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eBay Sellers Seething Over Targeted Ads

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the buck-is-stopping-a-little-short dept.

Google 151

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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It isnt' a simple question (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912027)

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.

All surfaces and links will become advertising. (2, Informative)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912103)

Even the insides of your eyelids. Chu Chi [youtube.com] has seen it. It must be done.

Re:All surfaces and links will become advertising. (4, Insightful)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912169)

There's nothing so good that it can't be ruined by advertising.

You gotta ask the Ebay users. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20912323)

Let's get serious here . . . are Ebay users so stupid that they actually click on advertisments?!?

Re:You gotta ask the Ebay users. (2, Funny)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912409)

These tend to be people who will pay more for used items than the item costs new. So, yeah.

Re:You gotta ask the Ebay users. (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912777)

Thats hardly a fair comment. The buyers are looking to buy items at the best price, stands to reason that targetted ads are going to appeal to them and indeed from a buyers point of view, the more sources for an item that they are intrested in the better. It's the sellers who are the ones losing out to targetted ads and it's not like they have a choice to prevent potential buyers from seeing targetted ads.

Re:You gotta ask the Ebay users. (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912857)

They can't be more stupid than eBay when it comes to advertising. A couple of years ago, I tried googling my name and a co-worker's name. For both, there was a sponsored link to eBay with the caption 'buy {name}! Get {name} on eBay!' Sadly, there wasn't one of me on sale, and so I had to finish work for myself.

Re:You gotta ask the Ebay users. (1)

Zerimar (1124785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914807)

Recall the riff with Google a few months ago killed a lot of those useless ads.

Re:You gotta ask the Ebay users. (3, Funny)

courtarro (786894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915817)

With names like Viagra von Penis Enlarger and Porn McWeight-Loss, you and your coworker should have seen it coming!

Re:All surfaces and links will become advertising. (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913177)

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]

Competition is GOOD (2, Insightful)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913385)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

kenf (75431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912111)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913181)

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 (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914043)

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 maximize value for users instead of shareholders (and it's not just talk - craigslist's behavior utterly confounds Forbes [forbes.com] ), and could bootstrap from their want ads business, they might be able to do it.

Re:Craigslist (2, Interesting)

Damvan (824570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915161)

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:It isnt' a simple question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20912151)

eBay needs to find some way to recoupe the costs they are going to incur for all their security breaches...

Re:It isnt' a simple question (5, Insightful)

op12 (830015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912235)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (4, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (4, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914119)

I don't go to Ebay to save $1 on something I can buy at Target or Amazon. I go there to buy things that aren't for sale locally or online. There's no other realistic choice if I want those things.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (5, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (4, Funny)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914315)

boxes with other things inside
http://www.xkcd.com/325/ [xkcd.com]

Re:It isnt' a simple question (4, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:It isnt' a simple question (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913093)

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 (3, Insightful)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912365)

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:It isnt' a simple question (2, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912613)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

oliderid (710055) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912719)

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 advertisement in your own store?



This isn't the first time Ebay makes a big mistake, just remember skype and how far away it was from their core business.



Ebay is ran by financial people. it looks to me that they have no clues about what a customer is and how to respond to his/her need. All they can understand is "easy money". Usually such companies don't exist for long.



Google has the same problem (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912745)

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:Google has the same problem (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20913241)

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 or extra taxes put upon the company because they decided to give away their money.

Re:Google has the same problem (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914327)

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 is real "Brazil" type stuff.

Re:Google has the same problem (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915045)

>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.

I think this is highly dependent on the point of view. Who is "they". The company? The owners? Are the owners the company, or not?

If you view the company as a "being" separate from it's owners, then your model is correct. If you view the company as a "thing" that you bought a piece of, then it is not quite the same.

If you and I (as investors) buy a $50k house and sell it for $100k, then we each make $25k and pay taxes on that. The house itself does not pay taxes on it's increased value before we get our cut.

If we buy a company for $50k, and that company makes $50k it will pay tax on that $50k before it pays us, and then we will pay tax on what's left.

But if we keep the $50k in the company and use it for capital improvements to expand, most of that will come off the company's taxable income (you don't get taxed for money you spend as cost of doing business). We sell our shares of the company for the $100k it's now worth, and we pay taxes on the $25k we each made - the same as if we had invested in the house.

Re:Google has the same problem (2, Insightful)

KTheorem (999253) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915535)

I think this is highly dependent on the point of view. Who is "they". The company? The owners? Are the owners the company, or not?

