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Do Promoted Listings increase sales on eBay

By Chris Dawson January 16, 2020 - 10:58 am

Do Promoted Listings increase sales? Regular Tamebay correspondent David Brackin of Stuff U Sell describes his experience of using promoted listings in this video. David reveals the increase in sell through rates and a look at the test results he saw when challenging Promoted Listings to see if they work.

In a three part series on Tamebay, David set up his trial methodology, reported his experimental results and gave actionable insights on how you can make eBay Promoted Listings work for you. You can read the original posts at:
Do Promoted Listings on eBay work? – The Trial
eBay Promoted Listings have a Significant Effect on Sales – Experimental Results
How to make eBay Promoted Listings work for you – Actionable Insights

Perhaps David’s biggest learning was that the evidence from his tests in 2019 for a statistically significant uplift in sell-through rate was overwhelming. Even with a minimum 1% bid, Promoted Listings increase sales. Equally, the biggest thing to avoid is the “1% over competition” bid setting. David said he’d never seen money go out of the door so fast so start small, ensure you know your margins and what you can afford, and experiment with slowly raising your bid rates.

You can learn more about Promoted Listings on the eBay Seller Centre

  • NorthCrystal
    1 month ago

    Of course promoted listings make sense!.

    Just kidding!

    With all due respect but that video is sponsored by eBay…?

    We have 2 business accounts.

    1st account is 4 years old with 100% positive feedback (top seller etc) and promoted listings brought zero sales. Zero(!). Tested over few months period.

    2nd account is new, with little feedback, about 1/4 of (different) stock from above. Almost all listings are promoted and current rate is that about 2% of all sales are from promoted. That’s from last 4 months.

    Waste of time really taking into account the level of “maintenance” for %. Perhaps some categories make sense for promoted. Talking from my experience.

    • 1 month ago

      @NorthCrystal What maintenance is involved, once you have set it up just forget it?

      One of my accounts is showing the below stats from the 1st Dec

      Impressions 847,962
      Clicks 1,173
      Sold 95
      Ad fees £15.64
      Sales £1,563.2

      I wouldn’t say wow! but it works and you only pay on results.

      Looking back at some sales which show “Sold via Promote your listings” I see orders that have multiple products but only one is “Sold via Promote your listings”, so a product sold for £16.26 is part of a £51.10 order.

      Did the buyer buy extra items from me after or before they saw the promoted listing?

    • 1 month ago

      Hi NorthCrystal –
      The video was produced by eBay but the original research was designed and executed by me without any say from eBay. Like all of us, I’m skeptical when I see some of their published numbers so I wanted this to be a trial run by a seller. It was a blind randomised control test with a priori hypothesis – in terms of study definition, it’s the same design as required for drug approval. I asked ebay up front to pay for the PL we used for the study to allow us to test higher rates and for longer and they agreed without any conditions on publication.

      What we found was that at that time and on our inventory some promoted listings spend had a statistically significant effect on sell-through rates. We designed our own reports as the ebay reporting does not show incremental sales (why pay for sales which you would have got anyway?)

      Furthermore, we found that with our economics, the incremental sales were worth the additional spend.

      The PL placements have changed since the study and duplicate placements have been removed, but we still see an effect of PL on our sell-through rate, although this is anecdotal only and we haven’t done another quantitative study.

      We have, however run dozens of other tests to track sales improvements. Mostly these are for our clients benefit only, but I will publish one I’m working on at the moment soon, and I hope to take another look at PL later on.

      I hope these learnings are useful to other sellers to get the best out of the eBay marketplace.

    • NorthCrystal
      1 month ago

      @tyler
      By maintenance I mean that when I first turn the promoted on I would follow the “trending rate” and set my listing to same % or little above. That “trending rate” (no matter if valid etc) will change in few weeks/months time and that’s what I call maintenance. Unfortunately eBay isn’t designed for serious sellers. Few thousand listings and one needs 3rd party tool to get around the basics.

  • wyatt
    1 month ago

    I was interested to know how my 2019 was just for promo listings

    I mean it clearly works, but at the same time I paid an extra chunk to eBay

    Impressions 17,579,883
    Clicks 46,467
    Sold 1,556
    Ad fees (£) 650.67
    Sales (£) 27,157.46

  • Jonah
    1 month ago

    We don’t do sponsored listing, possibly why our sales have tanked over the last few months. If it gets worse, we will move on and leave ebay. Our fees are already 12%, they want another 6.3 % trending rate or above to promote- really? 18% of the entire sale price whilst in turn offering no customer support and protection whatsoever !!! And yes I know we can promote for 1%, but we find unless you beat the trending rate it’s useless. We even tried beating the trending rate then reducing to 1%, again no sales. Before you ask, we sell unique antique items- so how ebay can even tell me there is a trending rate is laughable.
    Thanks, but no thanks ebay.

    • Dav
      1 month ago

      eBay’s trending rates are a total scam. It’s 100% fabricated to get gullible sellers to give eBay more money. Don’t ever trust any data eBay gives you. Everything they recommend is for them to take in more money at your expense. eBay is a completely rigged system in their favor.

