The Importance of Delivering Personalized Messaging to Shoppers

The online retail industry has shown tremendous growth, with no signs of slowing down. And it is still, constantly, evolving.

Online shoppers are becoming increasingly technology-savvy, and need a personalized, human-first approach in order to engage with brands and advertisements. Plus, even the way consumers shop and browse is continuously changing, as they seamlessly move between devices like mobile phones, tablets, and beyond.

With this rapidly changing landscape, it is crucial for online retailers to constantly gather knowledge and data about the evolving ways that consumers shop. This helps brand to better target their needs, understand their shopping habits, and ultimately connect with them, across devices, in a memorable and personalized way.

As a marketplace offering the best, brightest, and most unique items across a variety of verticals, eBay is home to some of the most passionate and diverse shoppers on the web. From rare coin collectors to shoe junkies and auto sellers, 170 million consumers visit eBay searching for their perfect item.

In order to better connect with these shoppers, eBay uses AI and big data to understand how people move at a granular scale.

This begins with our AI-powered homepage, personalized to each user. With over 80% of eBay shoppers logged-in, we can deterministically identify users across channels and devices, rather than relying on cookie-based models. Our valuable insights then dictate the way we target shoppers with advertisements, offering a level of personalization they can connect with.

These 170 million shoppers translate to over 280 million hours of monthly shopping data, all used to help advertising partners identify the exact right audience on eBay. From this, eBay developed 550 essential audience segments, as well as the ability for advertisers to build their own unique audiences based on CRM data and more. From age and household targeting, to specific insurance or auto shoppers, advertisers hold to the key to a global audience of shoppers.

Lastly, our latest programmatic technology offers an added layer of micro-targeting to advertisers. With 500 million daily programmatic impressions, eBay has over 12,000 brands bidding for audiences across the site. This technology allows brand to boost the efficacy of their ads, reaching only those exact right shoppers and cutting down on latency.

Big data insights and personalized options are key to reaching the right shoppers online. It is crucial to work with an ecommerce retailer that understands the evolving needs of online consumers, and offers the experience and knowledge to help you reach your marketing goals.

For more facts and information about advertising with eBay, visit our website.

Giving Back with eBay

At eBay, we are only as vibrant and successful as the people around us. From our employees, to our sellers, shoppers, advertisers, and beyond, they are the fabric that define our values.

Giving back is at the core of our brand principles; it is what makes us unique and is a valuable way in which we connect with people all over the world.

The eBay Foundation

Our charitable foundation helps us extend our passions and influence beyond our borders as an online marketplace and connect with the global community. We are proud to have given back $40 million to non-profit organizations worldwide since 1998, when we started the first corporate foundation to be created with pre-IPO stock.

We are able to help entrepreneurs and communities prosper while promoting a circular economy through the use of grants, impact investments, and employee engagement programs. And we couldn’t do it without the help of our employees, who donate their invaluable time and energies to a wide range of charitable causes. eBay proudly supports them, matching both dollars and time.

Through the years, some of our proudest moments have been giving back to communities, whether in our own backyard or across the globe.

For example, employees have provided $159K in loans with Kiva, an online platform connecting lenders to entrepreneurs worldwide. Also, we proudly partnered with TaroWorks, donating $2 million to create a field management tool aimed at connecting micro-entrepreneurs in remote parts of the world with data, information, and the tools to thrive.

Whenever possible, we also help support the charitable efforts of our employees on a local level as well. Our 1,800 eBay employees in Salt Lake City, Utah, together spend over 9,000 hours annually volunteering in their community, most notably serving countless lunches to the homeless and disadvantaged people at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall.

As an organization, the eBay Foundation has a bright future ahead, with many goals on the horizon. By 2020, we hope to lend an additional $1 million to budding businesses, giving 50,000 entrepreneurs access to capital and valuable mentoring.

You can learn more about the work we do at the eBay Foundation here.

Global Impact

In addition to our work with non-profits through the eBay Foundation, we are committed to making positive social and environmental changes within our own business. This includes reducing our environmental footprint, energy use, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions as a company.

As of 2016, eBay has seen a 36% decrease in total carbon emissions. Looking forward, we are focused on moving to 100% renewable energy usage in our electrical supply at all eBay data centers and offices. Together with other corporate partners, we founded the Business Renewables Center, guiding other companies to build and expand their renewable energy usage.

