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Google Businesses The Internet The Almighty Buck

eBay Sellers Seething Over Targeted Ads 151

Posted by Zonk
from the buck-is-stopping-a-little-short dept.
hoagiecat writes "eBay isn't just an enormous auction site; it's also a publisher of Google and Yahoo targeted ads, which earn eBay money every time a user clicks on them. But those clicks take users to a new page, and lead them away from the auctions — and those who make their living from those auctions are starting to get upset. Is eBay doing the right thing to make some extra cash from the hot advertising market? Or are they cannibalizing their income and hurting the sellers who have been the backbone of their business?"
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eBay Sellers Seething Over Targeted Ads

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  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:24AM (#20912027) Homepage Journal

    Here's how I see it, as a long time EBay user — almost since day one. EBay has a huge problem: They're a public company, and it is not sufficient for them to simply make profits. They must actually grow those profits. This means that no matter how good a model they have — and make no mistake, initially, they had an excellent model — they have to continue to tweak it and push it in search of new and increased income.

    Inevitably, this has lead into areas where the original "goodness" of the model is reduced. As long as profits keep rising, this isn't going to be a sensitive point for EBay, and unfortunately for the current crop of EBay users at any one time, this means that the things they liked about EBay are quite likely to evolve into something else.

    A website like EBay will never be well served by the "we must make MORE profit" model. The best (IMHO) model is one of a software package that never removes or changes a previously existing feature, or moves it. Instead, they add new features, and generally speaking, these are added in ways that don't disturb access to the old features. In this way, the comfort zone of the existing user base is maintained, while the product remains able to grow.

    EBay violates this process constantly, from changing the actual usability of the site, the features available, the rules that underly the selling and buying process, the operation (and therefore validity) of the reputation system, the ability for, and encouragement of, users to communicate with one another directly (without EBay acting as an intermediary), by acting as a mommy figure for various types of transactions it considers immoral, by moving and essentially hiding functionality, by being subsumed by the IRS into a monitoring venue for taxation (not much choice there, in that case, success brought on the problem and you can always count on our legislators to mine everything they can think of for income), by loading the pages with ads, by implementing no-click / not requested by the user pop-up technologies, by consistently escalating fees, by changing developer API's rather than extending them, and so on and so forth.

    From where I sit, EBay was a great idea that has come and gone. When it started, I used it constantly. Today, I rarely buy, and I am even less likely to sell. It isn't a financial issue; I am well able to participate. It is a sense that the site simply isn't what it used to be, a friendly, open confluence of people all over the country. It just feels like a big, cold commercial operation to me. And I can get that feeling at Wal-Mart.

    The answer to the question of if EBay is doing "the right thing" with regard to advertising varies in a polar manner depending on what you're looking at. From the stockholder perspective, the question is simply, does it result in increased income, and surely the answer will be yes. From the user perspective, the question is, does it result in increased usability and the ability to get done what one goes to the site to get done — and I think the answer to that is just as surely a resounding no. But EBay is a company; you know as well as I do what drives them, and it isn't the end user's general feelings of disaffection. They have a continuous supply of new users who have no sense of what the site used to be like, who simply want to "sell stuff", and that'll no doubt fill the holes left by those who brought the site its previous success.

    • Even the insides of your eyelids. Chu Chi [youtube.com] has seen it. It must be done.
      • by An ominous Cow art (320322) * on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:31AM (#20912169) Journal
        There's nothing so good that it can't be ruined by advertising.
      • We need to keep an eye [specsavers.com] on this to ensure [ensure.com] that the practice [shop-4-dvd.com] doesn't spread [kraftfoods.co.uk] to other sites. It could make browsing [microsoft.com] very annoying. [manage-work-stress.co.uk]
      • by StCredZero (169093)
        ebay sellers are complaining because ads are taking their customers away? There's a word for those ads: it's *competition*.

        You want to keep your customers? Then you've got to compete on convenience, price, or with items not available through regular retail channels. I've seen lots of things on eBay for about the same price as in the store. Maybe this won't be as common now.

        If eBay's advertisements are enabling competition and more choices, then it's better for the consumer, which includes me.
    • by kenf (75431)
      So, what will be the next thing to take eBay's place?

