Ebay wants to be ‘all over TV like a rash’ as it looks to rebuild the brand

In a bid to be seen as more than just a marketplace, eBay says it will rely heavily on TV advertising as it looks to shake off a functional image.

While some might perceive eBay purely as that place to get rid of old Pokemon cards and CDs, it wishes you didn’t.

With 80% of UK sales now coming through new items – globally, ‘new’ accounts for one billion items – eBay wants to focus on top-of-the-funnel consideration. Essentially, it wants British consumers to see it as the first choice for buying new items as opposed to its historic online car boot sale reputation.

Ebay believes the key to achieving this will be focusing on above-the-line channels and this year’s Christmas ad (see above), created by DDB Europe, shows five different social groups at a school disco using products bought from the site.

Focusing on TV

According to UK marketing director Gareth Jones, the ad’s slogan of “the ultimate shop” is a sign of things to come.

He told Marketing Week: “We don’t want to be defined by that online car boot sale reputation anymore. We need to get people to consider eBay in a completely different way and over the course of 2016 we have re-jigged the way we spend money in marketing.

“The UK is the petri dish for testing a new approach to rebuilding the brand globally. It is all about a shift away from the marketplace and over to being the ultimate shop.”

Read more: Ebay could launch pop-ups in Sainsbury’s stores as it talks up the ‘power’ of physical retail

eBay’s Christmas TV ad focuses on a school disco

Jones openly admits that a past focus on prioritising digital channels has had a “small impact” on changing eBay’s perception. And despite being in an age of digital-based marketing, he believes TV is the best channel for brand building.

“We did some regional tests in the Summer and it proved TV is the best place to get people to reappraise eBay as a brand,” he adds.

“TV is still on fire and a wonderful medium to get neurons into people’s brands in order to rewire their perceptions. If you ask someone where they are shopping on Black Friday then TV is the best place to put eBay at the front of their consideration set.”

Using shoppable photos

Jones is also keen to talk up the role of shoppable video and photos. eBay recently launched a hub for plus-sized women, which includes a ‘shop the look’ button allowing users to instantly buy whatever the models are wearing in photos.

“The technology overlays an image and then scans through our whole inventory and pulls back items that look similar. We’ve mashed together that capability with Instagram too.

Shoppable photos and videos will become a great way of showing users that we sell so many new items.

Maintaining heritage

However Jones is cautious shifting the brand could have a negative impact. The ‘Ultimate Shop’ TV campaign will evolve throughout 2017 and will not forget the brand’s marketplace heritage.

Read more: Facebook set to rival Ebay as it introduces ‘Marketplace’ service

He concluded: “If we want to create emotional resonance than nothing is better than TV and I see an opportunity around something like the Star Wars movie to do an ad showing all the old school Star Wars toys we sell. We can also talk about the marketplace within that – so this isn’t about abandoning it completely.

“We have so many wonderful stories to tell and have perhaps forgotten about them by being too functional. When it comes to the power of brand, machine learning AI and the role TV can play, we’re all over it like a rash [in 2017]. We want to be the biggest retailer in the world.”