Learn more about our environmental commitment and goals for the future here.

Improving Openness Through Charitable Giving

eBay is committed to giving back to our community, and providing a brand platform that is both ethically sound and safe for sellers, shoppers, and advertising partners. Just as we prioritize charitable giving and own our brand values and ethics, so also are we steadfast in providing a transparent and trusted marketplace to our eBay stakeholders.

Brand security is top of mind for many advertisers, and we pride ourselves on being a marketplace built on strong values.

You can learn more about the eBay Foundation and our Global Impact statement, as well additional information about our responsible business model and our eBay for Charity program here.

eBay’s Programmatic Auction Mechanics Moving to First Price to Reduce Fraud and Increase Transparency

Rolling out this week, eBay will be migrating all programmatic auction mechanics to First Price across all requisite ad placements. eBay has been building its own internal ad stack, a server-to-server solution we’ve dubbed “Sandwich.” The Sandwich platform is designed, among other things, to ingest bids from competing programmatic demand sources and return a clearing price to the winner. Moving to First Price is a natural extension of eBay’s programmatic ad stack, and is in keeping with the recent release of ads.txt to reduce ad fraud and increase transparency.

Under this First Price paradigm, the revenue payment due from the auction winner is based on that clearing price. eBay is announcing formally that Sandwich is adopting a First Price auction model, meaning the amount due to eBay from the winning bidder for a particular impression is equivalent to its submitted bid.

Moving to a First Price auction dynamic will help remove marketplace opacity. eBay seeks to partner more closely with the buy side to ensure a transparent, fraud free partnership for the long term.  

Understanding Shopper Audiences

Finding the perfect advertising platform can be a challenge. Which is why it is vital to partner with a company that not only understands shoppers, but offers the type of specificity and customization that can help you reach the right audience.

Advertising is all about zeroing in on the right customer at the right moment in their shopping journey. Especially within a diverse marketplace like eBay, it is crucial to reach the right type of audience and ultimately promote your brand efficiently.

For our brand partners, we offer customization through essential audience segments. With over 170M active buyers worldwide, eBay has compiled 550+ essential audiences for you to choose from, carefully broken down to ensure your brand is reaching the ideal shoppers. Audiences include segments based on shopper demographics like age, occupation, income, and gender. Other segments are categorized based on shopping habits or persona, as compiled through our multiple data touchpoints.

Our other audience segments are built around seasonal moments and holidays, which allow you to carefully target shoppers on the hunt for specialty décor, gifts, or post-season sale items.

eBay essential audiences can also be tailored to specific industries, targeting shoppers in automotive categories, customers who use specific mobile phone carriers, or insurance shoppers. These segments not only target shopper demographics, but allow you to reach your audiences at the right time in their journey, when they may be in the market for seasonal items, a new cellular service, or any other item.

eBay’s newest offering to brand partners incorporates our shop-alike technology, which creates custom audience segments by utilizing existing brand data. This data can be extracted from existing CRM information, or based on a previous campaign performance. Shop-Alike audiences allow brands to hone in quicker than ever before, reaching new shoppers most in line with their current customer base.

Lastly, brands are always able to customize audience segments of their choosing, personalized for them in partnership with eBay.

Whatever you brand goals may be, eBay offers the customization and options to target your ideal shoppers, convert buyers, and ultimately drives sales to your bottom line.

For more information about audience segments and personalization, you can download our free Advertiser Audience eGuide here.

Leveraging machine learning to deliver a personalized, micro-targeted message to shoppers

By Bridget Davies, VP eBay Advertising North America

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking the stage at the Programmatic World Forum to share how eBay is leveraging technology and innovation to drive the evolution of our core business. At eBay, we are committed to developing new and exciting ways of connecting with customers and understanding their shopping needs, while also investing in technology that enhances the advertiser experience. Whether it be ShopBot, our personalized homepage, image search, or our latest programmatic innovation called parallel bidding, eBay is changing the game with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Parallel bidding is a staple technology akin to header bidding, offering increased transparency and efficiency to help both publishers and advertisers meet their advertising objectives. eBay’s machine learning algorithms determine the value of each user and the likely impact of that user’s immediate behavior, and couples that with market bidding dynamics to ensure each eBay user receives the right message at the right time.

