Q&A: Alex Von Schirmeister, vice-president of marketing for Europe, eBay

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Marketing Week (MW): What has eBay done to increase its brand value by 15% to $10.73bn (£6.54bn) in this year’s BrandZ ranking?

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Alex Von Schirmeister (AVS): The increase is recognition of the fundamental transformation that eBay has been undergoing over the past few years. More people are now visiting the dedicated fashion outlet we launched last year with a big marketing campaign. The fashion campaign has also had a positive effect on the eBay mother brand because they often end up also buying from another category.

MW: How is this different from what eBay used to represent?

AVS: More than 57% of transactions that happen on eBay globally are at a fixed price, mostly sold by professional sellers, or high street retailers who use the site as a distribution channel. That is a far cry from the old eBay that was associated with being an auction platform for rare or used items.

MW: How well do consumers understand eBay’s evolution?

AVS: Most people still think of eBay as an auction site. But our brand and communication investments emphasise that eBay sells products from retailers, which our brand trackers are picking up. Some of our marketing campaigns, whether digital or above the line, are more explicit about that new positioning.

MW: Amazon has also performed very well, with its brand value increasing 37% to $37.6bn (£22.9bn). How do you plan to differentiate your brand identity further?

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AVS: People have many options for where they can spend their money and Amazon is one of those. But our buyers tend to be very different. When you look at the brand character of Amazon compared with eBay, and the attributes of buyers and the loyalty they have towards the site, you’ll notice we are two brands with very different personalities. EBay buyers tend to spend a lot of time on the site – over an hour a month on average – because they are actually enjoying the shopping experience. We don’t represent or sell our own brand so we don’t compete with the brands we work with. In that sense, we are a neutral platform.

MW: How important is the development of your content to this new audience?

AVS: In all our markets we use different social media points, either through our own blogs or on Facebook. We are also partnering with external brands. For example, in the UK last year we had a partnership with Look magazine and in Germany, where we launched the outlet this year, we have strong associations with leading bloggers.

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