      I remember other auction sites years ago, that were put out of business when eBay came along and did it better.
      • Well, for small things I'm really not trying to make a lot of money on, perhaps I'd rather just use freecycle and give the stuff away. If I get a few useful items from other freecyclers, it all works out in the end. No commission to eBay, no tax liability to the IRS. That leaves eBay to the 'professional' sellers trying to make an actual cash profit.
      • Craigslist (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)

        So, what will be the next thing to take eBay's place?

        Craigslist. They're already dominating want ads, which is similar enough to auctions that craigslist could stand a chance of solving the main problem - that ebay has all the users, and thus benefits from the network effect [wikipedia.org]. In order to displace ebay, a challenger will have to be more than just a little better, they'll have to blow ebay away, and somehow bootstrap a big enough user base to be viable. Since craigslist actually runs its service to maxim

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Damvan (824570)
          The last five times I emailed someone on Craigslist about an item they had for sale, the response was to go look at the Ebay auction for the item. Craigslist has become a method for people to advertise their ebay auctions, not actually sell the item directly. In all five cases, the auction was posted before the craiglist ad.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by timeOday (582209)
            I've not had that experience yet, but then the only things I've bought on craigslist have been items that are hard to ship (a used TV and a used bicycle). It sounds like Craigslist needs a requirement that all items advertised must be available for immediate pickup. Craigslist should definitely avoid becoming merely a redundant front-end for ebay.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by puck01 (207782)
            I've noticed people doing this, although I can't say I've had it happen on an item I was interested in. If I remember, it is against the terms of service of craigslist to do this. As with the ads I've noticed doing this, I just click on the 'spam' or 'prohibited' tag. I'm not sure there is much else you can do short of contacting CL directly.
            • by owlnation (858981)
              And although it sucks slightly less than most other classifieds sites, here's the problems with Craigslist...

              Firstly, it's part owned by eBay -- so it's not really in their interests to do anything about it, even though the do have the technology to filter out some of these ads at least.

              Secondly, reporting something to Craigslist is pissing in the wind. Their system does not really work. It relies on a significant number of users flagging off scams -- and that just doesn't always happen, and doesn't h
              • by rs79 (71822)
                Yes Craigslist is partly owned by ebay. Not because Craig wanted it that way. A former partner sold his shares (30% of the company) to ebay and Craig wasn't happy about this, but still retains a majority of them. He doesn't want to become the next big thing and he and the CL community like it the way it is. Sorry that's it's not the nanny state you want or expect, but ya know, caveat emptor and all. Just take reasonable precautions. It's really for local items that you pick up and can see, touch and play w
    • by op12 (830015) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:36AM (#20912235) Homepage

      It is a sense that the site simply isn't what it used to be, a friendly, open confluence of people all over the country. It just feels like a big, cold commercial operation to me. And I can get that feeling at Wal-Mart.

      I think that feeling comes from the fact that you can't search anything without getting a ton of results from stores setup specifically to sell on eBay. There used to just be a handful of these results and then the rest were individuals, but nowadays you just get tons of powersellers and not a lot of the individuals.

      That and I think it has become an increasing problem of people getting defrauded and scammed that has caused people to lose faith in the system. You can find hundreds of eBay and Paypal horror stories on people receiving empty boxes, boxes with other things inside, unable to cancel fradulent transactions without jumping through hoops, etc.

      • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:46AM (#20912399)

        You can find hundreds of eBay and Paypal horror stories on people receiving empty boxes, boxes with other things inside, unable to cancel fradulent transactions without jumping through hoops, etc.
        This is why I only buy from a handful of sites (Amazon, Fictionwise). I simply don't trust the internet enough to buy from too many sources, and I've never bought from Ebay. Not only do I prefer to buy stuff for slightly more money and possibly much better condition, you never know when someone will send you a bad product.
      • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @11:47AM (#20913409)
        That makes me think of search terms I want. I only want to see things from people who have been members for more than a year and average less than one sale per day (or one sale a week, or whatever). Don't give me the places that sell 10,000 cell phone covers that also sell the charger I want. Just give me the links to people that are people. I have found that stores are easier to do returns with (based on conversations with people doing returns with people and stores), but I've never had to do a return with a actual human. Individuals don't buy 500+ games from an auction and sell them individually when many are scratched-up former rentals (and if they did, they'd not show up in my search). The individuals played the game and are selling it in a working condition. Stores are better at resolving problems because they are used to causing problems.

