POV: eBay Mobile Ads

Mindshare Point of View: eBay will reintroduce ads within its smartphone apps during Q4 2014 and tablet apps in early 2015. This comes after the introduction of mobile ads and their subsequent quick dismissal back in 2012, due to the belief that customers found them distracting.


This time eBay plans to use native ads, in the hope that in contrast to the banner ads used in 2012 they will integrate seamlessly into the shopping experience. In the beginning ads will only feature on the homepage with progression to product lists occurring at a later date. eBay will also permit brands to choose how they would like their ads to be displayed, with the option for the ads to link to the brand’s eBay page, to their website or prompt customers to download the brand’s app. Ads initially will not be served programmatically, although eBay will gradually phase this in throughout 2015.

It is rumored that eBay is currently in talks with both technology and FMCG brands, applying careful selection criteria to those it would initially like to work with.


eBay presents a huge opportunity for brands, as its apps receive over 4.6 million visitors daily, with engaged users spending on average 3 times the amount of time on eBay compared to the nearest competitor.

eBay also possesses a unique selling point as an ad-targeting platform, with its users  having  an identifiable  login across all devices and platforms. This, without the use of cookies, allows eBay to use first party data to map individual’s shopping habits, including their brand preferences and purchasing intentions and interests. It also permits the direct attribution of ads served to sales achieved across multiple devices. eBay has clearly been taking advantage of this, reportedly tracking over 290 million hours of shopping every month and building a huge database.

eBay plans to sell ad spaces based on items customers have previously bought or categories they have browsed. eBay is also taking its ad targeting one step further by offering an Audience Discovery Tool. This tool is designed to offer bespoke solutions to brands that feel that their target audience does not lie within eBay’s 60 predetermined categories.

It could be argued that introducing ads could annoy potential customers, as happened in 2012. However, since eBay makes a significant amount of money through its payment service PayPal, the company seems to be in an enviable position, with the ability to make money from advertising brands other than its own, whilst still reaping the rewards from subsequent transactions.


eBay is clearly aligning itself to become a significant player in the mobile advertising market. This can only be seen as a positive move for brands, with the increasing growth of the mobile market and access to eBay’s unparalleled consumer data, brands can be reassured that the ad space they are buying is not only customizable to their needs, but will reach the correct consumers.

It’s taken a long time for eBay to make the leap to mobile, catching up with other major online retailers such as Amazon. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the two data rich ecosystems match up.