My view is this: As soon as you can sue the investors instead of the company when the company does something bad, the investors can get their dividends tax-free, since the investors would have paid it already on their income from their share of the company. But as long as they have created a pseudo-person in the form of a corporation to protect themselves from the company's actions, that pseudo-person has to pay it's own taxes.

If the investors don't want to be taxed in addition to the company being taxed, they need to personally accept all responsibility (including possible jail time and fines) for what the company does.

Google is not done profiling us / selling ads (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915051)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913065)

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 the trees and simply destroy a good business model in search of more profit.

The key problem is the the corporate culture pays people to find ways constantly improve rather than attempt to find a status quo in which long term gains are prized over short term.

Try NowSellling.com (1)

ReDRage (1162511) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913099)

I keep saying this. Try NowSelling.com I know it is new and there is not much there.... yet. But there are no ads.

Re:Try NowSellling.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20915107)

What a waste of my life. There are about a half-dozen items on the whole site, some of which are labeled with "test... this isn't real." If it was thinly populated but had potential, I could see why you would suggest this site even with no vested interests, but it's absolutely barren and doesn't appear to even be a finished development project.

So, since you appear to have signed up to Slashdot just to flog something, it's either your site or belongs to someone you know. In other words, get lost, shill.

Applause (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913245)

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 bloat of pages is making it less usable for a person on a slow connection.

I feel, too, the usability has declined from a buyer standpoint. The searches keep coming up with recommended things like (for some definition of "like") what I'm searching for. I have to login when i want to look up what something sold for (why, so they can track what I'm looking for and point out next time who is all selling it so I can buy it? Sometimes I want some idea what an item sells for to decided if I want to sell one, not to buy it.)

As a buyer and a seller research is often necessary. I search to see what same or similar things have sold for to determine what price range I can expect. The concept of Private feedback is completely sick, I can see who uses Private and steer clear of them as sellers. I don't particularly like these people as buyers, either and wish to have the ability to block certain types of bidders. Further the difficulty one encounters trying to find why some seller or buyer has negative feedback is quite a bother, why? To what purpose do you shield bad news about people if you're going to keep it anyway?

Lastly, I really wish I could screen specific sellers. If I'm looking for a telescope I don't want to see anything from Taximarket -- nothing personal, but they're catering to the low end of the market and flood the listings with GREEN, SILVER, BLUE, whatever colour telescopes they have. I'd like to scan for telescopes without seeing all their offerings because nothing they have I want. This can be carried over to sporting goods and other categories where a lot of inexpensive Chinese commodity goods or knock offs are listing.

Ebay is rapidly becoming as seedy as many of the flea markets I've visited. There is good stuff there, but there's so much chaff to filter through. If their profitability is hinging upon maximising listings they may find bidders give up and go to other sites because they are fed up with sifting through too many listings to find what they want.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913843)

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.

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915839)

I'm not a business major nor do I ever want to work for a large corporation, but what I do not understand is why profits constantly have to be rising. As long as they're not falling, why does it matter? You can only go so high, that just makes sense. If you're pulling in a consistent but steady profit, what is the problem? Why does it always have to be more? Is it just pure greed?

Re:It isnt' a simple question (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20916061)

That's why you invest in something, presumably... You put in money in hopes that the use of your money will increase the value of whatever it is you invested in.

Continued growth is simply a means to justify failure to return the profits of the corporation to the shareholders. The profits belong to the shareholders, and if the company doesn't pay them out, it's essentially the same as all the shareholders are pumping more cash into the company. People rightly expect a return on that additional investment, hence the expectation of continually growing profits.

Bad analogy (2, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912155)

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?

Re:Bad analogy (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912417)

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.

target="_blank" (5, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912211)

Open in new tab.

Problem solved!
eBay, feel free to send me a few millions as a reward. KTHXbye.

Re:target="_blank" (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912833)

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 number of related adverts will appear after they go through with the bid or back out of the bid.

However, on the chance that the ads won't produce sales, maybe a *tiny* fraction of sales from auctions and other ad conversions should prop up the remaining ads placements. eBay may have already considered this, but something more balancing and less intrusive/obtrusive should be presented.

BTW, I wonder if the page changes will happen in Hyderbad or Bangalore, or San Jose/First Street/Bascom Avenue

How about.... (1)

paisleyboxers (540253) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912935)

Don't Click the freaking ad? How about that?

Re:How about.... (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913889)

It's not the buyers are upset that ads are there necessarily, it's the sellers. They're *paying* ebay (twice if they use PayPal) to help sell goods, and ebay is at the same time providing ads that could result in lower sales for these sellers. Since the listing fee is taken by ebay regardless of whether the items sells or not, it's kind of like ebay double dipping. They get listing fees, and ad revenue, and are using their users as the contextual ad base. Kind of slimy when you look at it that way.

