Let's try our AuctionAds affiliate ads again, this time with a more general term, "ebay." (That's pretty general wouldn't you say?
Oopsies! That one ran off the page. How about a medium rectangle?
One way to make money via eBay's affiliate program is to sign up via AuctionAds, www.auctionads.com, which won the Star Developer Award at the eBay Developers' Conference a couple weeks ago.
I've signed up for the program and am now testing the ads formats. You select the keywords you want to use for the ads..for example, in the below test, I put in the words "Coach bag," because, well for one thing I really like Coach bags and think they're quality items.
So let's see how this looks, shall we?
This is going to be an experimental blog post, via a vis the "three dot" newspaper columns...I think Larry King had one a while back in..USA Today was it? And I miss it.
I wish eBay would give us a feature to "send offer" to people watching our auctions -- keep them anonymous or not; I think a lot of people put it on their watch list and then fuhgeddaboutit... Can listing in a second category be worth it when it doubles your fees? I doubt it... maybe for big-ticket items..
Off-eBay topic..speaking of Larry King, oh brother, he just had to get a Paris Hilton interview..why do we have to keep hearing so much about Paris Hilton? And am I now part of the problem?
Can rap really be on the wane? And does that mean we will see more rock? Can it really be 40 years since the Summer of Love? OK, so I was only 2 then, but I heard about it.
All for now. No, wait..I want a new Vaio. And a Chumby. I don't think I'll get an iPhone right away. Let the price come down and let other people gripe about the first generation's flaws.
OK, that's really it.
eBay Live is now over and the eBay-Google foofaraw also seems to have died down a bit...first Google planned the "Tea Party" (I"m still wondering what they would have done..thrown Monopoly money into the Charles River?), then canceled it after working things out w/ eBay, eBay pulls its ads from Google, a Google sympathizer is ushered out of the eBay Live gala, etc.
(See Ina Steiner's blog post at http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2007/6/1182309976.html if you want more on that.)
I've been trying to decide what to make of the whole thing. Different people seem to have completely different takes on the thing: on the one hand, most of the eBay seller-type folks who left their thoughts on an AuctionBytes phone poll seem to be of the opinion eBay should allow Google Checkout, it's being a mean monopolist, etc. (I'm paraphrasing but that seems to be the gist of things).
As as an eBay seller and buyer, it would be nice to have multiple checkout options for people and myself. As an eBay shareholder, I think I can understand eBay protecting their turf. As a Google shareholder as well, I appreciate that Google is an incredibly competitive and innovative company. Should they be so aggressive with Google Checkout, however, or should they take more of a Ho Chi Minh strategy, and be patient for the long term?
Remember what happened with PayPal? eBay had its own payment system, Billpoint, and resisted embracing PayPal until it became clear it had gained so much momentum and was what everyone wanted to use.
At the eBay DevCon, early eBay investor Bob Kagle said of PayPal that eventually they decided they should look at buying the company, but at
first $300 million, it was too expensive, then at $700 million, it was
too expensive..."finally at a billion and a half dollars, we realized
it was cheap." This got a laugh out of the crowd.
Of course, this would not be a case of eBay buying Google Checkout. (At least I don't think it would). But I wonder if Google Checkout becomes so popular and there are so many people clamoring for it, eBay will give in and accept it. But they may figure, why borrow trouble before then?
On the other hand, an analyst I recently met said "Checkout is doing everything possible to encroach on eBay's domain. Many people in the community state that if Google wanted to trounce eBay they would have opened up an auction site. Google sort of did with their Google Base."
"Again, this was a typical strategy of Google. Open up something under eBay's radar and state it is not in competion with eBay. Over time if it was successful, Google would have transformed it into an auction site. With all of the money eBay spent adertising with Google they could have purchased a very decent search engine."
He cites mamma.com as one example.
I hadn't thought about eBay buying or developing a search engine, but it's an interesting idea. I have, however, seen all the eBay ads that popped up all over the place, and with some pretty obscure word combinations, when doing Google searches, and wondered if eBay wasn't maybe overspending a bit with the ads.
But one would hope they are monitoring the results of the ads and not spending where it was not effective.
Hmm..will eBay buy a search engine? Will Google checkout encroach more on PayPal's turf? And what about Google Base? Is that going to gain momentum?
As the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times.
I've made a youtube video of images from eBay Live. I put most of my favorite images in there.
I wanted to do a medley of songs, but in the end it sucked up so much time that I'm going to have to leave it with this one song.
By the way, if you haven't seen or weren't aware of all the eBay and eBay Live related youtube videos up there, check it out. People have posted the clapping tunnel, bits of Kool and the Gang, employees dancing, etc.
