EBay Ads VP On The Push Toward Mobile Native, Viewable Guarantees

BDSince its split from PayPal – and the $925 million divesture of its enterprise technology business last summer – eBay has been relatively silent.

But judging by its latest quarterly earnings in late April, eBay is busy rethinking its business strategy. The ecommerce marketplace surpassed some analysts’ expectations when it posted a 6% revenue increase in Q1 to $2.1 billion; marketing services revenue increased 19%, credited mostly to the transition to mobile ad placements.

A total of 162 million global active users were responsible for transacting nearly $9 billion on mobile devices in the first quarter.

Like Amazon, eBay is a hotbed of mobile commerce data drawn mostly from logged-in users. EBay claims its app has been downloaded 314 million times globally, which is why it is prioritizing mobile and in-app native formats.

“We know that by 2020 nearly two-thirds of all display ads will be native and that engagement rates are 20-60% higher on native ads,” said Bridget Davies, VP and GM of eBay Advertising in North America.

EBay was among the first publishers to monetize mobile and in-app native ad formats via the DoubleClick exchange when Google first offered support for those units programmatically last November.

EBay says it only serves in-app native ads when they’re in view, part of eBay’s push toward viewability-based pricing within its private marketplaces.

Davies spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How did your native mobile beta test go?

BRIDGET DAVIES: We saw engagement rates that were over 3.6 times higher than average with click-through rates as high as 5%. We’re certainly believers that format matters, but audience and context are equally important in getting to the right solution. 

What’s the latest with eBay’s audience platform?

Brands can use our data and optimization tools to reach specific audiences, whether it’s moms, outdoor enthusiasts, small-business owners, either on or off eBay. We also moved into seller advertising last year, which is a service that lets sellers maximize their exposure on eBay. For instance, we rolled out Promoted Listings, which lets sellers reach buyers who are actively searching and shopping boost and actively improve the chance of a sale.

ebayphoneIs the eBay Audience Platform managed or self-serve?

It’s a managed service, so we only offer our data to brands and partners with media. Using EAP, we’re able to reach users with display, video and social, which aren’t necessarily all formats we’d able to reach our audience with on eBay, but where we’re able to off of eBay.

Are you augmenting offline data alongside your own eBay activations?

When we enter into a partnership with a brand, it’s always about what they hope to accomplish, how can we leverage our data and being consultative. If they’re trying to move offline sales, maybe we’ll leverage geotargeting for them in the eBay platform. To the extent they want to use their own data or third-party data to help measure, we are happy to partner and consult with them to do that. Without a doubt, attribution is critical.

How is eBay’s data set differentiated? Did the PayPal spinout affect it?

We continue to be incredibly bullish about this part of our platform and in no way has it changed since our split with PayPal. The truth is, we’ve always pursued the eBay Audience Platform with the kind of commerce intent data we get from eBay and that’s unchanged. The fact that we have such a large audience cross-device and logged in gives us a leg up. Being a commerce site, we know people who are transacting are people.

Is this driving your rollout of viewability-based guarantees?

Viewability is a critical factor. It’s not the only factor, but it’s important. To support that, we’re absolutely building it into many of our programs and setting up different tiers of viewability through private marketplace capabilities. We’re leveraging those plus our cross-device capabilities to make sure ads are seen by real people at scale. A recent Moat study found our average viewability score in premium ad placements is greater than 85%.

Let’s talk about the phenomena known as header bidding. What are the implications for eBay given Google’s latest moves?

Look, header bidding is great in theory, but I think it’s terribly complicated for commerce sites because it can put things at risk that are of utmost importance to us mainly because it’s hard to implement and there can be site latency or functionality challenges that hurt the user experience.

What’s eBay’s strategy?

We were one of the first publishers to develop solutions to leverage programmatic, so what we’ve done here is roll out unified auctions, which creates an even playing field. We’re creating an open exchange where bids compete simultaneously in a single auction versus a more typical waterfall where one SSP receives access to bid requests ahead of others. That’s something we’re doing after direct or private marketplace, but it’s really creating an even playing field for the open market. It’s been super successful for us coming from the commerce space.

Interview edited for clarity and length.

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