Re:target="_blank" (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914209)

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 noise at the door; the paper had just been delivered. Scrameustache groaned and dragged themself to the door, and picked up the newly delivered paper.

Scrameustache's tired eyes scanned the paper for the comics section when they fell upon the front of the paper... Scrameustache froze, and let out a terrifying wail... They sank to the floor, banging their fists against the front door in despair.

The paper fell to the floor, the bold headline face up for all to see. "target="_blank" Successfully Patented by eBay"

Re:target="_blank" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20915473)

Make sure you've not violated some patents, though. "One click" for a company to earn money has been patented for sure.

middle click. (1)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912231)

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:middle click. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20912389)

Oh, sweet little retard, the point is that Joe fucking Public doesn't middle-click. The auctioners are concerned about Joe fucking Public, not themselves.
PS. Your userid is 1_3_3_+ , and your mother's a whore.

Re:middle click. (1)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912575)

your mother's a whore

my mother's dead, you insensitive clod

Re:middle click. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20913203)

my mother's dead, you insensitive clod
Necrophiliacs need love too, you insensitive clod.

Re:middle click. (1)

The_Chicken_205 (723443) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912505)

That's an end-user solution - something that the seller/eBay cannot control - which I think is what the article is about.

People who left-click an advert are navigated away from the seller's page which could result in a lost purchase.

Re:middle click. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20912671)

target="annoying_new_window"

Re:middle click. (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912947)

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.

You can disable it in user preferences! (4, Informative)

kad77 (805601) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:You can disable it in user preferences! (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912391)

Err... For whom? For the seller or for the buyer?

Re:You can disable it in user preferences! (4, Insightful)

argmanah (616458) | more than 6 years ago | (#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? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#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".

The shipping thing is a big deal (3, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912911)

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.

Re:The shipping thing is a big deal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20913481)

"Shipping" prices are a way to avoid eBay's ever increasing fees. If you've ever placed an auction and used PayPal for payment, you're looking at around 20% off the top from all the fees you pay. If I sell a widget for $100, I end up with $80. I wanted $100 for the item, so I will pad the shipping rate to make up the difference. Effectively, pushing the cost of posting on eBay to the buyer and not the seller. Now, it has gone to extremes lately with a lot of deceptive auctions hoping to rope people into paying high shipping rates.

I used to be a big eBay buyer/seller in the early days but I think I've bought 2 items in the last 5 years and sold nothing. Between scams, shipping ripoffs, power sellers it's not worth it. In fact, most times you can buy the items locally for less and get them faster.

Shouldn't have much effect. (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912261)

Who clicks on the ads anyway?
I mean, except for the people who get paid to click the ads.

Re:Shouldn't have much effect. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912465)

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.

eBay is a lost cause (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912267)

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.

Re:eBay is a lost cause (1)

Zephida (1016417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913067)

I too fondly remember the good old days of Ebay

Used to be great to find odd items, second hand parts, or things I just couldn't find in the shops.

While there is nothing wroing with stores using e-bay to sell items, I'm sick and tired of all the rubbish auctions

All I find on e-bay these days are
Items with artifically high buyout prices
Items with Insane postage amounts
Scam artists
Stolen Mobile phones and laptops
£0.99 auctions that promise the secrets to free beer, beautiful women, and £1,000,000

Since when has eBay ever cared about sellers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20912333)

At least, in recent years?

They've been abusing sellers ever since their moat was established.

living (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912353)

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.

Shouldn't they anticipate....... (1)

angus_rg (1063280) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912423)

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 paste generic that keeps the pertinent information for 12 different auctions scattered in obscure places, not only might I have stayed and bought, I'd be rich. You don't have to have a degree in Marketing to see that most sellers are doing a piss poor job.

This begs the question . . . (1)

LiquidHAL (801263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912449)

when will wee see Gauctions

Re:This begs the question . . . (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913453)

Right because Google will surely have less ads.

Re:This begs the question . . . (1)

Oliver Defacszio (550941) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915559)

"Gawkshuns"

Yuck.

Those sellers that complain are crooked. (5, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912461)

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.

Re:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912659)

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:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912845)

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?

