It’s helpful to think of eBay as an advertising platform. All users learn to create a listing that will appear in search, or in other algorithmic content, that will be compelling for buying to click on and purchase. Nearly everyone can grow into Promoted Listings - increasing their visibility within organic results, or various promotional tools to increase conversion. When sellers get bigger, theoretically, they could grow into the display ads program if not outright page sponsorship.
My first involvement with our first party ads platform was to help our existing display ads grow - creating a more compelling template, increasing distribution, and eventually rebuilding the campaign management tool so that brands and sellers who have access to this program can build their businesses on eBay. This is, generally, a far more attractive proposition for eBay users, and eBay itself, than continuing to run what we consider third party ads – the ads most people think of when you say ‘online advertising.’
With all of that said, there’s a huge jump between a seller who wants to promote individual listing, and an advertiser who can engage with our managed service.
So, we’re building a product that’s accessible to lots of GOOD sellers - not all sellers. And while large sellers and brands want self-service, there biggest number of sellers missing out today are small/medium business. Most of these sellers explicitly say they want to focus on sourcing, selling and shipping their inventory - not finding stock art and writing headlines. We’re creating a product where they tell us what inventory they want to promote, how much they want to spend, and when/how to spend it, and we’ll build the ads, automate the targeting, and manage landing pages. Eventually we’ll integrate a version of it into the managed service with full customization and moderation flows, and provide hooks from our B2C toolset so sellers can do things like advertise special promotions with a only a few clicks.
We’ll consider this successful if we have sellers from all categories using this tool regularly and repeatedly a seller with a growing business and a seller who can meeting the requirements for our managed services, even after reducing the overhead. To further grow our ads ecosystem, we focused on self-service tools next. For this to be a success, we needed to focus on what sellers are best at – creating compelling listings, not designing marketing banners – and automating the targeting, banner creation, and the rest.
Besides the financial goals, we’ll consider this successful if we have sellers from all categories using this tool regularly and repeatedly and we never drive a bad buyer experience from our banner - since all ads should be from good sellers with good inventory.
What’s the only thing less popular than third party banners? Video ads. Given a clean slate though, a successful video ads launch would likely reduce the need for additional banner elsewhere on eBay. With that in mind, I set out to define a user-positive video experience.
Video itself isn’t the problem. YouTube, Netflix, and countless other video delivery platforms are loved by their users. The problem is that, in the context of any shopping experience - a banner ad is distracting, and a video banner even more so. My team’s challenge is to define that context and create a proposal that would define what Video on eBay could be - and how we could make a positive user experience that happened to be an advertisement.
Most video ads break every rule of a good experience. They’re impolite and intrusive. They don’t follow basic rules of usability. They don’t complement the experience. Instead of trying to force an existing ad product into submission, we proposed a product that focused on the strengths of high quality video and the promise of eBay shopping, packaged to appeal to the brands and advertisers who wanted to grow their presence on eBay.
We also defined a few buckets of video - heroic, information, and attractive - and how they would integrate into a shopping-first experience. After all, eBay is a platform to connect buyers and sellers - so at the end of the day, all of our video ads should focus on encouraging and completing that transaction.