Keeping eBay in Mind

'Come to think of it,' eBay's new multimedia ad blitz is stirring excitement.

by Brad and Debra Schepp
- Nov 24, 2009

eBay's new advertising campaign is generating excitement as we enter this holiday shopping season. Brand new, the campaign began in October and includes a series of television commercials, print ads and online spots. We'll look at a fourth buzz-worthy element of the campaign a little later.

The TV and online ads feature comedians explaining how they found amazing bargains and deals by shopping on eBay. The ads themselves have a casual and personal tone that lets the audience "in" on the deal being described.

Though targeted toward fixed-priced listings and commodity items, the campaign also embraces the aspect of shopping for used items online. One ad features the ultimate "green" shopping experience of buying a previously owned power drill. The tone of the commercials seems to be hitting all the right economic and environmental concerns on the minds of holiday shoppers this year.

"eBay is primarily focusing on the existing customer base with this integrated campaign," says Greg Fant, vice president of North America Marketing at eBay. "The tagline, 'Come to think of it, eBay' aims to encourage consumers to consider eBay for items they might look elsewhere to purchase—new, premium-used, everyday and luxury items in a variety of categories—in essence, to view eBay in a different light. We want these consumers to explore all that eBay has to offer."

According to Fant, many loyal eBay shoppers tend to come to the site for a particular type of item, and don't think about eBay for the broad selection of goods that are available for sale in a variety of listing formats, conditions and pricing options.

The campaign encourages all buyers to reconsider and recommit to eBay, because of the amazing value and selection available on the site

"We want to encourage these customers to interact with eBay in a different way—if they buy for themselves, we want them to buy for others and use eBay as a gifting destination. If they buy in one category, we want them to explore purchases in other categories," Fant says.

To achieve this goal, eBay's campaign includes ads for products such as designer clothing and flat-screen TVs. Everything from brand new electronics to gently used exercise equipment is featured. Whether the items are from last year's inventory or previously owned, the emphasis is on variety, value and ease of shopping.

What do sellers think?

To test what successful sellers think about the new campaign, we turned to Cynthia Lizana, president of the Internet Merchants Association. She was kind enough to poll her members on a discussion board to gain some feedback. As you might have guessed, long-time and successful eBay sellers shared a range of opinions with us. Here's a sampling of the responses we received:

  • "I saw a preview of this campaign last week, and my first impression was, 'What a waste.' After almost a week to think it over, it is growing on me. What is interesting is how many different things different people pull from the ads. Young people seem to like the ads a lot more than the baby boomers," says Robert.

  • "Any ad campaign is better than none. Could the ads be better? Yes. They are funny and that's a good thing. Good timing on the campaign," notes Ken.

  • "On a positive note, they spoke of getting a dress at 40 percent off, no mention of auction or Buy It Now. They seem to be promoting great deals on last year's fashions. This part seemed OK. I didn't think it was horrible," adds Fred.

It's too early yet to know if this ad campaign will succeed and result in more traffic, sales and profits for eBay sellers. But the broad approach to prospective shoppers is encouraging.

"The campaign is targeted toward our most active buyers as well as those less-frequent users, encouraging all of them to reconsider and recommit to eBay, because of the amazing value and selection available on the site," Fant says.

Brandon Dupsky, president of the e-Commerce Merchants Trade Association commends this approach, calling eBay's campaign "a very refreshing change."

"Something I always preach about to eBay is how their seller relationship needs to be viewed as a partnership," Dupsky says. "Greg [Fant] is a long-time eBay exec [nine years]. He stayed around while most others have moved on/out, and in his early days, he was in the Category Management team, so Greg understands sellers far better than most execs in the company."

eBay is combining all the latest social-networking tools to spread the word of its new campaign

That understanding became clear to us as we listened to a recent AuctionBytes podcast, in which Fant discusses the idea behind featuring the "diversity of categories/shelves" available to eBay shoppers.

This may well be what Dupsky means by "refreshing."

"[Fant's] approach to highlight the value sellers bring to the marketplace as more of a partnership than ever before within eBay's messaging is very encouraging!" Dupsky notes.

eBay hits the road

As the fourth element of this new advertising campaign, eBay has launched a 12-city tour with its Mobile Boutique. The equivalent of a tricked-out RV, this mobile unit will travel the country creating advertising events everywhere it stops.

At a recent stop in Philadelphia, eBay offered $50 gift cards to the first 100 shoppers who knew the "password" shared on eBay's Facebook and Twitter accounts. The giveaway was over in 38 minutes, according to the event blog. Clearly, eBay is combining all the latest social-networking tools to spread the word of its new campaign, with an attempt to attract those customers who still need to feel as though they have touched prospective purchases and seen them in person. The Mobile Boutique should create a buzz in all the cities it visits.

Perhaps best of all, the entire campaign is slated to continue beyond the holidays into next year's first quarter. Again, whether the new campaign results in increased traffic and sales remains to be seen and analyzed when the holiday shopping season is over. Fant is optimistic.

"This campaign was developed out of the requests we received from sellers who were telling us we needed to get out there and engage customers to think about eBay in new ways," he notes. "We'll bet there will be customers who will be coming to eBay this holiday season and beyond to look for these [luxury] types of items, so we encourage sellers and merchants this holiday season and beyond to deliver the best customer service and value for all eBay users."

About the Author

Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book, which Deb co-authored with John Lawson, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs: It's Not About Likes—It's About Sales, was recently named the 2015 Small Business Book of the Year in the social media category.

For further information, visit Brad and Deb's website,

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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