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Why are there no eBay ad quality checks on Promoted Listings?

By Chris Dawson February 5, 2019 - 6:00 am

eBay Promoted Listings are going to be a big topic of discussion in 2019 with eBay‘s stated intent to grow that what’s currently an $80 million a quarter business to a $1 billion revenue stream. Today we ask the question why are there no eBay ad quality checks on Promoted Listings?

Currently, eBay Promoted Listings are displayed in the 1st, 4th and 5th positions in search results. Here at Tamebay we believe that this is a bad thing, or at least the 1st position in search results is. Buyers using the default eBay Best Match expect eBay to provide the most relevant and best offers from the best sellers at the top of search results – that is after all what Best Match is all about. Now however, practically anyone can buy their way to the top of search results.

eBay do say that your Best Match ranking is one of the factors that is taken into account when determining which promoted listings ads are shown on search result pages. You can refer to these guidelines to optimise your listings but the bar to entry is low.

Quality vs Paying for Visibility

The big issue that we see with selling the top position in search results is that there is no eBay ad quality checks. To get to the top of Best Match organically, a listing pretty much has to have a great sales history (and gets a boost from being an eBay Premium service listing, offering great probably free shipping with a great returns offer etc). It’s a listing that buyers can be confident from which previous buyers have been happy. That’s simply not true if the first position in search results can be bought – chances are that sooner or later a buyer will end up with a 10+ day delivery from China, poor customer service and that will only result in buyers distrusting eBay and buying less frequently.

Comparing Amazon and eBay Ad Quality Checks

Amazon Sponsored Products must be eligible for the Buy Box – if a merchant’s offer isn’t good enough to be eligible for the Buy Box then it won’t ever be shown to customers regardless of how much a merchant is willing to pay. If you create an Amazon Sponsored Products ad for a product listing that is not eligible for the Buy Box, your ad will not display to Amazon shoppers.

Eligibility to win the Amazon Buy Box is tied to specific seller performance criteria that identify the sellers who have consistently provided customers with a great buying experience. Amazon are so ruthless that even if you are the only merchant with an offer for a particular ASIN, if they deem you not worthy then they simply remove the Buy Box from the single product detail page rather than gift it to a seller with a poor record.

Whilst Amazon’s Buy Box eligibility brings an automatic quality check to Amazon Sponsored Product Ads, there are no eBay ad quality checks in place. The only real qualification to be able to use eBay Promoted Listings is to be an active eBay Shop subscriber and the one and only qualification to open a Basic eBay shop is to be PayPal Verified.

Sellers forced to outbid low quality sellers

The very best sellers on eBay are in the bizarre position of their product being at the top of organic eBay Best Match search results but that is in reality second spot due to first spot being handed to eBay Promoted Listings. In order to keep a low quality seller out of the top spot, UK sellers are having to bid higher for eBay Promoted Listings and then they’ll get first and second spot in search results. The downside is that consumers buy from the first search result which incurs the eBay Promoted Listings fee.

When sellers aren’t willing to play eBay’s pay per play game, the very best position a buyer will find a quality seller is in second position and buyers aren’t accustomed to the first position in search results being gifted to a low quality seller. eBay need to do one of two things – either give the first position in Best Match back to the seller who earns the placement through organic search results, or introduce a strict eBay ad quality checks (perhaps at least Top Rated Seller status if not eBay Premium Listings) into Promoted Listings to prevent disappointing buyer experiences.

Coming later this week…

Starting Wednesday, we will be publishing a three part in depth report on eBay Promoted Listings. If you want to know if they work, how much to bid and what the uplift in sales is like – forget anecdotal reviews, Tamebay correspondent David Brackin from Stuff U Sell has undertaken first rigorous wide scale scientific test of eBay Promoted Listings to be published. This is one you won’t want to miss and the three parts will go live at 9am on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

  • SAM
    3 months ago

    Because ebay is only interested in making money even if it is from low quality or in our sector form “counterfeit products”.
    We emailed Hattrel with evidence of some of these counterfeit products back in Nov and only more appeared there is 1st 2nd 3rd 4th the whole page …the site is unmanaged and unchecked, it is criminal….who PAYS plays even if it is criminals.

    We ended up contacting trading standards as eBay were clearly not going to take down the counterfeit, but it is like trying to fight against a tidal wave and impossible.
    it has had a huge negative effect on our business so much so we pretty much have had to give eBay a sidewinder. You do not see these crooks getting to flog their rubbish on Amazon or Game…it is a pure eBay issue.

    I simply cannot buy genuine quality products and compete with counterfeit mainly from China (the main issue it hit our real margin makers)…does not matter how savvy you are in business this is an impossible situation.

    Till it is actually brought under control (there has always been issues but not like right now) and the likes of eBay are forced to take responsibility for what they profit from ebay is not a SITE to invest in….

    I have used Promo listing since they started, and have no real issue with them but the industrial size of the abuse of them is totally out of control…
    Till the current management of ebay are moved on I cannot see anything changing. It is just Greed now… and it is not good for UK business…this effect’s all genuine merchants out there…

  • Peter
    3 months ago

    Of course Amazon are worse, you can have a product that is much cheaper than a competitor but if that competitor is listing Prime, there item is pushed to the top,.

    Price: £10.36 + £4.56 UK Delivery (This just happens to be Amazon themselves)
    Then in much smaller letters
    “3 new from £14.14”

    Price: £6.49 FREE delivery.
    3 new from £4.94
    Guess which one is prime! (not the one that is £1.55 cheaper)

    • Rob
      3 months ago

      Currently have a few products listed on Amazon where they have the buy box yet have no stock as waiting for new stock to arrive. I am the only other seller and have stock yet no buy box.

    • 3 months ago

      @Rob We have the same problem, CS told us that Amazon Retail is subject to the same rules as other people. Absolutely not true on many issues.

  • Steve
    3 months ago

    The current leadership of eBay are clearly getting it so wrong there are even shareholder rebellions. eBay shares fell by 25% in 2018 while the online market trend is up,up,up. A rising tide lifts all boats? Not in eBay’s case.

    You have to wonder who else is paying Devin Whatsathingy? Amazon?

  • George
    3 months ago

    Day after day I read posts here through my RSS reader and am astounded by how ridiculously you guys try to spin every single feature or aspect of eBay as a negative to the point that eBay is attacking sellers.

    There is seriously zero understanding of the Amazon Buy Box here. All you need to do is offer Prime and have the lowest price. There isn’t some long drawn out check or review of the seller’s history to make sure they’re providing a quality experience except for brand new accounts and it hardly lasts and is very easy to overcome.

    Amazon let’s you get the first two positions of the SERP with a PPC ad and you can overtake the results entirely with a Headline Search Ad. And you can bid on whatever keyword you want to. And the brand names and names of other companies in your keyword bids.

    “The downside is that consumers buy from the first search result which incurs the eBay Promoted Listings fee.” Citation needed. Pretty disingenuous to pass this off as a fact when it’s nothing but an assumption. There is no indication that eBayers are more likely to buy the very first search result.

    All of this complaining about ads is hilarious when it’s from a website that has an ad covering the entire site to where if you click anywhere outside of the content area you’re taking to another site. Especially when that site is nothing but an eBay aggregate surviving off of affiliate revenue.

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