Ebay performs u-turn on in-app ads

Ebay is making a return to the mobile ad space having previously dismissed it as not worth the time or effort with a native ad format that it hopes will complement, rather than distract from, mobile shopping.

Ebay

The ad network will launch in the UK before the end of the fourth quarter with eBay currently in talks with a number of big tech and FMCG brands. Phuong Nguyen, director of eBay’s ad business in the UK, told Marketing Week that the firm is taking a “curated” approach, choosing the types of brands it initially wants to work with.

“Ebay is a shopping platform and our users love certain brands. Where we can we want to have brands that are more aligned and accretive to what our customers are searching for,” he says.

To start with ads will only appear on the homepage, meaning there is a limited supply. Nguyen said eBay is talking to a number of brands but is not yet in a position to say which ones will sign up.

Ebay previously added ads to its mobile apps in 2012 but quickly pulled them after finding they were distracting and cluttered up the screen. Nguyen says at the time eBay didn’t think it was worth the time or effort to invest in mobile because the firm didn’t feel it could create an ad experience that worked with itshopping. The vast majority of mobile spend by brands was also in apps and games, which didn’t work with eBay’s proposition, he adds.

“It was one part eBay and one part the market. We faced a challenge in trying to find a great advertising experience that complemented shopping. From a market perspective it was only a year or so since we started to see brands embrace the mobile ad segment, it was a different ballgame and less accretive to what users on eBay were looking for,” he says.

Ebay has now got rid of the mobile banners that it used last time in favour of native ads that “will feel like a seamless part of the shopping experience”, according to Nguyen. Brands will be able to choose the best format for them, whether they want it to play a video, initiate a download or send customers to their eBay page or their own website, with the ads viewable across iOS, Android and desktop.

Initially the ads won’t be served programmatically, although eBay will look at how to add that in as it develops the offering through 2015. Currently around two-thirds of eBay’s display ad business is programmatic.

Ebay doesn’t say how much money it makes from advertising, which is part of its “marketing and other” division. It generated $450m from that part of its business last year.

However, Nguyen believes there is a big opportunity for eBay in mobile because 40 per cent of transactions on the site are “touched by” mobile. Users also spend four times as long on its mobile apps as they do on its desktop site and three times longer with its mobile apps compared to those of its nearest rival.

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