        Oh, and I'd end the feedback blackmail. Count all non-feedback as neutral. But if I'm a buyer and I get screwed, I have the choice of giving bad feedback to warn others (in which case I get retalatory bad feedback, no matter what I did), leaving no feeedback and getting no feedback, or leaving positive feedback and getting posiive feedback. I have no option to leave negative feedback without getting penalized. Though, I haven't had a transaction since the new non-feedback comments can be left.

        It is features like that so skewed to protect the sellers and screw the buyer that it's no longer a site I would buy from if I can find the item anywhere else. And they push paypal, and paypal sucks worse.
      • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @12:42PM (#20914315) Homepage Journal

        boxes with other things inside
        http://www.xkcd.com/325/ [xkcd.com]
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:39AM (#20912271)
      The WalMart reference is apt, since you have the same basic reason to shop there: It's cheaper and/or they have things nobody else does. (The latter reason applies to all stores, though.)

      I only buy on EBay when I can get the item at a significant discount, or I can't find the item at any reputable dealer. At that point, it's worth the potential hassle of having to complain to get your product or money back. And if I get my money back, I -still- have to go find a seller for the product.

      It has to be significantly cheaper because of the time I have ot invest for every item I buy on EBay. After having an issue with a seller (who eventually DID send the phone, but with a picture of himself flicking me a bird and scratches) I now have to do more than just glance at the seller's rep. I -always- read through their negative feedback and see if A) it was deserved B) if they responded and C) if the response was friendly and correct.

      On top of that, I have to be careful to read the auction several times to make sure it isn't a cardboard cutout of item X or a display model or damaged, and that the item is exactly the same as I have been researching elsewhere. Model numbers, part numbers, clones... Most auctions provide all the info, but you have to be very careful not to assume anything. Yes, I got burned on that once, too. I admitted my mistake and whatever the item turned out to be (I've forgotten since it was only a few dollars) is in a box somewhere.

      Returns! They cost money on EBay. The seller isn't going to pay to have it shipped back, that's your money that's going to disappear. In some cases, that might cost as much as the product did. Driving to WalMart costs gas, but not nearly so much as shipping something back to China.

      I still use EBay, but since the prices are generally not significantly less than retail any more, I mainly use it for items that aren't sold at any store that I recognize as reputable. Things like European phones (because they don't need to be unlocked), odd video game accessories (Why doesn't Nintendo sell a charging cradle for the ds lite?) and other such things.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)
        I like to think of it in terms of "The problem with eBay is that it works". That is, it is a fairly well functioning market, so you end up paying market price, so the only reason to go there is the selection, not the auction format. The sooner they realize this and make it a much friendlier experience for casual participants(so, they need to eradicate fraud, not pretend it isn't a problem), the better.
    • Now & Later (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chmcginn (201645) * on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:44AM (#20912365) Journal

      The answer to the question of if EBay is doing "the right thing" with regard to advertising varies in a polar manner depending on what you're looking at. From the stockholder perspective, the question is simply, does it result in increased income, and surely the answer will be yes.
      But there's two different shareholders perspectives. The long-term & the short-term. While putting more ads might make them more money this quarter, if it truly does alienate users, in the long run, it's going to kill their profits. The new users might not know what it used to be like, but if it doesn't result in sales, it's not going to get used.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by krbvroc1 (725200)

        But there's two different shareholders perspectives. The long-term & the short-term.
        IMO, the long-term vision shareholders are a minority in this country so the short-term thinking ones are the ones calling the shots, driving many of the analysts, and overall destroying our capitalist system.

      • Re:Now & Later (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @03:04PM (#20916545) Homepage

        But there's two different shareholders perspectives. The long-term & the short-term. While putting more ads might make them more money this quarter, if it truly does alienate users, in the long run, it's going to kill their profits.

        You make an excellent point.

