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Promoted Listings & advertising on eBay: essential information (Q&As)

This article includes essential information about eBay Promoted Listings and how the service works. The information is presented in the reader-friendly form of questions & answers.

Currently more than 940,000 sellers use eBay’s Promoted Listings on over 250 million listings (eBay, 2019). With around 1.3 billion listings on eBay, many sellers find advertising necessary to boost their product visibility. To stand out from the competition and sell products online successfully, occasionally sponsoring a product is no longer enough in many eBay categories.

The following post includes essential information about:

  • eBay Promoted Listings & ad campaign set-up
  • eBay’s advertising model, ad costs & eligibility requirements
  • How to invest in Promoted Listings, the eBay advertising plan in a nutshell & more.

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Promoted Listings: essential information (Q&As)

What are Promoted Listings on eBay?

Promoted Listings are ads or sponsored items that allow sellers to increase their product visibility and sales. They’re displayed in top places on eBay and may also appear in search results. eBay will pull the seller’s promoted listing based on its relevance to the search and the going ad rate.

What are the benefits of Promoted Listings?

eBay’s Promoted Listings claim to boost visibility by over 30%. They can be effective in the following circumstances:

  • If you offer products at similar prices to your competitors and your pricing doesn’t stand out, promotion can prevent your listings from being pushed down.
  • If you sell seasonal items (e.g. Halloween gadgets) and want to keep their sales up outside peak sales seasons.
  • If you have great products that attract no traffic or conversions: the problem may be high-volume, saturated searches (competition for listing visibility can be tough).

What is eBay’s advertising model (PPC, PPI, PPS)?

Promoted Listings are a pay-per-sale model (PPS), which is simpler and less risky than pay-per-impression (PPI) or pay-per-click (PPC). The seller is charged a fee only if an item sells via a Promoted Listings ad.

In contrast, Amazon Advertising is a PPC service that works in a similar way to pay-per-click ads on Google: sellers pay when shoppers click on ads (regardless of whether or not the item sells).

Where can Promoted Listings appear?

Promoted Listings can appear in the following spots:

  • Top of the search results: if your listing is of high quality and relevance and you bid with a competitive ad rate, your listing has a better chance of showing up at the highest possible spot on the page.
  • Throughout the search results, e.g. in the middle of the results page.
  • On similar product pages.

Your sponsored products will be better positioned in search results and promotions/deals. They’ll also appear more often and with better visibility on similar product pages.

How much does it cost to advertise on eBay?

Promoted Listings cost as much as you’re willing to pay. The ad fee is a percentage of transaction value (excluding shipping) which sellers agree to pay for the advertising.

The fee is calculated by multiplying the seller-specified bid percentage by the final sales price of the listing in the campaign. For instance, if you sell a product priced at 100€ via a Promoted Listing and you are bidding 5%, you’ll pay 5€.

Bid percentage can be set between 1% and 100%. The higher the bid percentage, the more likely the listing will be displayed in eBay buyer search results.

The amount of the bid depends on the current trending ad rate (the average rate for similar items that are currently promoted). Sellers are free to set their preferred bid percentages, but the effectiveness of the bid will depend on the trending ad rate

eBay can show promoted products as sponsored or regular. This depends on which option is higher in the result rankings. If the buyer comes across the item without clicking the ad, there’s no ad fee to pay. eBay may charge the ad fee if a sale occurs within 30 days of a buyer clicking on an ad.

What are eligibility requirements for promoting listings on eBay?

  1. Promoted Listings are currently available in selected countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
  2. Only items with a fixed price (not Auction or Auction-Buy-It-Now) and multiple-quantity can be promoted.
  3. Ads are available in most categories, but certain types of products, like motors or real estate, are excluded.
  4. For sellers, conditions vary per site, but usually a store subscription and/or good sales history (seller ranking) are required.
  5. API: to programmatically manage ad campaigns and promote listings, sellers need the OAuth2 token to be connected and must accept the Terms & Conditions of eBay Marketing API on each site.

Do you need ads on eBay?