Re:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (1)

quintessentialk (926161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912913)

I've rarely found things cheaper on ebay than I could elsewhere, especially things like electronics which other people want (high demand) and don't know how to shop for. As you said, ebay only works if

1. You are bidding on a rare item that you simply can't find elsewhere
2. You are rare person bidding on an item no one else cares about. (essentially what you're hoping for in #2 in the parent post)

Mind you, this covers plenty of circumstances, but you're leaving out a lot of people:
1. People who enjoy ebay's search features. Maybe it is more convenient, even if it isn't cheaper.
2. People who have heard ebay is a good place to get cheap stuff and don't investigate whether there's a way to get cheaper stuff.
3. People who like the visceral pleasure of winning an auction or 'getting a deal'.

I agree, advertising doesn't distract the 'rational ebay user' demographic, who has already considered all non-auction retail venues before placing a bid. But it might distract people who are unfamiliar with the alternatives.

Re:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913823)

I have to tell you that if you are smart, #2 is not as rare as you would think.

Look for used/damaged items. Look for spelling mistakes. I got a phone for cheaper by taking a used item with a bad battery. Bought a new battery and it lasted for 1 year, about as long as most people typically have a phone for anyway.

Re:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20914639)

It has been my experience as an eBay seller that a significant number of buyers subscribe to the "eBay is ALWAYS cheaper" school of thought. I resold a number of iPod nanos for $15-30 more than the price at Amazon.

Re:Those sellers that complain are crooked. (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914811)

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 would be unaware of the myriad of other places where one can purchase a Wii, etc. I also do not see any false implication of rarity since there will generally be about a billion listings for anything that is not truly rare.

These sellers pay eBay to promote their items for sale or auction. Ebay is turning around and profiting by helping outsiders pilfer their customers through advertisements on the same listing pages that they paid for. I think they have a right to be pissed.

Actually... (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915017)

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 getting paid by the seller when the seller sells things.

It can be a service to the buyer (4, Insightful)

wherrera (235520) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912509)

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:It can be a service to the buyer (2, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912611)

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.

Re:It can be a service to the buyer (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912889)

So I can go to Best Buy and pass out Walmart ads next to the items being sold... right...

Re:It can be a service to the buyer (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913553)

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.

Re:It can be a service to the buyer (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914921)

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.

Don't like it? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912581)

Switch to an alternative. QXL, Ebid, CQout etc.
 

Re:Don't like it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20914117)

Which combined, don't even have half the audience that eBay does.

That can't be all the sellers are mad at.... (2, Interesting)

TheDrewbert (914334) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912609)

When I last tried to sell stuff on e-bay the only bids I got were from the postal money order scam artists. Sold my stuff on craigslist instead.

Who cares? (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912631)

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.

If You Don't Like eBay (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

What ads? (1)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912871)

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.

eBay is not a Babysitter (1)

Jambeeno (1164295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913141)

If you don't want to leave an auction page either learn how the open links in a new tab/window or don't click them. For cripe's sake.

In support of competitive markets (2, Insightful)

dustisearth (1170113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913749)

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 drive people away from E-Bay auctions it is because they are not competitive, and this is a good thing for consumers and for the market.

The only thing that really cuts against this is that ads could be misleading or customers could be distracted from finding a competitive auction. On the first point, however, there are already laws that address that problem. And on the second, the auction model itself assumes the existence of personal responsibility enough that we shouldn't have to be paternalistic about people getting distracting and not looking out for themselves. Finally, to whatever extent someone forgoes a competitive auction for a higher fixed price through an ad, that can be explained by the consumer's preference for immediacy or for saving time, both of which are legitimate preferences.

Re:In support of competitive markets (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914139)

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.

Re:In support of competitive markets (1)

dustisearth (1170113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914177)

Agreed. And typically the source will be more easily traceable for legal purposes, provided that the seller is not foreign.

It can only hurt them long term (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913959)

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.

Re:It can only hurt them long term (1)

dustisearth (1170113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914513)

That's difficult to say without more information. It is possible that it could hurt them if the loss (of auction commissions) from sending buyers to other sites exceeds the gains from advertising revenue, but it is also possible that the advertising revenue will exceed the loss of auction commissions. Empirical information is needed before one could say one way or another. If all that we have to work with are intuitions, we are facing an intractable "debate" that will go nowhere.

Re:It can only hurt them long term (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914925)

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).

eBay prices are = retail (3, Insightful)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Ebay = Dead. (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914705)

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. Viva Craigslist.

Where's my cut? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915089)

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.

eBay annoyances (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915301)

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 in the ad to go to your My eBay page. Tip to eBay: this is counter productive. This kind of user-hostile advertising only serves to annoy your customers and ultimately reduces your profits.

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