        However, from what I've been able to see over the last bunch of years ... almost all businesses are looking to maximize profits for this quarter, and they don't have any real clear long-term plan. At least, large, publicly traded companies -- I suspect when the owner still runs the business you see a little longer view.

        Executives get their bonuses now, which is what they want. The reality is, IMO, that so many companies do things which clearly haven't considered long-term profits and the value of corporate good will that one wonders if they even pretend to care any more. Certainly, by the time you've off-shored some of your core business, you no longer really control it as much as you once did. In the long run, some companies are losing profits and the ability to compete because they've cannibalized operations in terms of short term gains. But, by the time it becomes apparent, you no longer have the ability to bring it back under your control.

        By the time the shareholders of the time (there are no long term investors any more) figure out you have screwed up the company, your options have vested, and your golden parachute has taken effect, and you may be gone.

        A very large amount of North American companies have relied on globalization to give themselves improved profits. Now, they find themselves at the mercy of foreign markets (eg China) and absolutely no ability to take back any of their core businesses. They've gutted themselves, they just haven't figured out it was a fatal wound yet. :-P

        Cheers
        • by Chmcginn (201645) *

          Now, they find themselves at the mercy of foreign markets (eg China) and absolutely no ability to take back any of their core businesses. They've gutted themselves, they just haven't figured out it was a fatal wound yet.

          I don't think it's that they can't recover at this point. They would just have to put long-term thinking first for a few years. And that's not going to happen until investors start pushing for long-term over short-term.

          It's not a fatal wound - it's just infected, and taking the time

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by olddotter (638430)
      If you believe that Google links on ebay will take buys away from the auctions, then this is a bad move for both Ebay and their sellers. Ebay makes more money from an auction closing with a winning bid than they are going to get from Google ads.

      If the ads cut sells, then Ebay will lose more money than they gain.
    • by oliderid (710055)
      From the stockholder perspective, the question is simply, does it result in increased income, and surely the answer will be yes.

      It really depends of the stockholder you are. If you are merely speculating then yes, it doesk make sense. If you are investing in Ebay as a long term stockholder...They are destroying values. They are alienating their core customers : pro/semi pro resellers.

      If I sell a Nokia mobile phone, I do want to be alone selling it on my product's page. Can you imagine an competitor's adver

    • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @11:08AM (#20912745) Homepage

      They're a public company, and it is not sufficient for them to simply make profits. They must actually grow those profits.

      Google has the same problem. Having achieved domination of their main market, now what? There's a temptation to enter new markets, but the main market is so good that all the other product lines are less profitable.

      The classic answer is to stop growing and pay dividends. Utility companies and railroads used to do that for decade after decade, once they'd maxed out their industry in their area. But a company that pays dividends and doesn't grow is valued by the market like a bond; the market cap is about 20x the dividend. Google currently has a P/E of 52, and doesn't pay dividends at all. eBay has a P/E of 39, and no dividends. Plus, dividends are taxed twice, once when the company pays them and once as income to the recipient.

      The modern answer is merger and acquisition activity. Most M&A activity is a lose for shareholders, although a big win for management. eBay's is generally considered to have paid far too much for Skype. Then there's buying back stock, which, again, is overall a lose for shareholders, but a win for management with stock options. Stock buybacks don't usually shrink the float; they just compensate for the dilution of options issued.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Plus, dividends are taxed twice, once when the company pays them and once as income to the recipient.

        This statement is more than a bit deceptive.

        A company makes some income. They must pay tax on that income no matter what they choose to do with it. There is no special tax on the company for issuing a dividend.

        If they choose to give it to investors, then those investors pay a tax on those receipts, and this is often referred to as 'double taxation' by tax protesters. But to be clear, there are no special
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Sure there is. It's like any business. Any money you choose to
          "take out of it" will be taxed. That money would not be taxed
          if you chose to just let the business spend it.

          So, for not squandering this money the government first penalizes
          the company for profit taking and then the stockholder for profit
          taking.

          If that same business took all of that money and bought a bunch of
          Hummers, there wouldn't be a tax bill. Infact, they would be able
          to get a tax writeoff on the depreciation of the Hummers.