For example, if a user is shopping for a smartphone on eBay, they may notice an ad from a mobile provider to complement their potential purchase. This happens because two actions take place as they click the search bar and begin shopping. First, our search engine begins to look through the 1.1 billion eBay listings to find those best suited to the search terms. Secondly, eBay’s advertising exchange offers millions of advertisers the chance to showcase an ad, all in real time. So, as they continue to browse for smartphones, advertisers are competing to get their attention.

This bidding occurs on nearly every single page load, which in the past meant delayed page responsiveness and slow speeds. As a large global marketplace with 168M active buyers and 500M daily programmatic impressions, the need for a seamless and fast user experience is crucial. Because of this, we began leveraging the OpenRTB spec, and built a unified auction exchange to power our bidding market. With our new process, multiple advertisers are sent an exchange in parallel, rather than one at a time. This allows for a quick, fair, and unified auction amongst advertisers, and creates the best environment to reach customers and drive sales.

It is this programmatic data that makes parallel bidding possible, allowing us to analyze shoppers and create intelligent pricing. This technology is a crucial move for eBay to continue to build on our advertising technology, increasing yield and improving latency by up to 60%.

Machine learning is a growing trend that will shape the future of advertising. It’s critical for publishers to analyze countless signals in real time to reach consumers with more relevant ads at the right moments.

eBay is continuing to work on parallel bidding with the goal of increasing scale across the eBay platform. Our goals this year are to expand parallel bidding across new channels, increase the number of partners, and invest more in our core, machine learning algorithms.

You can watch my presentation at the Programmatic World Forum below.

Leveraging machine learning to deliver a personalized, micro-targeted message to shoppers from eBay Advertising on Vimeo.

Protecting Your Investment with eBay’s Ads.txt

This week eBay is launching ads.txt, furthering its commitment to combating ad fraud and providing greater transparency in the programmatic ad inventory supply chain. As a recent Digiday article explains, the sale of fraudulent, non-authentic impressions has become progressively more commonplace. Domain spoofing has remained a persistent issue for programmatic advertising, and has increased the demand for heightened brand security. eBay’s core values are built around our trusted, transparent marketplace; launching ads.txt is the latest example of eBay’s continuing effort to provide a brand safe, fraud free environment for advertisers.

What is the ads.txt project?

Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers and is a simple, flexible and secure method that eBay now uses to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. Ads.txt is a simple text file that sits in the page source code of the eBay domain.

Spearheaded by the IAB, ads.txt is a new industry standard in combating fraud and will prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions in programmatic transactions. As publishers like eBay adopt ads.txt, buyers will be able to more easily identify the Authorized Digital Sellers for a participating publisher, allowing brands to have confidence they are buying authentic publisher inventory.

How big of problem is ad fraud?

It’s greater than you may think. Ad fraud is an issue not only for display, but also for video. A December 2017 article in Digiday found that advertisers spent $3.5 million a day on fake video inventory, falsely claiming to come from sites like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today. These publishers also found that 10 display exchanges and 24 videos were fraudulently representing access to their sites, on average. This type of fraud is not only damaging to those companies who purchase ads under false pretenses, but also affect the publisher who is misrepresented to offer these ads.

Will this impact direct-sold campaigns?

Not at all. Ads.txt was created to combat fraud and increase transparency of the programmatic ad ecosystem. Direct-sold campaigns are not impacted by this release. Once the eBay inventory is verified through the launch of Ads.txt, there is the potential possibility for existing and prospective buyers to develop preferred partnerships. This is a prime opportunity for us to educate our marketing partners of this exciting development.

Holiday Season Advertising Guide

by: Josh Wetzel, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing, eBay Advertising

December is upon us— which means retailers and marketers like you have been hard at work for months devising your holiday advertising strategies. To help you put the finishing touches on your holiday planning, we’ve made list, and checked it twice. We hope these 4 keys to success help guide you into Q4 and through the festive season.

Target the Early Birds

The most eager customers plan their holiday shopping early in order to score better deals than those waiting until the last minute. While many shoppers plan their holiday gift-giving prior to Black Friday, there are still several important shopping days left in the season. Cater to holiday shoppers on Green Monday (December 11), Free Shipping Day (December 15), Christmas Eve (December 24), Super Saturday (December 23), or New Year’s Eve (December 31).

