

    However, minus-points to techdirt for shoddy statistics. A far more useful metric would be the percentage changes in the average number of bids per item (optionally per item successfully sold).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Danny, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 5:55am

    Oh poor ebay...

    So the sellers a whinning that not as many people may be pulled into their clever scams, knockoff items, miss labeled items, and (OMFG!!) all those !!!!RARE!!!! items that show up on ebay?

    Please. These days I only use ebay as a last resort when I'm looking for something. I'd rather pay that extra $20 (and with shipping that can be outrageous are you really saving by buying it from ebay?) for a new product with warranty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    comboman, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:06am

    Ads within ads

    I expect to see ads on sites that offer free content (like Google or Techdirt). But eBay does not have free content, they are an e-commerce site. The sellers already pay listing and transaction fees. And now, the advertisers pay as well. The next step is probably the charge buyers a subscription fee for the privilege of viewing the site. eBay seems determined to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs by squeezing every last cent out of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    zeb, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:07am

    The only thing Ebay is good for is finding hard to get items. I don't bother with normal retail stuff for the same reason mentioned before, you only save a few bucks and then make up for the savings in high shipping costs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Ad Options?

    Typical - FF=free blocking, IE=subscription.

    Actually, it's how I work too, except it's "Adblock Plus" in Firefox on Linux and "AdMuncher" on Windows.

    "AdMuncher" does cost money, but it's a one-off fee, and it works as a transparent proxy, blocking ads in all applications and browsers on the system on which it is running. $40 for life (£20) IIRC, and if you're forced to use Windows I think it's well worth it. It's extremely configurable and can do the jobs of the "Adblock Plus" and "Flashblock" extensions, plus smart image filtering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    MR, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:47am

    Opera has content blocking capabilities built in

    Another option for free ad blocking is using the Opera browser. It has this capability built into the browser and does not require a plug in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Name, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Craigslist is so much easier...if you don't mind collecting money in person...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Not in the UK?

    I'm in the US, Using IE with no add blocking software. Just checked eBay, no adds. They may have removed them due to complaints.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Matthew, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Ad Options?

    It's ok, you can spell out bugger here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Ad Options?

    Try Privoxy to filter ads on IE. It seems harder to use than Adblock, but it is free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    inc, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Ads what ads

    I second that motion and append NoScripts Add-On.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 12:59am

    eBay Hypocrisy

    I think part of the reason that this is pissing off sellers so much is the utter hypocrisy from eBay

    For years they have stamped on sellers for even thinking about including links to other sites in their listings, claiming that it would reduce traffic on eBay and be bad for all. They have removed listings for just refering to tech specs on other sites in the past

    My id used to have a _co_uk on the end to encourage people to go straight to this address in future from outside eBay – even though this domain redirected straight to my eBay shop my account was suspended as it encouraged people to look elsewhere (can’t find the mail but it was great reading)

    So basically for years they’ve been saying that any reference to sites outside eBay would reduce traffic for all sellers but somehow now they are doing it, all's good?

    I call bullshit

    I think eBay have forgotten that their actual customers are the sellers NOT the buyers

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    jeremiah Sherrill, Nov 18th, 2007 @ 7:48am

    Don't they make enough?

    I am sorry but I sell on there. After what they charge me in listing fees I don't see why in the hell they are selling advertising to begin with. Makes me sick. I wish somebody would just step up and knock eBay down a peg or two.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Free Online Auctions, Mar 8th, 2008 @ 6:42am

    Ebay Ads

    The ads are annoying to me as well, I started using Online Auction Exchange Free Online Auction Listings They don't have any ads on any of there pages ... very clean site, easy to use, they also offer No Listing Fees, No Commission or End-of-Auction Fees. List your goods and services for a fraction of what you will pay eBay. Get your own online store for .99 cents a month. Online Auction Exchange.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    I THINK the original concept of the ebay bargain has been lost on the fact that they screw you any which way but loose for a quick and cheap buck, must admit their legal team do a good job of greasing up the seller tho.
    Cheeky buggers should atleast buy us dinner b4 ******g us!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Sanka, Feb 13th, 2010 @ 4:52am

    eBay Shop Advertising?

    Hi Ya, I have an eBay shop and one thing some of my customers found useful was this site which not only advertised the shop for me (to the USA) but it gave me and some of those customers money off coupons for eBay. Sanka

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Silverado, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    advertisment on Ebay

    We have store on Ebay and we used to advertise with ad commerce on Ebay but since September it is no longer available for US ebay users!!! And it was not free. Our sales went down so much that we are thinking about closing our store Silver Charm NY. Maybe somebody can help us in this matter ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    girl humphrey, Jul 3rd, 2012 @ 12:29am

    ads on ebay listings

    I haven't looked on eBay for ages but as a potential buyer I was really put off by the ads on the listings. It looks like the sellers are condoning/supporting the ads. I won't bid of 2 items at all (regardless how cheap they go) due to Milan Direct ads and I won't ever list anything if eBay are doing this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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