          The US Tax Code i
      • Google has the same problem. Having achieved domination of their main market, now what?

        Google's business is targeted advertising. They are not done there yet. I think you may be confusing new ways to gather data about us, to profile us, with new business opportunities. Search, browser ad-ons, GMail, web-based apps, mapping and directions, news, etc are all designed to gather more info about us so that they may charge web sites for delivering more optimal ads to our eyeballs.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Here's how I see it, as a long time EBay user -- almost since day one. EBay has a huge problem: They're a public company, and it is not sufficient for them to simply make profits. They must actually grow those profits. This means that no matter how good a model they have -- and make no mistake, initially, they had an excellent model -- they have to continue to tweak it and push it in search of new and increased income.

      Thats the problem with the public company system. In so much they can't see the forest for
    • Applause (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) *

      You have quite well summed up my sentiments regarding eBay. You should tweak it a bit and start a petition and send it to the morons who run the company.

      Like you I am a logn time eBay user, but less and less all the time. As a seller it has become painful to keep up with all the changes (and bugs) they introduce. One particular bug kept charging customers 9.65 for insurance even though I had no insurance amount typed in. It came from some older listing where I saved the listing for a template. The bl

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ivan256 (17499)

      They're a public company, and it is not sufficient for them to simply make profits. They must actually grow those profits.

      That's not technically true. They could pay dividends on their stock to make the value of the stock the payout of dividends, rather than increasing stock price...

      Or they could use their profits to gradually buy back their stock, since they have accomplished what they wanted to with the investment capital to the mutual benefit of the company and the investors.

    • by kklein (900361)
      Indeed. I just sold some stuff after a 2-year hiatus and I made a bunch of mistakes setting things up because so many rules had changed. It really pissed me off.
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Ebay have also made a lot of good changes recently. The more detailed feedback, showing the price of the item sold or bought has been great. Also extra anonymous feedback on delivery times and such. The finally added a little javascript so that when you choose to watch an item, it doesn't have to reload the page. That must have saved them about 20 servers or so.
  • Bad analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T-Bone-T (1048702)
    Is this anything like a shopping mall advertising its stores inside of its other stores, a la Dillard's jewelry ads in the JC Penny jewelry section?
    • that's exactly what it's like. The seller pays for that page as their "space" on ebay. Adding targeted ads for the same product is exactly what you describe above.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:35AM (#20912211) Homepage Journal
    Open in new tab.

    Problem solved!
    eBay, feel free to send me a few millions as a reward. KTHXbye.
    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Seriously, though, eBay should modify the page so that the ad is popped up AFTER the user submits a bid, or if the user decides not to bid, then present the ad. Maybe these ads should be triggered or presented only AFTER the bidder/prospective bidder drills down to a certain depth in the bid. Ad sponsors won't like it, but hey, this DO have placement, which they might not have had previously. So, they still get their "impressions" made.

      But, the UI should first tell the bidder/prospective bidder that a numbe
    • by Kamineko (851857)
      Suddenly, there was crash of thunder... a moment of intense brightness and then everything became dark.

      Moments passed, and a bright red spotlight slowly illuminated around the silhouette of a tall man, his wide, malevolent grin visible in the intense light.

      "You fool!" he boomed, "You had your chance. But now... haha... it is too late."

      Scrameustache awoke, screaming. "What a nightmare!" Scrameustache mumbled, slowly getting out of bed, kicking over a couple of old pizza boxes discarded beside. There was a no
  • it's called middle-click. ff and ie both support it. middle-click the ad and it opens in a new tab. you can view it when you want to view it and focus on the task at hand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Off-topic, but this is the reason I never click on flash ads. Since flash does not respect command-click to open in a new tab, I never know where the link will open, and so I simply don't click. While I occasionally click on plain text ads to see if they are actually offering a good deal, flash ones are simply ignored.
  • by kad77 (805601) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:36AM (#20912247)
    I just added a new eBay account last night, and when setting my user preferences I noticed two settings for targeted ads from ebay. I opted out of each option in one second.

    Sorry to hear this is bothering multitudes of people --- but it is REALLY SIMPLE to disable.

