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Best Products not always highlighted by eBay Promoted Listings

By Chris Dawson January 3, 2020 - 11:02 am

eBay Promoted Listings have attracted an ongoing number of complaints that too often the top slot in search is taken by a seller with poor feedback, a Chinese seller with slow shipping, a ridiculously high price or simply an unattractive offer. Sellers ask why, if they have the best products, their listings aren’t being shown to buyers (and here at Tamebay we would add ‘regardless of whether they pay to play or refuse the eBay Promoted Listings boost and rely on organic search’).

And yet, as a buyer, the first position in search results is where the Internet has trained us to expect the best search result and eBay buyers are no different. Indeed, on mobile, the eBay Promoted Listing taking the top slot in search results is virtually indistinguishable from the best products being lowered in search simply because the seller didn’t bid to pay enough to have their listing promoted.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Jordan Sweetnam, who recently returned to eBay as Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas Market.

“It’s something I saw pretty quickly after my return… great sellers (top rated, amazing feedback, great prices) were ranking below sellers with 0 (!) feedback or (even worse) feedback scores of 94%, 96%, etc…”
– Jordan Sweetnam, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas Market, eBay

There are many questions to be asked about the efficacy of eBay Promoted Listings as sellers simply don’t have the tools to measure their performance. Indeed, even on something as simple as accepting or declining a Best Offer, sellers don’t know if the buyer clicked on a Promoted Listing (and they’ll be charged higher fees) or if it was an organic listing and they can consider accepting a lower price from the buyer. All we do know is that the top slot in search results is extremely attractive but to budget for it sellers might be tempted to up their shipping price, use a slower delivery service or trim their offer in other ways simply to free up cash to pay for eBay Promoted Listings fees and that’s not good for buyers.

Jordan went on to say that eBay are looking at this and whilst sellers won’t notice any changes immediately, eBay will be testing how eBay Promoted Listings work in order to promote the best products and will potentially be announcing changes in the second quarter of 2020.

“I think promoted listings is great tool for sellers when used correctly. Have a new product and want to have it rank up in search quickly? Use PL. But if you are new to the platform and haven’t proven that you can deliver the buyer experiences of our best sellers it doesn’t make any sense to have those items appear at the top. I certainly *do not* want someone taking $s out of shipping faster or packing better to invest in paying for a promoted listing placement instead.

Conversations on this topic are underway – I can’t commit to a specific date or change – but don’t be surprised to see us testing some things in the new year and announcing changes by Q2.”
– Jordan Sweetnam, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas Market, eBay

  • jim
    5 months ago

    if your a top rated seller have the best service, the best product, and the best feedback
    you have already paid your pound of flesh
    promoted listings is blatant profiteering by ebay

    • Jonah
      5 months ago

      Here here Jim, but seeing as ebay are raking it in they won’t give a hoot, until they have found their brand has fell apart by which time it will be too late.

  • ifellow
    5 months ago

    ‘Listings have attracted an ongoing number of complaints that too often the top slot in search is taken by a seller with poor feedback, a Chinese seller with slow shipping, a ridiculously high price or simply an unattractive offer’

    Isnt this eBay in Nutshell ? Lets no mention, lying life time time warranties, non compliant and fake goods and off course the tax fraud.

    Seems this is what shoppers want these days !

  • ifellow
    5 months ago

    To expensive to sell on eBay these days, cant expect people to compete with the 1000s of vat fraudster and pay fees ontop of fees.

  • SAM
    5 months ago

    I have suffered at lot since 2017 with stealth fees. I always shipped 24 hour service and up to 16.00 same day, was always there or there about in best match, I done what customers and eBay wanted.
    Now I have to compete with counterfeit China sellers, fraudulent sellers passing pre owned for new as they can use pay to play…slow post, bad feedback sellers etc etc .

    Now eBay is 48 hour post and 1 day dispatch. I hope this guy is not just another PR puppet like Hattrell and has some real clout as it is the 1st time in ages a bit of sense has come out of someone from eBay. I will not hold my breath however

    That was a shocking peak trading period and am sure am not the only one saying that.

    • ifellow
      5 months ago

      Everyone in the same boat, caught between UK tax evaders and Chinese Tax evaders. Really this is HMRCs fault as well, if not more so. The market places are simply playing the system and HMRC has been found to be highly incompetent.

  • Dav
    5 months ago

    Giving the best sellers more sales isn’t how eBay operates and it’s not going to change. Does not matter what anyone from eBay says. There are too many sellers, too many having the same items, and not enough buyers anymore. Site traffic and buyers have declined greatly and have gone elsewhere. eBay is lying about active buyers increasing every quarter. The actual way sales work is they want to spread them around to new sellers, bad sellers, because they want to keep them paying for stores, keep them enrolled in the GTC relist scam, and give eBay Promoted Listings money. Their plan is to keep everyone around longer and drag sales along, which in turn through eBay’s schemes give themselves more money. They also want new sellers around that don’t know what they’re doing because they’re more easily tricked. The whole operation of this company is to harvest as much money they can out of the most sellers by any means possible. Scams, schemes, fraud, deception, tricks, doesn’t matter to eBay, they’re doing it. Eventually all of this BS is gonna come crashing down on them.

