eBay test “Hot” watched items in search

eBay Says Hot
Spotted by innoin, eBay are once again toying with watched items. This time they appear to be testing a “Hot” icon in search results and letting buyers know how many others have added an item to their watch list.

I’m a bit bemused, whilst eBay shut down eBay Pulse about a year ago, it was replaced by Popular items although not too many people know it’s there.

However the thing that really confuses me is why eBay thinks watched items are that important in a world where Buy It Now has largely usurped auctions. For an auction, knowing that a lot of people were watching an item might convince me I need to up my maximum bid but for a fixed price item I either want it or not.

Of course I may add an item to my watched items even if it is fixed price as I’m interested but not ready to buy, or I might add it to a wish list or other bookmark on eBay such as favourite searches. Each user ID can add up to 100 items to their watch list.

In reality however eBay Pulse was always full of spam, I often saw newly listed products which within a day had 50 or more watchers and popped back up every time they were relisted. I’ve long suspected that some buyers have a tranche of friendly eBay users that watch all of their items. We’ve not been told if watched items impact the current Best Match search, or if the new Cassini search engine will take notice of how many watchers an item has. What we do know is that some sellers are convinced that simply watching their own items increases their likelihood of appearing higher in search.

Do you spam watch your own items? Have you ever experimented or measured if you get more sales by watching your own items from a couple of alternative eBay User IDs or seen an increase in sales when buyers are watching your items? Are you secretly part of a watchers ring that routinely watch each other’s items?

We’d love to get some insights as from our point of view we don’t really care how many watchers there are on an item, we’ll either click the Buy It Now button or we won’t. However if the number of watchers increases position in Best Match so that we see your item in the first place perhaps we should all be adding spam watchers to our listings? Definitely eBay seem to think they matter, at least enough to experiment with highlighting items with large numbers of watchers.