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eBay Commerce Network Launches Bid Groups Beta to Help Advertisers Bid Effectively

In an effort to create a more merchant-friendly marketplace, eBay Commerce Network (ECN) recently announced the launch of a tool called Bid Groups that allows advertisers to apply new levels of granularity to their bidding strategy for eBay Product Ads.

What are Bid Groups?

Bid Groups allow merchants to segment eBay Product Ad bids by product brand, category, and price range, or a combination of those attributes. This provides more control than ECN’s previous capabilities, which required either SKU-level bids through the feed or less customizable bids grouped by preset high-level categories and price buckets.

As one of the main feed-based CPC platforms, it comes as no surprise that the ECN would release new bidding capabilities to move toward a structure that more closely resembles Google Shopping Campaigns. Per Merkle|RKG’s most recent DMR data, revenue from all major CSEs other than ECN declined at least 10% year over year for Q3.

Meanwhile, Google and Bing PLAs saw a 47% increase in Q3 clicks year over year. A lot of that is due to the sheer volume of traffic on Google, but the ability to assign tailored bids to each product and group of products is also helping advertisers to drive growth out of the product ad format.

ECN is likely continuing to see growth because, as shown below, a substantial percentage of its traffic is now derived through eBay Product Ads.

As that volume continues to increase it benefits both ECN and its merchants to have more sophisticated bidding levers.

This is because, while feed relevancy is important, advertisers are constantly seeking new ways to better and more granularly dictate the amount they are willing to pay for a given click.  The new Bid Groups will help drive more efficient traffic from ECN’s ads by helping advertisers show the best product to the right customers at the appropriate bid, which should help increase investment in the ECN.

The Impact of Bid Groups

Similar to the Google Shopping Campaign switchover, the players that stand to benefit the most are advertisers that want to apply more granular bids but don’t have many resources to devote to the effort. The new easy-to-use grouping mechanisms in the ECN user interface are very intuitive and don’t require any additional work to the feed.

However, for agencies like Merkle|RKG, these new features likely won’t move the needle. We already use brand, category, price, and a multitude of other customizable traits to calculate and submit an ideal bid for each product.

Next Steps

While Bid Groups is a solid development that points to greater sophistication in feed-based management, there is still a lot of opportunity to further enable advertisers to maximize revenue on ECN.

Hopefully this is a stepping stone to more extensive bid controls like bidding based on location, device, and partner site domain. Those types of controls would be more impactful for Merkle|RKG clients and would get ECN closer to the levers currently offered by Google.