You may or may not need ads on eBay. For example, some items or search terms may be very popular. Consider the game Minecraft. The search results include over 30,000 individual listings, which makes it extremely hard for a listing to stand out. In such cases promotion can come to the rescue.

eBay Promoted Listings Minecraft

On the other hand, listings of unique, rare or hard-to-find products will probably be visible without any extra effort. No ads required.

quote icon
ecommerce expert caroline 01
Sometimes sellers must put in more advertising effort. Another time products can sell relatively easily with no (excessive) ad spend. Advertising activities should be adjusted accordingly.
Caroline Ohrn, Product Director at Webinterpret

Ads on marketplaces positively impact product page views, transactions and revenue. In general, they’re very effective for a short boost in sales. However, an effective long-term advertising strategy is a completely different thing. For example, the level of competition depends on the time of the year, seasonal events such as Black Friday, and so on.

How should you advertise on eBay?

Your eBay advertising plan in a nutshell:

  1. Do your research to decide whether or how to invest in Promoted Listings.
  2. Estimate your ad budget.
  3. Set up your goals. For example, do you want to drive more sales or improve brand awareness?
  4. Select the right products to advertise. Your most popular products along with competitive prices have the biggest potential for sales conversions.
  5. Create clear, concise and persuasive product pages. Include accurate and descriptive titles, keywords, useful and relevant product information and high-quality images.
  6. Plan, act and test what works & what doesn’t.
  7. Track your progress and measure relevant metrics. Optimize your listings accordingly.

A well-thought-out advertising strategy is a must. Unfortunately, many sellers aren’t familiar with the so-called rules of the game or find it too time-consuming to understand how advertising on eBay really works. This way they can lose both paid and organic traffic.

How to invest in Promoted Listings?

Ad investment involves serious and strategic allocation of funds. There are many questions that are not always easy to answer, for example:

  • What ad rate should I choose to get the best possible ROI?
  • How to bid?
  • Is the rate recommended by eBay the optimal choice for me? How about lower rates?

To find answers to such questions, Webinterpret conducted a series of experiments in 2019 & 2020.

The subject of the analysis was the relationship between ad expenses (ad rate) and sales increase and its impact on Promoted Listings’ bidding strategy. In the experiments, we analyzed the performance of Promoted Listings on international eBay markets.

Our tests showed that with ad rates recommended by eBay, Promoted Listings can cost you 2-3 times more while not bringing additional revenue. Check out our study to find out more by downloading our Promoted Listings Guide.

How to set up Promoted Listings?

To set up Promoted Listings, create ad campaigns through Seller Hub or API. Indicate which of your listings you want to promote and create ads for those listings. The campaign starts on a specified day. Sellers can also specify an end date or keep it running indefinitely.

There are five basic steps to setting up Promoted Listings:

  1. Visit your Promoted Listings dashboard inside the Seller Hub https://ebay.com/sh.
  2. Click “Create a new campaign”.
  3. Select individual listings or multiple listings in bulk. To learn more about the bulk option, watch the YouTube video Promoting Your Listings In Bulk.
  4. Apply an ad rate: the up-to-date trending rate is displayed below each ad rate toggle. To the right you’ll find the total price you’ll pay for your Promoted Listing if the product sells.
  5. Name your campaign to track its progress later & launch it.

There are 2 types of campaigns set up through API:

  1. Rule-based: sellers specify which items should be automatically added for promotion based on a combination of brands, category IDs, item conditions and the minimum and maximum prices of the listings to be promoted; sellers choose an ad rate (the same for all products within the campaign).
  2. Item-based: sellers specify products from their inventories for advertising. They can set different ad rates for each product (eBay provides recommended rates based on similar promoted products); sellers can add listings to a campaign one at a time or in bulk.

eBay Promoted Listings campaign create

After configuring the campaign’s structure, identify the listings you want to include in the campaign. eBay recommends which listings you should promote.

Products that are bestsellers, moderate sellers, seasonal items or new listings have the biggest potential for sales conversions.

Promoting “poor converters” or “slow sellers” is unlikely to result in more sales and may be a waste of traffic. Try to optimize your slow sellers before doing any promoting.

Conclusion

eBay Promoted Listings’ advertising model is seller-friendly and reduces the risk of wasting money. This contrasts with Amazon Advertising or Google Ads that require sellers to pay for traffic acquisition even if it doesn’t result in sales.

Finding a balanced bidding strategy is the key. Applying ad rates recommended by eBay may bring the biggest sales, but due to ad costs, this may not be the best return on investment.

Webinterpret’s ecommerce solution helps sellers leverage ads on both domestic and many international markets. With access to comprehensive data and vast ecommerce knowledge, we can help merchants tap into their actual sales potential to achieve the best possible ROI.

eBay Promoted Listings Guide: free download

Download the full eBay Promoted Listings guide!

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