eBay advertising: How to use promoted listings

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Standing out on eBay can be tough.

A popular marketplace for shoppers and sellers alike, getting your products seen and sold on eBay is becoming increasingly challenging for every online seller. Understanding how to advertise on eBay is therefore key to growing your online business on the marketplace.

Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities provided by eBay to enhance the visibility of your products and boost your sales. A cost-effective way to achieve this is through eBay promoted listings, which gets your products in front of the right people at the right time.

But is it worth it? What happens if your competitors are also making use of the feature? Do promoted listings on eBay create a bidding war? How much does eBay advertising cost?

The intent behind this guide is to give you a general insight into the eBay promoted listings feature so that you understand how to advertise on eBay and increase your sales.

What is eBay promoted listings?

eBay promoted listings is an eBay advertising feature offered by the marketplace to help get your products seen by more people.

Not only does this boost your product visibility, it increases your sales potential too.

eBay promoted listings example

Promoted eBay listings give you the ability to get your products in front of shoppers when they are actively searching for items that you sell. Sounds good, right?

To make the most out of your advertising campaigns, eBay recommends choosing products that fit into the following categories:

  • Best sellers
  • Moderate performers
  • New listings
  • Seasonal items

While you’re free to promote any item you like, the products that fall into the above categories generally perform better when using the eBay advertising feature. We’ll delve into these a little bit later on.

The feature can be used by eBay store owners based in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Australia. The service is also available to US or Global Top Rated Sellers who are active on the US website.

But why should you invest in eBay advertising? Are eBay promoted listings just a gimmick used to increase the profitability of the online marketplace?

Your products need to be seen to be sold

Look at it this way. There are millions of products on eBay and standing out has never been more important nor more challenging.

This is especially the case if you sell common products with lots of competition.

To help customers find the items they are looking to buy, eBay uses an algorithm called Best Match. As there are lots of different factors that affect your organic visibility, promoting your eBay listings provides a simple solution to get your products seen by the right people.

How do promoted listings on eBay work?

The process of creating a promoted listings campaign is fairly straightforward. After logging in and selecting the eBay advertising service, simply choose the listings you want to promote on eBay.

Next, you’ll decide on the amount you want to pay if a click on your advert leads to a sale and how long you want your campaign to last. Then you’re all set.

When a shopper types in a search phrase, eBay determines whether your promoted listing matches with the what the person is looking for and assesses the number of online sellers competing for same search terms and how much each is willing to pay.

If your promoted listing campaign matches a user’s search term and you’ve managed to outbid your competitors (or they’re non-existent) then your adverts will be shown first.

This is why paying close attention to your keywords and doing your research is really important. You need to be using the right words in your product listings for them to show up as relevant for your intended customers.

Learn how to identify the keywords your customers are searching for and optimize your product listings for eBay’s advanced search feature here.

What do promoted eBay listings look like?

When you promote your eBay listings, the format and style is fairly similar to your unpaid product listings. An advert contains information from your listing, including your primary photo, product title and price.

The only difference is that the word “sponsored” is placed above your promoted listings on eBay. This is to ensure transparency to shoppers browsing the marketplace.

A typical promoted listings advert appears in a similar format on desktop as below. These are also compatible with other devices such as mobile and tablet.

eBay promoted listings example

In terms of placement, your promoted eBay listings are peppered among other unpaid listings that are returned as a result of a shopper’s search on the platform.

This means you’re competing for clicks against items that are picked up as organically relevant for a user through eBay’s Best Match algorithm.

eBay promoted listings example

What are the benefits of eBay promoted listings?

More eBay visibility can lead to more sales

It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but the more your products are seen the more likely you are to increase your sales. Visibility really is everything.

In a marketplace with hundreds of thousands of products on sale, the promoted eBay advertising feature gives you the means to get your products to stand out and be seen.

Promoted listings are affordable – no sale, no fee

Perhaps the biggest benefit of eBay promoted listings is that you only pay the platform when your listings lead to sales within a 30-day window. You’re not paying for clicks, you’re paying for sales.

If your promoted listings don’t lead to more sales, you don’t pay a penny – no matter how long you run an advertising campaign for.

Adjust your campaigns at any time

One you’ve created your campaign to promote your listings, the eBay advertising feature provides the ability to change it at any time. This means that you’re not locked into anything for any agreed time period.

Whether it’s changing the length of your campaign or adjusting the amount you want to pay, your eBay promoted listings can be adapted at any time to suit your circumstances.

Learn from your data and optimize your eBay product listings

eBay also provides its online sellers who use promoted listings all the relevant campaign data to help you optimize your listings. The total fee you pay for using the service appears on your dashboard, as pictured below.

Campaigns Graphs

(Image from eBay’s Seller Center)

The dashboard provided for your eBay promoted listings gives you access to:

  • The total number of times your advert was seen (titled “impressions” in the top bar).
  • How many potential buyers clicked on your promoted listings
  • The total amount of items sold within 30 days of clicking on your ad.
  • Your fees for the service, based on the ad rate percentage you selected.

You can use this data not only to work out your return on investment, but also as a means to determine the effectiveness of your product listings. Test and tweak the keywords in your product titles as well as your primary product photo.

Improve your natural eBay search ranking

A key benefit to using promoted listings on eBay is that you can improve your natural search ranking. As promoted listings generally lead to an increase in clicks and sales, your search ranking will also improve organically.

