eBay’s ‘Promote Your Listings’, rip off or sales strategy? You decide.

For the past three weeks I have been testing the ‘Promote Your Listings’ advertising service offered by eBay. It’s still in BETA mode which means that you can only currently use the service if you’re randomly selected and receive an invitation.

So, first, let me quickly explain what it’s all about. Basically, eBay are promoting this as a new way to showcase your products. They say that it’s particularly useful for items that are popular and in demand but have lots of competition. This is due to the fact that by using the promoted search facility, your item will be more heavily promoted and appear more often in the search results over your competitors who potentially aren’t promoting their listings. So, they say, it’s a potential ‘sales booster’.

Does eBay’s ‘Promote Your Listings’ pay for itself?

Now, whilst it’s free to actually start a campaign, you, as the seller will be charged a fee if your item sells following a click through via one of your promoted ads. You can set your own percentage that you will pay if your item sells and this is between 1% and 20% of the final selling price. For example, if you set your percentage to 10% and sell a product for £9.99 via a promoted listing you will pay eBay £1.00.

But wait. Isn’t this doubling your fees? You will already pay a final value fee (typically 10%) to eBay when your item sells, then you’ll pay another 10% if it sells from a promoted listing. So, are you actually paying a 20% final value fee? Absolutely yes, that’s why you have to decide carefully whether eBay’s ‘Promote Your Listings’  service is right for you, so ask yourself:

  • Does your product have enough real competition to make promoting it worthwhile?
  • What kind of increase in sales do you expect to see?
  • Does your product have enough margin in it to make promoting it viable?
  • Are you comfortable with paying a premium to get your products seen?

That last one is a bit of a sticking point for me! Should you really have to use a premium service like ‘Promote Your Listings’ to pay to get the visibility that your listings should enjoy anyway, presuming you’ve got an in demand product and a keyword rich title?

My view is that in highly competitive categories, yes, it may well be worth pushing for the extra visibility, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize in all other areas too – for example, making sure your best match keywords are super relevant.

Anyway, I said earlier that I had received an invitation to try this out and I was curious as to whether it would actually have any impact on my sales so I have been trialing the promotion for the past three weeks on five of my listings.

I chose to pay a fee of 10% on any items I sold through the ‘Promote Your Listings’ promoted ads – which incidentally do appear in the search results labelled as ‘promoted’ so there is no secrecy from eBay, and buyers (and sellers) are easily able to spot if you’re paying for extra visibility – but I have to say that so far I’m deeply disappointed with the results.

I’m quite shocked to report that I really haven’t seen an increase in sales compared to when I wasn’t ‘promoting’ listings. Bear in mind that eBay’s ‘Promote Your Listings’ service is still in BETA mode too so fewer sellers are actually using it right now, meaning less competition from other ‘promoted listings’. And the thing is, once it’s released fully, every seller might decide to promote their listings and so where does that leave us? Right back at square one with promoted listings competing against one other and us paying double fees for the privilege.

The jury is still out on this one I think. I’m going to give it another week and see what happens as perhaps I haven’t allowed a long enough test period, but in my opinion, in it’s present format, eBay’s ‘Promote Your Listings’ service is simply not worth it right now and they haven’t wowed me as I thought they would.

Have you tried it? I would be very interested to hear from you if you’ve seen a dramatic increase in sales and what your experience has been like – please let me know.