Experienced eBay sellers will remember those great days when eBay offered a Featured Listing Upgrade, which basically meant that for £14.99 you could buy your way to the top of eBay’s search results (featured listings worked in a similar way to how they are on Gumtree – you were featured above normal listings if you paid the fee).
Not surprisingly it became hugely popular and demand reached such a high level that eBay had to abandon the idea. Why they didn’t just increase the price to filter out sellers is beyond me – after all that’s basic economics…
Anyway, fast forward to 2016 and it seems that eBay are trying out a new form of paid listing upgrade, called Promoted Listings.
Once again they seem to be borrowing heavily from Amazon and their Sponsored Products, which is an extremely common theme recently, with product reviews and product identifiers, particularly since eBay’s split from PayPal.
But unlike Amazon’s system, which utilises cost per click pricing akin to Google’s AdWords program, the fee for eBay’s promoted listings is based on the value of the item for sale and you only pay once it’s sold.
In some ways this commission model might be more suitable for some sellers, though on first impressions I prefer the tried and trusted pay per click pricing – simple because it’s easier to scale and grow your campaigns.
But let’s take a closer look at exactly how Promoted Listings work before we come to any conclusions.
Promote Your Listings Explained
The process to start promoting a listing is incredibly simple:
1. Create your programme – choose the listings you want to promote and give some basic info to eBay.
2. Set your ad rate – choose what percentage of the final sale price (not including shipping) you want to allocate as your ad rate. This has to be between 1 and 20%.
3. Name your campaign and select your start and end dates.
4. Start promoting!
And that’s it! Your promoted listing will now be shown “in prominent locations on eBay where buyers are actively shopping for related items.” To be more precise, promoted listings will appear at the bottom or right hand side of the search results page for desktop usage and on mobile devices, they’ll appear at key positions within the search results.
This means more views, more click-throughs, more sales, and ultimately – more profit.
One of the best things about this system is that you only pay once a sale is made – so there is no fee taken upfront.
Of course the big question is how much to set as your ad rate? We want to pay as little as possible, but spending less will obviously result in less promotion so it’s important to try and strike a balance.
One good way to gauge what sort of percentage you should be putting towards your campaign is to check eBay’s weekly promoted listings ad rate trends page. This basically tells you the average ad rate for each category that week, so you know what others sellers are spending and can adjust your campaigns to suit.
But also bear in mind that your chosen ad rate is not the only factor that will determine how often your ads are shown. It also depends on the relevance of your item to a buyer’s search and how well your listing was selling before the promotion.
What this means is that a) your listing will only be promoted when buyers are searching for an item like it, or at least something similar, and b) that the sell-through rate of your listing will also play a big part.
So what this tells us is that promoting a listing will work best when it’s a popular product that is already making a decent amount of sales… rather than something you can use to kick-start a lagging listing.
In fact eBay themselves pretty much confirm this:
“Recommend sellers choose items to promote that are in demand and are being listed by many sellers simultaneously, e.g. selfie sticks. These listings will have the highest chance of selling when they are promoted to more buyers.”
They even go on to say that “this type of promotion isn’t as successful for rare items, collector’s items, or limited edition items.”
And if you think about it this does actually make a lot of sense. After all if a buyer searches for a highly specialist product, which you already have a listing for, then there’s really very little need to promote it to them, as they’ll most likely see it anyway.
Whereas with a very popular item with loads of competition, your listing might sell well when people actually see it, but the problem is it’s on the 5th page of search results! In this case promoting it makes perfect sense as you can increase the number of views it gets without having to climb eBay’s Best Match algorithm.
This actually brings me on to two very important points – firstly, do you have to pay the promotion fee when your item sells, regardless of whether or not the buyer found your listing via an ad?
Thankfully the answer is NO! All sales you make via regular search results are not charged the promote your listing fee.
And secondly, how does promote your listing affect your listing’s search rankings under eBay’s Best Match algorithm?
Once again the answer is good – sales gained through your promoted listings also have a positive impact on your listing in Best Match and “there is no negative impact from promoted listings on Best Match.”
Knowing this, you could use promote your listings in combination with my price increase strategy to get those crucial first sales in for a new listing and really climb eBay’s search rankings first.
From what I’ve read, this could be the perfect way to utilise this new system although we of course don’t have any concrete data on how your listing will perform after you stop promoting it.
But before you run off to start your own campaign, at the moment Promote Your Listings is still in beta and only available to select shop owners who have been invited to trial it. However I am seeing a lot more of these promoted listings, so eBay have most likely expanded their test phase recently, and will roll the program out to all shop owners some time this year.
I for one am very excited for that, so that I can test it thoroughly and see what results are achievable!
If you have any experience with promoted listings, or would just like to share your thoughts, then I’d love to hear from you so please post below in the comments section below.
Otherwise, until next time!
All the best,