This is why it’s a good idea to be running your eBay advertising campaigns for as many of your products as possible – unless you’re fortunate enough to have secured a top ranking naturally.

Start out with 10-20 promoted listings you think would benefit from added exposure and traffic and monitor your results regularly.

Check out our article on how to grow a successful eBay business and get your product listings to the top of the search results page.

When should you use eBay promoted listings?

Although you can use the eBay advertising service on any products that fall into the platform’s category list, there are advantages to promoting certain types products.

As we touched on earlier, these are as follows:

1. Best sellers

A fairly fail-proof way to promote your eBay listings is to concentrate your efforts on your best-selling items. As these products are already performing well, promoting them is likely to lead to a quick boost in sales.

A fast way to identify your best-performing products on your top selling channels is to use eBay inventory management software, which allows you to access relevant data to make strategic and profitable business decisions, among many other huge advantages.

2. Moderate performers

A good practice to get into when advertising on eBay is to assess what items are performing moderately well through organic search. You want to accentuate and build upon what’s already working, using eBay promoted listings to accelerate your sales.

Items not quite getting good enough results? Check out how to optimize your eBay listings organically to increase your traffic and sales

3. New listings

Got a new product to market? Paid promotion can be a great way to kick start your sales for new listings. Promoted listings on eBay can help to secure those crucial first sales and enable you to climb eBay’s search ranking system quickly.

4. Seasonal items

If your products are themed or fall into certain seasons, think about using eBay promoted listings when you’re likely to see an increase in sales. For example, promoting fancy dress items from September to the run up to Halloween.

The more targeted you can make your eBay advertising campaigns, the more success you’re likely to enjoy.

How much does eBay promoted listings cost?

When you use promoted listings on eBay, you control of how much money you spend advertising your items.

While this is a clear advantage of this particular eBay advertising service, it can be tricky to determine what percentage of the final sale price you agree to pay for using it.

To improve the chance of your promoted eBay listings being displayed, you need to set a competitive ad rate. An ad rate is the percentage of your product’s final sales price that you’re happy to pay in exchange for using the promoted listings service.

For example, if you set an ad rate of 4% for your advertising campaign then your ad fee will be 4% of the final sale price of the item. It’s worth noting that this does not include the additional percentage eBay takes from every sale, nor does it include shipping or sales tax.

eBay also incorporates data from third parties who promote listings on the platform.

eBay promoted listings ad rates example

Remember, you only pay for your promoted listings when the clicks lead to sales within a 30-day timeframe. This means the eBay advertising service is a fairly risk-free way to gather data about the effectiveness of your product listings.

What happens when your competitors use eBay promoted listings?

The more online sellers who use eBay promoted listings and are competing for the same keywords as you, the tougher it is to ensure your promoted listings are displayed first.

This is why it’s great to make use of the eBay advertising feature when the type of products you’re selling through the platform are common items. Improving your product visibility is key.

But what happens when your competition is using promoted listings on eBay?

The more competition there is for the keywords you target through your promoted listings, the higher the percentage of your product’s final sale needs to be in order to get your ads seen.

In other words, it’s pay-to-play.

This increases the likelihood that your promoted listings will be displayed over your competitors’ listings, which means eBay shoppers using relevant search queries are more likely to see your promoted listings first.

eBay promoted listings can be costly when the competition for particular items is high, a process sometimes referred to as a bidding war. A bidding war on eBay promoted listings is when two or more sellers are competing for the same keywords in their adverts.

Who wins?

Ultimately, the eBay seller who can afford to part with the most money. Factors that affect eBay’s Best Match algorithm do not come into play when it comes to your eBay promoted listings.

This is why it’s important not to rely on eBay advertising entirely for your selling strategy, looking at it instead as a way to complement and build upon your existing strategies.

Learn more ways to optimize your listings, beat your competition and sell more on eBay to take your online business to the next level.

Are eBay promoted listings worth it?

In order to determine your return on investment for your promoted listings on eBay, it’s worth paying close attention to your promoted listings dashboard. Above all else, this monitors how many of your items were purchased as well as your ad rates and fees.

You can also see how many times your ads appeared and how many people clicked on your adverts. This allows you to learn from the data provided and optimise your listings and campaigns to be more effective in the future. 

eBay promoted listings example Graph

(Image from eBay’s Seller Centre)

Something you’ll want to take into consideration if you choose eBay promoted listings is that the platform takes a percentage of your final sale on top of your agreed promoted listing percentage – just as it would if you weren’t using the advertising service.

This is why it’s a good idea to check eBay’s weekly ad rate trends regularly. You can monitor when your product category’s average ad rates are more affordable for your online business or tweak the final sales percentages of your items to match or beat your competition.

Remember, you only pay eBay when your promoted listings are sold. This means the paid service is a low risk way to boost your sales and gain data about your campaigns to improve upon them.

eBay advertising: boost your visibility to boost your sales

By improving the visibility of your products by using eBay advertising features, you’re far more likely to see an increase in sales and grow your business.

eBay promoted listings offers a simple and cost-effective way to boost your visibility, increase your sales and capture data to improve your listings.

A good rule of thumb is to use eBay advertising to complement and build upon your existing selling strategies. Get more ideas for improving your listings for enhanced visibility and increased sales by checking out our ways to grow your eBay business video.