Seeing the opportunity to make more of its on-site advertising, eBay is rolling out a new product which allows web merchants to pay commission for every sale generated. 

‘Promoted Listings’ allows merchants to state a percentage between 1-20% they want to part with in the event of a sale. Those paying higher rates of commission will have a more prominent position in eBay’s search window, but the ability to offer low rates should go down with those distributing cheap items at a high volume.

The feature is set to be rolled out gradually to eBay sellers in the UK and Germany before reaching Australia, the US and a breadth of other markets.

In their early analysis, experts are backing smaller merchants to seize on the opportunity of guaranteeing sales through their eBay ad spend.

Ads that sell

Incorporating techniques akin to programmatic trading, search and affiliate marketing, Promoted Listings are triggered on the basis of product-identifying keywords. These range from brand names to universal product codes, as set by the merchant.

Snapshots from eBay confirm that its cost-per-sale ads are made to appear like regular listings but with a ‘Promoted’ tag placed above the product details. Rival marketplace Amazon has a similar feature for sponsored listings, which run on a cost-per-click model. 

“This way, there’s no upfront risk for the seller,” eBay executive Alex Linde told Bloomberg.

“The only lever these sellers had in the past was price, and nobody wants to grow only by discounting.” 

Management and tracking of Promoted Listings are to come from tools baked into the seller’s Ebay account, with all posts landing exclusively on the site’s search function. Reports suggest eBay is also looking into options that would bring these adverts out to the wider web.

Signing up

Promoted Listings could go on to represent a key stream of revenue for eBay, whose ad-related takings come partly from merchants who pay for traffic driven by third-party publishers, enabled by the eBay Partner Network.

Sellers across the UK and Germany are likely to get their hands on the new feature sooner than merchants in other markets, although an invite-only barrier is currently in place.

The only other way to get fast-tracked is joining the ‘waitlist’ here.

In the meantime, eBay will be looking closely into the way sellers use its new tool in an attempt to eliminate any game-playing at the earliest opportunity. 

Emphasis will be placed on promoting ads which deliver good buyer experience and fit naturally with the sorts of things users are searching for. This could result in a clampdown on advertisers that increase the price of their products and bid on the maximum rate of commission, just to gain exposure.

Have you been invited to use eBay’s new feature? would love to hear from you.