Big shopping days give advertisers a prime opportunity to target these consumers, as digital interactions generally influence 66% of shoppers in-store purchases. Tease holiday deals early on in the month and before your competitors to reap the benefits of driving sales.

Make Data Work For You

Many advertisers work hard to collect information, and as a result can find it difficult to let go of the numbers. Data is a valuable tool, but more data is not always better. For smart advertisers, the right data with the deepest context about shoppers is what’s really crucial.

Make sure you are leveraging powerful analytics tools to get the most value from your data, allowing you to build advertising campaigns and seize prime opportunities. For example, while there is a great opportunity to target customers based on location data, only 22% of marketers take advantage of hyper-local advertising.

Care About Your Customer

Resonating with customers is the most important role of advertising. When it comes to the shopping journey, consider how to build up a foundation of brand loyalty. A customized shopping experience or personalized engagement can make all the difference to shoppers.

While this can sound like a big investment, remember that 80% of consumers look to recommendations from third parties when making a purchase, and 43.5% of Millenials use social media to spread the word about products or services they like.

Be Mobile

Consumers today are glued to their smartphones and mobile devices, especially when shopping. In fact, 79% of Americans today regularly shop online, while 51% have made a purchase on a mobile phone.

Keeping these numbers in mind, is it extremely important that holiday ads translate well from a desktop computer to mobile device, making a seamless experience for shoppers instead of a headache. Be sure to test your ads across digital formats, and take special care to ensure your content makes sense for mobile.

Advertising for Small Businesses in Preparation for Small Business Saturday

By Beth Bruce, Field Marketing Lead at eBay Advertising

For many small business owners, being your own boss means juggling many responsibilities—whether working on your own or with a small, close-knit team. From managing a website to keeping an eye on inventory, there can be a lot on your plate. And, as the holidays approach, things can become even busier than usual. However, this season has some very unique opportunities to drive growth and increase sales.

While Black Friday is a red-letter day for the mainstream retail industry, Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) is dedicated to budding companies and cottage trades.

Founded in 2010 by American Express, the holiday spotlights the unique appeal of independently-run businesses on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As Small Business Saturday approaches, here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when it comes to advertising for your company.

 

Help your Site Shine

A well-organized and impressive website is crucial for not only making sales, but also advertising your brand. Aesthetics are important, so make sure your business puts its best foot forward online.

Ensure that links, contact information, promotions, and product information is up-to-date and properly displayed. Visit your website as if you were a potential customer—is everything easy to read, intuitive, and understandable? Gather a list of questions that a new customer might ask, and make sure your site addresses them clearly.

And, whatever you do, don’t forget about mobile browsing! A recent study found 40 percent of small business websites in the US aren’t optimized for mobile. In this age of mobile technology, keeping up with customers on-the-go is increasingly important; as is making sure they have an overall positive browsing experience.

 

Get Social

Your brand’s social media channels will play a huge role in reaching customers with seasonal promotions, offers, or specialty products leading up to Small Business Saturday.

A great way to utilize these channels is to join in the ”Shop Small” campaign, leveraging hashtags in your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In 2016, a staggering 112 million customers shopped and dined on Small Business Saturday. Social media has become a crucial way for shoppers to stay up-to-date with their favorite small businesses – make sure to get noticed on these new platforms.

 

Get Educated with Free Marketing Resources

At eBay, we’ve enjoyed partnering with small businesses on our global platform for years. Today, our site has 168 million active buyers worldwide. If you’re considering tapping into this audience, check out our 2018 eBay Retail Moments Guide for insights into each seasonal opportunity and top-selling items.

American Express also provides a range of helpful and free resources for small companies, as part of their Small Business Saturday marketing program.

 

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

The holidays are all about creating memorable moments, which are especially valuable in converting new customers into loyal, return customers. If you are considering a partnership with a marketplace or commerce brand like eBay, make sure that in-store shoppers are aware of your online presence.

Create an exciting shopping experience by hosting a Small Business Saturday event, showcasing new seasonal products. Thank customers for their continued support with beverages or baked goodies while they browse. Remember, holiday shopping should be enjoyable!