    This is a PEBKAC problem with eBay options.
    • by arivanov (12034)
      Err... For whom? For the seller or for the buyer?
    • by argmanah (616458) * <argmanahNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @11:33AM (#20913205)

      I just added a new eBay account last night, and when setting my user preferences I noticed two settings for targeted ads from ebay. I opted out of each option in one second. Sorry to hear this is bothering multitudes of people --- but it is REALLY SIMPLE to disable.
      You missed the point. The sellers are complaining that by default, this stuff is turned on for the people buying, taking away their business. They aren't bothered by the fact that the ads are on their screen, they are bothered by the fact that the ads hurt business, and since they are paying e-bay to serve as their conduit, e-bay's actions create a conflict of interest.
  • Auctions? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:38AM (#20912259)

    But those clicks take users to a new page, and lead them away from the auctions

    Auctions? eBay still has auctions?

    Maybe, but only if you consider (Reserved Price = $1.99), (Buy It Now ® price = $1.99), (shipping = $17.99) to be an "auction".

    • by phorm (591458) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @11:16AM (#20912911) Journal
      I think ebay loses out on this too, since I don't believe that they profit from the shipping fees amount (it's an expense). You can report sellers for unusually high-shipping, but the reports tool - like much of ebay these days - seems more or less useless as any auctions I've reported (keyword spamming, deliberate inserted in wrong section to gain more hits, overpriced shipping) don't seem to get the sellers or even the auctions in question knocked off. One would think that ebay would realize that these things == lose profit for them, but I guess it hasn't shown on their bottom line yet.

      My big problem at the moment is with sellers who indicate shipping at price X (which seems vaguely reasonable), for example $15. Then, the item arrives in a $1 bubble-padded envelope and the seller pockets the rest. It especially pisses me off because I've had auctions wherein I underestimated the shipping when selling (winner in a far corner of the country that costs more than my blanket price) and lost cash on that, while almost every seller I see is taking in 40% of the shipping price as profit while skimping on the actual delivery.
      • Shipping was a problem for another company you might have heard of: Pets.com.

        When I worked at Pets.com, I wondered why the many Alaska customers were ordering dog food. In fact, I wondered why we had so many customers from Alaska--in every other web-disaster I worked at Alaskan customers were rare.

        They were taking advantage of the free shipping deals Pets.com so often implemented.

        Note to self: free shipping on a 50 lb bag of dog food to Alaska is not a good business model.
  • Who clicks on the ads anyway?
    I mean, except for the people who get paid to click the ads.
    • I'm finding I'm more inclined to click on ads served locally or served by small ad "companies" that specialize in particular topics. I only ever click on Google Ads by accident.
  • It used to be that I could go onto eBay and find a plethora of used computer parts and the like with decent prices. These days it seems eBay consists mostly of store fronts for those "make thousands from your home computer in as little as 5 minutes a day" schemes. I can get mostly the same items at similar prices from Amazon without the hassle. eBay needs to go back to their core business and remove all the fluff.
  • I make my living selling my time clicking on eBay ads. These ads keep moving people off my auction page. How am I supposed to do nothing for a living now. In other news these folks just want a cut of the eBay action. p.s. If your livelihood is resting on a single of which you aren't an employee not changing their business model you need a new business model.
  • All's fair in love and war. Nothing they are doing is illegal, and, like all businesses, ebay and those making a living off of it must plan for changes and disaster to come. While, this may or may not be an ethical tactic, it is something that should have been expected since the internet has been evolving into a massive marketing campaign. Not to mention, the sellers still have control of putting together content keeping the user on the page. If I had a nickel for every auction I saw that was a cut an p
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:50AM (#20912461) Homepage
    Look not every thins SHOULD be sold by auction.

    There are basically two good reasons to go to an auction instead of a regular internet store:

    1. The item you desire is hard to find and you can not find a regular internet store that sells it. This is one of the reasons why art and antiques are often sold at auction. Also what happens when a hot toy (Wii, PSP, etc.) comes out in limited quantities. Typically what happens here is that the seller puts in a minimum price, which is often more expensive than a fair price would be if the item was in reasonable supply (see Wii, etc. early sales). Here you are willing to pay more money because you can not find it on a regular store.