  • Dav
    1 month ago

    There’s no proof anywhere that says Promoted Listings do anything of use. The majority of comments I’ve read say sales don’t change at all or even decline and you just end up giving more money to eBay. THAT is exactly what this is designed for. More money for eBay, less for you. As is the same with all their other gimmicks and schemes in which eBay claims you’ll get an X% increase in sales if you do this or that. It’s all rigged in favor of eBay and you can’t trust the numbers they’re giving you. Let’s also not forget that according to different data sources that at least 30-40% of PC and mobile internet users have an ad blocker of some kind that may block all Promoted Listings. Think about it. They won’t see your listing at all because eBay won’t be showing the organic listing if you’re promoting. In the long run Promoted Listings is just another scam in which eBay wins and the seller loses.

    • NorthCrystal
      1 month ago

      FYI: Using Ghostery blocker of my desktop browser and I have blocked everything on every website (apart from AutoTrader as then ads don’t show…). I can still see promoted on eBay though.

    • Dav
      1 month ago

      That probably means you’re still allowing “Acceptable Ads”. Not all ad blockers are the same and there’s different filter lists available. Many blockers have the option to disallow “Acceptable Ads” and if selected so, Promoted Listings will be gone. There’s still a good portion of users out there who: 1) Don’t ever want to see Promoted Listings because they’re an annoyance 2) Use an ad blocker that blocks Promoted Listings whether they’re aware of it or not.

  • SAM
    1 month ago

    You do not have much of a choice. Even Magpie are doing “stealth FEES”, you are so far down the list you will never sell a bean these days.
    The average rate they show is also misleading and frankly deliberately misleading. Those margins simply do not exist in our sector.
    On top of it we have had to deal with counterfeit (although this is not as big an issue in our sector as some others), and eBay are criminal as far as I am concerned for not policing the site.
    They are destroying their own site by the chronic mismanagement and in the long term just driving “burnt” buyers away for short term profit.
    The only pro is your not paying for just clicks.
    Stealth fees have made things like TRS, genuine fast and free totally redundant, we non longer bother with 24 hrs post.
    PAY to Play is not a new idea, but only those with the deepest pockets (or of course the fakers with margin) can compete. This in turn means eBay is not the go to place for start ups and micro business..

  • SAM
    1 month ago

    Oops did not actually answer the question. They do increase sales but sacrifice margin, you can’t sell without them now.

    .Our sales were 100 times what they were before stealth fees when TRS speed of post and having top metrics mattered.

  • 1 month ago

    As usual, a lot of groaning going on here.

    Hands up all that have their own website and promote their own business other than through eBay / Amazon etc…

    That is the trouble these days, many don’t have a business and just act as sales agents for eBay / Amazon but have to buy your own stock. You don’t have a recognisable brand, nobody knows who you are, you remind me of the old football chant; Who are you, who are you?

    We are now running at 45/20/35 Amazon/eBay/website sales from 50/40/10 and our turnover is increasing.

    It costs money to invest in your own business advertising & promotion, so far easier to ride on the back of the big marketplaces and pay a commission rather than invest in promotion yourselves.

  • 1 month ago

    Here is my last 31 days promoted listing reports. Recently I sent all my international listings ( over 9000 listings ) so far no major impact. I’ll wait around 30 days and let you guys know.

    Campaigns: 5

    Listings promoted: 192

    Impressions 463,767

    Clicks: 1,495

    Sold: 187

    Ad fees (£) 67.23

    Sales (£) 1,004.12

  • jim
    1 month ago

    if it sells for a profit we dont care
    what ebay makes or how they do it
    if some other market place can provide the same sales and profit we will use them

  • Dima
    1 month ago

    Stats for 2019:
    Impressions: 190,101,525
    Clicks: 501,142
    Sold, 2,785
    Ad fees: £27,954.07
    Sales: £193,093.34

    Our business model and category is not very common, however from personal experience in our category Promoted Listings were a game-changer.

    • 1 month ago

      Hi Dima —
      Interesting figures. Do you know how many of those 193k sales would have been made if you didn’t do promoted listings?

      14.5% PLs is very high amount to pay on sales you might have generated anyway, but if your margin will stand it and those are all (or sufficient proportion of them) incremental, then I can see why you would pay eBay 2.5x what they charge the next guy!

    • Dima
      1 month ago

      Hard to say what percentage would have been made if I had promoted listings turned off. My overall sales for 2019 is at £435k. I had promoted listings turned on for pretty much the whole year. The promotion percentage is built into the margin and my margins are very big in comparison to some other business models. I sell mostly unique and pre-owned high value items that I source very cheaply and in big volume. I also needed the capital in 2019as there were insane sourcing opportunities that needed the capital, which have now dried up. This year I plan to run a lower percentage of promoted listings (5%) as I do not necessarily need so much turnover and can afford to have less sales.

    • 1 month ago

      @Dima As David Brackin said, interesting figures and a shame that I am unable to add anymore to the subject due to censorship by Tamebay.

      I find we are lacking a freedom of speech on Tamebay and comments are deleted rather than discussed.

  • 1 month ago

    Interesting, thanks.

    It’s very hard to tell what incremental sales are, but you could do some proxy tests using pre- post- testing. Turn off PL for a week and measure sales and turn it back on. Don’t pick “special” weeks like payroll / bank holidays and see if it has an effect.

    Or if you have wide inventory try running it on half one week and the other half the other week and see what the difference in sell-through rates looks like.

    The trial that we ran required a lot of analysis of the underlying data that’s hard to do just with the eBay reporting pages.

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