The idea of paying more for the promise of better visibility on eBay is not a new one. After all, eBay already offers various listing upgrades to catch the attention (and hopefully, wallets) of buyers.
Promoted Listings is a step above this, placing paid listings in prominent positions around the site in the hopes of improving sales. The service works on a commission structure, with eBay only charging a seller when an item is purchased.
The idea is simple but the implementation is a little more complicated than it initially seems – read on to understand why.
How Promoted Listings work
Sellers choose the listing they want to promote, select an ad rate (the amount they are willing to pay if an item is sold) and then launch their advertising campaign.
The Promoted Listing then may appear on in specific areas on the search results page and view item pages. ‘May’ is an important word here, as a few different factors are taken into account when eBay decides which Promoted Listings should be visible to buyers.
To start a Promoted Listings campaign, a seller must set an ad rate for each item. This ad rate is a percentage between 1% to 20% of the sale price, excluding shipping and sales tax. When choosing an ad rate, sellers should consider how much they are willing to pay to promote an item and also how much of an edge they want to have over the competition.
Since late 2020, eBay.com users have been provided with suggested ad rates when creating Promoted Listing campaigns. This replaces the trending rate that was used prior.
Top tip: The ad rate is charged in addition to other eBay listing and selling fees but is only billed once an item has been sold.
Top tip: Ad rates can be changed during a Promoted Listing campaign. In the instance of an item being sold after a price change, eBay will charge the ad rate that was in effect when the ad was originally clicked by the buyer.
Other factors that influence appearance of Promoted Listings
In addition to the ad rate, the relevance of the item to the buyer’s search and previous sales figures are taken into account when eBay determines whether a Promoted Listing should appear. This means that Promoted Listings work best for items that consistently sell already, but are featured low in the search results due to competition.
Top tip: The Best Match ranking of the original listing does not influence whether the Promotional Listing is shown to a buyer or not.
What do Promoted Listings look like?
Promoted Listings appear as the fourth and fifth listing within the search results page, on the bottom two results on the search results page, and on the view item page. The actual listing looks very similar to regular listings with the featured photo, listing title and price all included.
For transparency, Promoted Listings feature a ‘Sponsored’ strapline above the item information. This informs the buyer that the seller has paid to be featured.
Top tip: A Promoted Listing and original (non-Promoted) listing can appear on the same results page.
Top tip: Sellers are not charged for sales that do not come through the Promoted Listing.
Who can use Promoted Listings?
At the time of writing, all active eBay Store subscribers in the US, UK, Germany and Australia are able to use Promoted Listings. Store subscribers in Canada are currently able to use the promoted listing service on eBay.com; a Canadian (eBay.ca) version will be launched sometime in summer 2017.
Each quarter, Anchor Store subscribers receive a free $25 credit for Promoted Listings The amount is credited as soon as an Anchor Store subscriber starts using the Promoted Listing feature. As of April 1st, Top Rated Sellers are also eligible for a free credit – $25 each quarter.
eBay claims that Promoted Listings will boot item visibility by up to 30%. This statistic is based on 40,000 listings measured in May/June 2016 for sales before and after using Promoted Listings. In theory, more visibility should lead to more sales.
No upfront costs
Ad rates are only billed when an item sells. This means that sellers only pay for advertising after a successful transaction. Compared to many types of traditional advertising with upfront costs (think billboards, magazines TV commercials, classifieds), this appears to be a fairer deal for sellers.
Access to monitoring data
Selling performance of items with Promoted Listings can be accessed and analysed via the Promoted Listings dashboard. Metrics such as impressions (how many times the ad appeared), clicks and sales are recorded and presented in reports, useful to see how effective the advertising campaign was.
The Promoted Listings feature uses already existing listings to create adverts, thereby keeping the set-up process quick and simple. The advertising campaign starts as soon as a seller has chosen the listing they want to promote and set the ad rate.
Not all listings are eligible
The Promoted Listings service is currently only available for listings in selected categories. There is no evidence yet that eBay intends to extend Promoted Listings to other categories at a later time.
No guarantee of placing
eBay have made it clear that starting a Promoted Listing campaign does not guarantee when or where (or even if) the ad will run. Listings that have been promoted appear in several different places across eBay, but sellers have no idea which of these placings an ad will get.
Not appropriate for all sellers
Popular items with lots of competition benefit most from Promoted Listings as the service enables them to stand out within a crowded marketplace. Sellers offering specialist products (that are easily found using the eBay search) will not find much use for Promoted Listings.
For sellers keen to stand out in a crowded marketplace of popular items, Promoted Listings offers a chance to appear higher in the search results. The commission structure offers a great way for sellers to experiment with Promoted Listings without any financial investment if an item doesn’t sell. The service is, however, not for everyone due to the eligibility limitations.