eBay Traffic Drop – Why?

Friday, 21 November 2008 at 8:08 am Pacific USA Time.

AuctionBytes posted something today about eBay's traffic dropping this year.


The first couple of people who commented offered one possibility: sellers aren't searching the site as much as they used to, so that traffic has decreased. The economy making people do less shopping is another good reason.

I'd like to offer some of my ideas on why eBay may see fewer page views.

  • What if Best Match is working? If eBay shoppers are viewing fewer items before deciding to bid or buy, then that would lead to fewer page views.
  • More API-based shopping tools. From eBay desktop to shopping with your mobile phone, I am wondering if those new technologies are decreasing page views. You CAN shop eBay without hitting much of the site. Do the page views include WAP browsing? I don't know! I'd imagine they don't include usage of tools like eBay Desktop or nabit.
  • More third-party tools being used for eBay research. You used to see how items did by searching on the site. Now, you use Terapeak, HammerTap, or Vendio Research for your info.
  • eBay advertising is down from previous years. I remember years when you could barely watch a few hours of TV without seeing some eBay ads. Right now, I can't watch 15 minutes of TV without 3 Wal-Mart ads. So maybe this year, with Wal-Mart ads up, and people concerned about the economy, people are not thinking eBay as much as we'd like them to think about it!
  • Many sellers I know are also eBay buyers. If the sellers are frustrated with eBay and leaving, or got suspended, then they are unlikely to also be shopping and buying.
  • As my commenters below reminded me, eBay also dropped out of a lot of Google search results. You used to get HEAPS of eBay choices when doing searches. Now, eBay is not getting the same placement in Google. I can only guess that Google tweaked their Best Match, and eBay got pushed to page 3. :)

Lower page views in a vacuum don't sound THAT awful, especially when eBay is trying to find ways to make shopping faster and easier. The sales figures and the problems sellers are facing… those concern me more!

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

7 Responses to “eBay Traffic Drop – Why?”

  1. TekGems says:

    Its hard to read the comments on Ina’s blog when they are repetition on the same theme of “eBay sucks”. It is concerning that unique views have reduced. It also doesn’t help that eBay changed their relationship with affiliates which drove a lot of traffic (qualified & unqualified) to eBay. Traffic does have a correlation with number of sales, but I always like to see the bottom line of… is it profitable? Since FP30, it has been for us.

  2. Trent_T says:

    Excellant write-up!
    All of your points are spot on. A rule in marketing is when the economy is in a slow down, jump above your competition by increasing your advertising budget.
    It use to be that every time you searched for something on Google, the results were plastered with ebay items. This is no longer the case. With the exception of a few choice products such as electronics. This has to hurt ebay’s overall traffic!
    I have been seeing some advertising from ebay but not in the strong stand-out ads they have had in years past. Will it work for ebay sellers? Only time will tell and soon enough we will have our answers.

  3. Hey, Tek.
    We are hearing a lot of good things from sellers who are following ALL of the latest “Strategy Spotlights” as we call them. FP30 + free shipping + multiple quantity are generally leading to lower fees and more sales. So that’s good!
    I agree that eBay should be doing more marketing and advertising. I’m not sure why they killed some of those affiliate relationships.
    I agree that AuctionBytes can be hard to read when it seems like just another venue for the “angry villagers with torches” that you tend to find on the eBay Discussion Forums.

  4. I’d like to think it was item #2 “More API-based shopping tools,” but that might be too optimistic. While I’ll lean towards the combination of factors, if I had to pick one I’d say it’s probably the Google drop.
    I would have also liked to see some television advertising this holiday season–it seems to be the popular consensus that the TV ad is dead or dying, but in eBay’s case, agree with it or not, they PO’ed a lot of folks who left and aren’t coming back–what they need are brand new eyeballs. I think we’re far enough into their lifecycle that a round of attention-grabbing TV spots could have gone a long way towards that goal.
    Related to that is this idea of them making over their image at a time when their old image as “the place to get used stuff cheap” would really be beneficial.
    Thanks, Cliff

  5. TekGems says:

    Its a Catch-22. The stats are from Nielsen. Only eBay has the complete picture. But even if eBay released a report, there would be so many skeptical and/or vitriolic reactions. It would almost be pointless for eBay to give out that information.

  6. Just A Thought says:

    I think it relates to a number of things…
    – the changes in the eBay site may not be as ‘user-friendly’ as eBay claims.
    – sellers who leave are likely taking buyer/page views with them.
    – with personal budgets tightening, shoppers are using the search results more agressively and not viewing as many listings as before.
    – more people using Freecycle to find things they can afford.
    – perhaps just too must “disruptive” and not enough “innovative”?
    The bigger question is… will eBay be able to pull the Q4 results out of the muck, or will we see even more reliance on ‘non-eBay.com’ revenue to bolster the bottom line?

  7. Ed says:

    With all the talk focussed on Search and Best Match, it would seem that good old fashioned “Browse” is dead?
    The traffic began to fall when eBay rolled the program to amalgamate all the lower level sub-categories and introduced item specifics.
    From that point on, browsing became nauseating and tiresome – I’m convinced in terms of page hit counts, that’s where the foundations of the current traffic crisis lies.