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back to article eBay: Our paid Google advertising was a total waste of money

eBay has claimed that Google's paid search ads aren't worth the money for big-name brands, after it conducted a study showing that found it was only getting 25 cents back for every dollar it spent. eBay Research Labs looked at the online bazaar's sales after it gave up on search ads in some regions but left them on in others. …

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Joke

Do know evil

"In any Google search for a well-known brand like eBay, Amazon or John Lewis, that firm's site is going to pop up at the top of search results anyway..."

Until they stop paying for ads.

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Holmes

Re: Do know evil

What's the joke? The google really is EVIL these days, and more so all the time.

These days it seems like google's main concern is how to prevent complaints about the gmail-based spammers. If that isn't EVIL, I'd be curious what qualifies.

I'd think that google would resent the competition from the spammers, or maybe they would be concerned about the value of the brands that are being abused to death by the spammers. Where does the self-interest go south?

As someone who used to think the google was going to help make the world better, I now feel like a bigger sucker than an ebay shopper.

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Windows

Re: Do know evil

Oh yeah... Google is Evil !!! :P get a life. They are an org out to make a buck like every other org. Except they go out of there way to help you every now and then. If you dont believe me go ask the tens of thousands of small businesses who have started up PURELY because of Google Organic search.

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Trollface

sigh

Could be because every time I see "eBay" in an add or on Google Shopper I simply think either "scam" or "fraud". Perhaps they have an image problem?

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Re: sigh

indeed, at least you can still boolean -ebay

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sigh

When I first started using ebay it had less than 100,000 users, and since then I've bought over 100 items without a single problem. I don't know where this fear of scams on ebay comes from.

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Black Helicopters

Re: sigh

I've been scammed as a seller. Sold an item for $200 (it was worth a lot more), buyer sends me a message that it's not as described (not true). I give him my phone number, never calls me, keeps sending nasty messages. I tell him to send it back. He doesn't want to. He contacts ebay, who investigate. They put a lock on my money on paypal. They tell the buyer to send the item back. He refuses. No way to contact anyone live at ebay. Took two months to release my money.

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FAIL

Re: sigh

Have been in exactly the same situation as you. I'd already withdrawn the funds from Paypal, which gave me a negative balance.

Not able to use Paypal to purchase anything when you have a negative balance, all because somebody is trying to scam me.

Nobody at Paypal or Ebay was able to respond to my queries in less than 7 days. Will not be doing business on Ebay or with Paypal again.

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Re: sigh

I don't know where this fear of scams on ebay comes from.

Might be from the scams on ebay. Just a thought.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sigh

" I don't know where this fear of scams on ebay comes from."

Try selling stuff, then. That's who gets scammed, both by buyers and by Ebay, who always side with buyers and are ruthless towards sellers.

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Alert

Re: sigh

It's not just sellers getting scammed - buyers too.

Anecdotal evidence I know, but I paid for something that never arrived and tried emailing and calling the seller. Eventually got Paypal involved and the seller sent Paypal a scan of a postage receipt... for a completely different name+address.

Paypal accepted that as evidence and closed the dispute. That was where my relationship with Paypal and eBay ended. Will never use them again.

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It's simple.

"In any Google search for a well-known brand like eBay, Amazon or John Lewis, that firm's site is going to pop up at the top of search results anyway, so an extra paid ad isn't really necessary."

Oh yeah? Well it might well *become* necessary when Google changes its algorithms to penalize eBay, Amazon, John Lewis (and many others), if they start to think that they don't have to help fund Google's bottom line.

"A spokesperson for eBay told The Reg in an emailed statement that the study wanted to find out why large firms were spending so much money on paid search."

It's not rocket science, for fuck's sake;: the answer is simple: they're stupid and gullible.

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Facepalm

"A Google spokesman ...[said]... the company's own research had different results."

Stop Press: Company that sells advertising says that advertising works, based on a study they did themselves.

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Paris Hilton

Re: "A Google spokesman ...[said]... the company's own research had different results."

We need a Mandy Rice-Davies icon.

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Anonymous Coward

Adblocker is your friend

In your face google!

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Re: Adblocker is your friend

There are adverts on the internet? When did this start?

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Except..

..EBay aren't the only people who can buy the search term eBay and place ads on it. Look for Firefox on Google, the free download links on the top aren't from Mozilla.

You may own "mybrand.com" but if someone else is paying for "mybrand.com" ads they can put whatever they like above you in the search results and that can have an effect on your public image. It's almost like Google have you over a barrel....

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Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

The problem here isn't that eBay bought ads for the term eBay. The problem is no matter what I search for I get ads for eBay. I could search for Global Thermonuclear Meltdown and get ads saying "Buy Global Thermonuclear Meltdown at eBay!" Now I'm assuming they don't have that for sale...

As a result I ignore any ad for eBay on Google. Even if I'm searching for a product that they might actually have on eBay I won't click one of their ads because I'm expecting it to be useless.

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Coat

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

"Buy Global Thermonuclear Meltdown at eBay!"

Now available with free worldwide shipping from North Korea......

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Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

I have had eBay offer to sell me Wales before now.

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Devil

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

'Now available with free worldwide shipping from North Korea......'

Given normal North Korean quality, it would have to be 'for collection only'

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Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

I agree. It seems eBay just went way overboard on their search terms. If you actually click on some super specialized item ad the result is almost always "not found here's some unrelated bullshit you might like".