    2. You wish to save money and believe the auction site will sell it to you for cheaper.

    Now, stop and think about the ads. Let's do issue #2 first. If the guy is trying to save money, then unless he was an idiot, he already checked the commercial sites and is NOT interested in them. He will NOT look at the ads and will NOT click on them. He has already seen them and wants to get it for cheaper. So it is a non-issue for them. Also, the very nature of the fact that it IS being advertised means Issue #1 is NOT PRESENT. Chances are you could have found the item easily enough by doing a google search anyway, because hey, it was being heavily ADVERTISED, by the same people that run internet searches.

    So the ebay auction sellers that are upset because they are losing people were in fact ripping them off. They were trying to sell things for MORE than they were worth by using an auction instead of trying to get a fair price. They were falsely trying to pretend the item was in short supply when it was not.

    Was it illegal? No. Unethical? Well, let's say it is on the shadier side of the street.

    The only time they ever lose a sale is if the buyer was a moron and they were trying to get this idiot to pay more from them for more than the item was worth. Sorry people, Ebay is NOT in the business to help you rip off fools. They are as much out their to help the buyers as to help the sellers, and you are basically complaining about ebay being fair to the buyers.

    • Also remember the other things that ads can do. For example, were I to buy an XBox 360 on ebay, one of the text ads could lead me to a site that sells accessories and games that I'd want. It's a win win at that point.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)
        but the auction page is the sellers AD that they PAY FOR!!! Ebay has lots of other space to advertise on, but the auction page "belongs" to the seller. Another poster mentioned a mall selling ads inside competing stores..that they rent to sell stuff. How is this different?
    • by bcattwoo (737354)
      You apparently have a very broad definition of "crook". I wasn't aware that trying to sell something for more than it is available elsewhere was somehow crooked or a ripoff. How unethical it is for the grocery store not to tell me that that can of beans is $0.10 cheaper down the street.

      If the buyer is too lazy to look elsewhere then they will probably end up paying more than necessary. However, I have a real problem believing that someone who can figure out how to use their computer and navigate to eBay wou
    • Sorry people, Ebay is NOT in the business to help you rip off fools.

      What? That's EXACTLY the business that eBay is in. They charge sellers for selling. The more the sellers sell for, the more eBay makes. The ENTIRE business is getting sellers to sell as many things as possible at as high a price as possible.

      Well, at least until they added ads.

      I think eBay is being dumb here, because they get paid when sellers sell stuff. Ads don't just compete with the seller selling things, they compete with eBay gett
  • by wherrera (235520) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:54AM (#20912509) Journal
    If I am trying to see what my maximum bid should be and I follow a targeted ad which shows me a retailer selling that same item for $50 with $5 shippping, then I know the total of maximum bid and seller's shipping should be less than $55. If the seller does not like this, they should be sure they can compete. If the ad were to get in the way of my viewing the auction, then I'd complain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Bitman (95493)
      Agreed. If Sellers are getting hurt by this, it's because the sellers are charging too much or expecting too much.
      If I'm on eBay and see an ad for something at the same price or lower than what I'd expect to pay on eBay, I will go to the non-eBay site. 100% of the time.
    • So I can go to Best Buy and pass out Walmart ads next to the items being sold... right...
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        If Wal-Mart paid Best Buy to put the fliers there, then Best Buy wouldn't be the one complaining. The person complaining is Best Buy's distributor that sees lower sales as Wal-Mart's distributor makes more sales, but Best Buy makes *more* money with ads from Wal-Mart in the store.
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        It's kind of like Best Buy's property manager (to whom they pay rent) coming in and posting fliers for Wal-mart, K-Mart, Circuit City, etc., and the property manager getting paid by the other companies to do so.
  • Switch to an alternative. QXL, Ebid, CQout etc.
     
  • I didn't even know that eBay had targeted ads now, but who cares? It's not like people have any other auction site to go to. Sure, sellers can complain that people are sent away by ads, but if the auction is good, the buyers will return.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @11:06AM (#20912721)
    If you don't like eBay's policies, the way they take down legal items too far quickly when certain large companies complain, the way they revoke accounts with no legal backing for it, the way they only accept PayPal for electronic payment, their ever higher fees, the difficulty in getting help from them, the way they won't even list some legal items (e.g. concert tickets), the way...

