In a move that has largely flown under the radar, eBay appears near completion of a switch from Yahoo to Google as the provider of its syndicated paid search ads. This would certainly be a blow to Yahoo and it is all the more intriguing given the sometimes contentious relationship between eBay and Google in recent years.
Over the past several months, our logs show that eBay had been testing Google ads for about 1% of its search ads, while the rest were being served by Yahoo. Around 8/26, eBay flipped the switch and we began seeing the bulk of its clicks coming from Google ads. Early this week we were still seeing eBay serve Yahoo paid search ads, but Google's ads were providing roughly 90% of eBay's search ad clicks.
While this move will likely benefit Google and eBay in the short-term, it is not necessarily a welcome change for advertisers. We've noted before that syndication partners often have significantly lower conversion rates than the main engine providing their ads. For many of our clients, eBay is no exception and we have often chosen to block our Yahoo ads from showing on eBay entirely. Unfortunately, despite years of advertiser requests, Google does not provide the ability to block individual search partners in this manner.
Certain retailers are going to be hurt by this move more than others. If your product offerings and keyword selection are particularly "eBay friendly" and you were previously blocking these ads on Yahoo, you could see a significant jump in costs without an equally significant increase in sales. eBay has a ton of traffic and some retailers could easily see 5-10% of their paid clicks coming from the auction site. We have been told that search network traffic is discounted based on quality, but that knowledge is not particularly helpful without more detail or the ability to make targeted search network exclusions.
As we've argued before, it is ultimately in the engines' best interests to provide greater control and transparency to advertisers. While RKG has tactics in place to handle the distinctions between Google and its search network, a perfect solution will not exist until greater control is available. How many advertisers will decide not to bother with the search network at all if eBay starts eating up a big chunk of costs without delivering the sales?