It seems to me eBay shot themselves in the revenue foot on this too. I would have offered it as a listing upgrade for the seller to get their listing on Google.

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Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

I have had eBay offer to sell me Wales before now.

Reserve not met.

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Coat

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

Sure you didn't mean "Whales?"

Maybe you were on the Japanese section of eBay :)

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Devil

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

Quote; Sure you didn't mean "Whales?"

It has offered to sell me the capitals of two european countries, an island in the Canaries group and a few others like this.

The reason for this is eBay are idiots - they have exported their search term lists which included "location" additions to the search done by people to lazy or clueless to use the eBay distance to seller search facility. That term got dumped into adwords. Of course this will have negative ROI. It would have been surprising if it had given a positive one. Any search for Rome resulted in an eBay ad being displayed (and charged for) "Do you want to buy Rome" (Rome being an example - I had that one with another Eu capital).

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Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

How much were they asking?

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Silver badge

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

@Lockwood: How big was it?

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Joke

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

If the seller's username was something like OsborneGid12, I would not have a problem with this method of reducing the national debt.

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Happy

Re:@Lockwood: How big was it?

One.

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Happy

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

"Global Thermonuclear Meltdown"

Nah: No Ebay links. Facebook are the top two natural search links, and your post is number 9. Even under shopping there's only 1 hit and it's not Ebay.

I'm quite surprised.

Also quite bored at work to be doing this!

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Joke

Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

From a seller called "dearleader3".

You may be right though, his feedback ratings are terrible.

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Re: Maybe if they bought relevant ads?

Best ever example of "you can buy anything on ebay":

http://www.lifeinbits.org/?p=123

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Anonymous Coward

Paid search results

You mean the ones that are supposed to be relevant to what I was looking for, but aren't really?

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Trollface

I thought they dropped the B in eBay to just ebay - or is that just their logo?

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Brands

It strikes me as a bit daft for eBay to broadcast their internal findings on this matter.

It doesn't surprise me at all if eBay has found paid ads don't bring much to the table. However that finding is going to be specific to their circumstances I would suspect. With a brand that is so strong, most people willing to deal in a non-retail environment will automatically think of them.

If they can cut the adspend and still make money - they do it. By by brining this up, all they do is state the obvious and potentially piss off Google*.

*And that is just bad for (any) business.

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Re: Brands

"It strikes me as a bit daft for eBay to broadcast their internal findings on this matter."

Why? They clearly feel Google has misrepresented the effectiveness of advertising and fibbed to them, so why not announce it?

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Facepalm

So you're telling me if I google "ebay" then ebay will be at the top??? if I google some other smaller company name like say "Forbidden planet" that too is the top, not even a paid add too!! How is this news?

What about if I googled online auctions? ebay aren't top then so in this case a paid ad may actually be beneficial!

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too diverse

The thing is that if you are looking for a blue widgety thing, you will search for that. If e-bay then dominate the search for what you are looking for 9i.e. a blue widgety thing) then it is likley they will broker your sale and make fees

The issue here is that as seller of blue widgety things, you are paying eBay a small insertion fee and a comparative small percentage of your turnover. So while you may be making a fat profit of £50 eBay may be making a profit of £2.00.. where it actually cost them £8.00 to advertise the fact that they could assist selling your widgets (not every one who clicked went on to buy

E=bays mistake here is to market too may diverse products (at too high a price) instead of the profitable (for them) products

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Rob
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Coat

Loyal Customer

I'm a loyal customer of some brands so when I see they appear as a paid result, I click on the Ad so that they get value for money with their advertising... I really must go, I took a knock to the head earlier and it's made me feel a bit odd.

Mine's the Gingham dress with Mr. Fibble in the pocket.

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FAIL

Re: Loyal Customer

If you're a loyal customer, clicking the ad links is probably costing them money - they probably get charged per click, and you were going to go to the website anyway.

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Re: Loyal Customer

I do that too :)

In seriousness I do click on ads from some sites I enjoy, so they can keep themselves funded, but I do wonder how much this skews the results for the advertiser...

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Re: Loyal Customer

Don't forget the army boots and blonde braids. I do believe I have a spare set. :)

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AOD
Thumb Up

Re: Loyal Customer

Have a +1 from me for the Dwarfer reference, although Mr. Flibble's very cross his name didn't get spelt correctly.

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FAIL

Well duh...

ebay have such a market dominance, what did they think advertising was going to achieve?

Everyone that wants to buy or sell on an auction site already knows about ebay, there was nothing at all to gain. They migh as well be advertising air...

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Devil

Click throughs costing more than views

If I see a paid for add by a company that I don't like, I click it in a new window, then close it soon after.

As the click costs them much more than just a view.. Even if they are at the top of the "natual" results.

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Re: Click throughs costing more than views

Ditto, but I also delete the cookies that result.

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Anonymous Coward

Sure the returns on advertising decrease as a brand reaches 'defacto' level mind share for any given online activity, but there is also a cost to maintaining that level.

They appear not to have considered this. If ebay is not paying for those placements, it opens them up to competitors that the searcher may not have considered or known before. Leading this searcher to another place to buy a given product.

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since they are the defacto auction site for the internet, why is this a surprise? they dont have the but when compared to... element to benchmark their spend, they have the monopoly anyway and a lot of internet users use the verb to ebay when looking at their crap they want to get rid of.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't pay

And you get demoted

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