    One would think that a better competitor without many of the above problems could come along and steal eBay's business. What was once innovative with them has become old, rigid, formalized, and preying too often on some of their best sellers. Don't think that an alternative can't come along.

  • I wonder if this is a non-issue. I've been using eBay for years and honestly, I haven't noticed the ads. Literally. If you'd asked me earlier today if eBay has these ads, I'd have said no.
  • E-Bay auction services have been lauded from the beginning as approximating as nearly as possible a perfectly competitive market. Competition, keep in mind, at least in the American model, is not for the benefit of sellers and suppliers, but rather is to the benefit of consumers, maximizing consumer surplus by creating price competition. To the extent that Google ads increase this competition, they realize the end that made E-Bay so great in the first place. Presumably, to whatever extent Google ads do driv
    • by vux984 (928602)
      The only thing that really cuts against this is that ads could be misleading

      Them I'm sure they'll fit right in.

      I'm sure they'll be less misleading than a lot of auctions though, and probably fewer will be outright scams.

  • This just blows my mind, so ebay spends millions attracting customers, building its site, gaining sellers, advertising everywhere, all for ONE goal, to get a buyer on their site to make them some money. Now why on earth would they send those buyers away to another sale site, when they could translate them into a sale? Instead of putting any external ad or link, they should be putting an internal one.
    • by mochan_s (536939)

      If an item does not sell, the seller will probably list it again giving more money to eBay. (Most of the time, for small items, the listing fees are higher than sale fees).

  • by riceboy50 (631755) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @12:48PM (#20914433)
    In the last few years I have rarely been able to find products I am shopping for at less than retail prices on eBay unless they are damaged. The only reason I would even look on eBay anymore is if I was desperate to find something that was unavailable through other channels.
    • In the last few years I have rarely been able to find products I am shopping for at less than retail prices on eBay unless they are damaged.

      Disclosure: I used to make a significant my living off of a company selling things on eBay up until recently. I've sold (or tried to sell) pretty much everything you can imagine on eBay from beenie babies to a Lear jet (no joke) and everything in between.

      The only things that are retail price are new in box items that have not been on the market long enough for a second

  • I got scammed on EBay. The scammer had 200 positive feedbacks, no negative. They hacked some legit seller's account. I was one of 20 who got scammed before the negative feedback flood showed up. I got absolutely no help from EBay, just sympathetic "we can't do anything about it" e-mail. Therefore I no longer use EBay and I recommend anyone who does not want deal with scammers stay away from EBay. Friends attempting to sell on EBay have been getting nothing but scammer offers. EBay is dead to me. Viv
  • I figure their ought to be a configuration setting that you can choose/unchoose to allow targeted ads on your storefront. Also, if you choose to accept, they should pay you an amount that you specify for each ad. Of course, if they don't like that amount, they can always choose not to advertise on your storefront.
  • The targeted ads are a problem; eBay acts as an auction house and those aren't places where advertising is customary or expected. It's correctable at small effort, though - you can turn off targeted ads in your preferences. That won't eliminate the ads, though - just the targeting.

    (Insert ad here:) Get Firefox with the AdBlock plugin!

    The thing they're doing now that is starting to annoy me are the ads that they insert into the navigation. Click on My eBay, get a full page ad. Click on the obscure link i

  • Someone posted this link [mvps.org] to Slashdot recently so I checked it out, I found it's very good at blocking ads for what it is, just a hosts file.
    Using the hosts file they provide I don't see external adverts on eBay anymore, just this in place of where the advert would be displayed:

    Action canceled
    Internet Explorer was unable to link to the Web page you
  • eBay makes it money by increasing the optimality of resource allocation and then taking a cut of the surplus from that increase. Increases in well presented information cause the market to behave more like basic economic theory predicts. It increases market efficiency. Adding targeted ads is simply another way of taking a slice from increase in allocation efficiency. It fits perfectly into their business model, but they are getting a smaller piece of that pie by outsourcing the ad sales and ad placement.
  • craigslist

    there

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