    • ifellow
      5 months ago

      They have more or less an infinite supply of sellers from China.

      Its domestic sellers will have a struggle recruiting and retaining, as the site simply is not attractive to anyone actually wanting to make a margin & pay taxes at the time.

      I personally have given up on eBay as viable platform and closed my store before this Christmas and have stopped replacing stocks, however, this will be of no benefit to domestic sellers, because Chinese sellers are already dominating the sales of these items.

    • ifellow
      5 months ago

      PS promoted listing fees cant be trending at 20% where Chinese sellers are dominant, this is they monies eBay wants to collect, those funds that should be going to HMRC, eBay want sellers to spend attracting sales and eBay themselves pocketing.

  • Nick
    5 months ago

    We know that ebay have been historically slow to react to sellers exploiting loopholes. It took years for ebay to resolve the issue of sellers listing items for a penny and loading the shipping fees, for instance; but they’re not stupid. I’m sure they can see the way that promoted listings are increasingly being exploited, but ebay are making quite a lot of money out of this and may be quite happy to keep things as they are; at least for a while. The only thing that surprises me is that they took decades to grasp the concept of offering sellers the chance pay money to be more visible (and push other sellers further down the screen). The key here is to accept that there needs to be a level of perceived unfairness, in the generic system, for sellers to be tempted to pay money to “jump the queue”, which means that any review of the “fairness” of listings promotion will only go so far, because ebay are there to make money for their shareholders, and you can be sure that those shareholders want to hold on to the golden egg that promoted listings is becoming.

    But fear not, my fellow sellers. There’s nothing to stop each of us setting a ridiculously high promoted listing percentage and then upping the price of those items to cover the promotion fees in the unlikely event of a sale, and using those selected listings to promote the hell out of “normal” listings. And of course, there’s nothing to stop us from mentioning (in the listing) that the high price will fall to another (much lower) price, after a certain number of days, and hence gaining prominent visibility for zero financial outlay. Loopholes exist, so sellers should be exploring them.

    • 5 months ago

      @Nick.

      If i increase my prices to cover promotional rates the items simply dont sell. So in my eyes all these promoted listings are a stealth fee as Ebay is taking a bigger cut of an existing price.

  • Don
    5 months ago

    I have been saying this from day 1:

    Promoted listings will always de-optimize best results and thus de-optimize buyer experiences. There is no way around that.

    Ebay is selling out their platform by adding promoted listings in search results. It’s not just ebay, Etsy and other platforms are doing it as well.

    A more sensible way of using promoted listings would be not to show them in search results but on other places on and, possibly, off the platform.

  • Andy
    5 months ago

    What eBay have done is ridiculous. If your item is showing as promoted then the organic listing is not showing, so the customer doesn’t have the choice to pick which listing to click on. Promoted listings in my opinion are less trustworthy and some customers will not click on promoted listings. We had a listing that was ‘Promoted’ halfway down the page. We took the listing off and it stayed in the same position, the only think that changed was the fact we weren’t paying and extra percentage to eBay. Competitors are also promoting their listing getting it to the top paying a very high percentage and I’m sure they are not taking this into consideration when pricing the item. They will get a shock when they realise they are basically paying an extra 10% plus in eBay fees!

  • leee
    5 months ago

    Promoted listings weren’t the way to go, with the already continued increases over the past 2 years both via ebay and paypal, adding more fees will just price them out of there own market. As a seller on ebay and etsy i much prefer etsy. Dont have to jump through hoops to display, can do promotional but its not shoved in your face and you can set the total price your willing to spend for the month. Fees if you include paypal are considerably lower meaning item costs are reduced so more people now buy from me through there than ebay. The more that they keep increasing fees, and pushing sellers the less the platform will grow. The more people i speak to the worse it seems to be showing, the fake items at the top spot are a joke. The fake locations and VAT numbers still hasn’t been dealt with, all ebay seem to care about it pushing as much money as possible as quickly as possible. Looking at there stats they haven’t grown for the last 3 quarters, so not quite sure how they worked out the marketplace is up.

  • 5 months ago

    What i am noticing is how many “bait and switch” deals there are on eBay – anytime there is a drop down menu option, the selection will increase the price. its super-misleading. If you look at smartphones, almost any colour choice will raise the price, so there were none actually on offer at the listed price, and I am finding this even more often with sponsored listings. So as the above post says, list for £1, then make the final price £100, its just a way to lure dumb or lazy buyers into the first listing, with no help from the left hand rail of options to preselect. Sad to see….

  • 5 months ago

    Please be aware that eBay are charging for Promoted Listings fees on sales of items when you have been demoted from Top Seller Rating. They will not promote your listings, but are still taking the fee for it if your item sells! So if you get put on the naughty step, turn them off. They are charging you for a service they are not providing.

    • Dav
      5 months ago

      “They are charging you for a service they are not providing.”

      Sums up eBay perfectly. They’re actually only interested in stealing as much money as they can from everyone by every means possible, not providing any service. This narrative is only getting worse and will continue.

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