eBay Paid Search Ads on Google: An Interesting Experiment

Have you ever noticed that if you perform a search for eBay on Google that they don’t have a paid search ad? On the other hand, if you search for Amazon, you will see that they do.

Well, there’s a reason you don’t find any paid search ads and it is pretty interesting. Back in March of 2012, eBay decided to try a controlled experiment. They cut off their “branded keyword advertising” by stopping the purchase of search ads that contained the word “eBay” on the Bing and Microsoft search engines, while continuing to buy them on Google.

Ebay soon discovered that there was no drop or change in sales, even without the paid ads. People searching for eBay were simply clicking on the unpaid ads instead. Intrigued by the results of this experiment, eBay conducted another one. This time,  they shut off all paid ads in a third of the United States, but continued to buy ads everywhere else.

Once again, eBay saw almost no change in their sales. They did note a very small and slight increase for consumers who were searching for something, but had little or no transaction history with eBay, but it really wasn’t considered a significant change. People, for the most part, that were wanting to buy something on eBay either just clicked on a the natural listing that is generated when something is listed on eBay or they skipped a search altogether and went directly to ebay.com.


While some might concede that since eBay is practically a household name, the study doesn’t really prove anything, but the real point of all this is for us to think about the importance of questioning conventional marketing wisdom. Although smaller companies might benefit from buying paid search ads, we really need to consider how much it costs versus how much “bang” you get for the buck. In other words, rather than stick to what you think should be a proven way to market, make a point to experiment a little with your marketing and find out what which methods actually work.

About our Guest Blogger
This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio

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