Here is a photo of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and me at the eBay shareholders meeting on Thursday, June 14, 2007. Pierre was very gracious about signing my card and having his picture taken with me. I thank him again. And thanks to photographer Phil Davies of TIAS.com, who was at the conference taking photos for AuctionBytes.com, for taking this photo.
Saturday at eBay Live was more craziness. I covered the Town Hall for AuctionBytes. You'll be seeing the story on the AB site most likely tomorrow (Monday). A lot of questions were about the perceived fairness (or lack thereof) of the new star feedback rating system, but the execs said buyers are happy with it overall. I'll be posting my thoughts about it later. I largely agree with them..I am mostly happy with the improvement as a buyer, but as a seller I think there is potential to be rated unfairly. Anyway, let's go to the pic:
The crowd gets balloon hats made while they wait for the doors to the gala to open.
Below, eBay Employee Cool Hair Guy and Me:
Kool and the Gang, below.
Who is Kool and who is the Gang? Did I really live through the 70s?
The eBay Live Town Hall is about to begin here this morning, but I wanted to post a few more images from the Friday madness before heading off to it.
Here is one of the most photographed guys at the convention ths year -- I don't know his name (I should have asked for his business card) so I'll simply call him "balloon hat guy" for now:
To the immediate left, a couple of the Marketblast guys. They were in the booth next to me during my eBay Price Guide signing at the Hammertap booth. (Thanks again to Hammertap, makers of an awesome eBay research tool, for hosting my signing. And to all the members of the Hammertap team for being so nice and helpful at their booth).
Speaking of Hammertap, Jen Cano of Hammertap gave a presentation to a packed room about using research..here she is below talking to an attendee after the session:
Every time the "celebrate" song by Kool and the Gang plays, the crowd here at eBay Live 2007 goes crazy and starts moving like lemmings towards eBay booths and employees blessed with bags of the sacred pins. I haven't had nearly enough time to just hang out on the Exhibit Floor and collect pins, but I have been having fun and really enjoying the seminars. And..I had two book signings today!
Here are two of my favorite eBay employees, who came to my "eBay Price Guide" signing at the Hammertap booth today:
Here's an awesome shooting star seller holding a copy of my book:
I have to go now but more pix coming soon.
The main event of the first day of eBay Live 2007 started off with eBay's own employee band, "Twisted Lister," who I thought was pretty darn cool. They've got the covers down; now they just need to start working on the originals. Because you know I always like to bring you visuals, here they are:
I think the guy on the left is the lead singer. I'm sorry but I didn't catch his name. If any eBay employees on there know it and are reading this, please email me or leave a comment on this blog. (An original...hmm..how about "She's snipey"...something along the lines of the Beastie Boys' "She's Crafty"? Only with a different melody. Ha.
After the band did their thing, the incomparable Griff (eBay's "Uncle Griff" and one of its earliest employees -- oh, you know who he is...came out and did a great ad-libbing audience interaction thing. I don't know if things behind the scenes were going late or not, but they sent Griff out a second time to do more ad-libbing before Meg came out, and he did it with humor and grace as always. Plus, he had a cool sparkly jacket on...it made me think of last year's eBay Live in Vegas:
Griff gave a lot of kudos to the sellers in the audience: "I don't know how you do it..where you find the time." He walked through the audience and asked several people what they sell, what they hope to get out of eBay Live and how they're doing. One lady, Barbara from Just Wigs in New Jersey, had been selling on eBay since the late '90s. Barbara's hair was a bright mix of red, blue, and other "primary colors" which she recommended for the head. "Do yo know you're wearing a wig?" Griff quipped.
Then Meg came out and did the traditional feedback countdown in the audience..everyone stands, and she asks people who have 100, then 500, then 1000, then 10,000 feedbacks to sit down. After 10,000 feedbacks, several folks were still standing and they all got a big round of applause. Then they went up to 100,000 feedbacks and about six folks were still standing! Whew.
Meg showed a video and talked a lot about the Giving Works program. Then she introduced the head of PayPal, Rajiv Dutta, who had some juicy stuff to announce about PayPal, especially in the Trust and Safety areas. Let's sum them up:
- They're bringing the PayPal security key out of beta tomorrow -- it's a small electronice device, which adds an extra layer of security. It will be available to eBay customers.
[Since] they introduced online dispute resolution, there's been a reduction of complaints by 50%.
And they're launching payment review, highlighting those transactions that may pose a risk. "You'll be protected, 100% guaranteed," said Dutta, to much applause.
- And while PayPal has expanded comfirmed addresses by 50%, "I'm committing PayPal will deliver we'll make every address in the system confirmed." This got even more applause.
Dutta then intro'd Bill Cobb by reminiscing about the time he first met him. Meg asked him "what do you think?" and he thought he was great but "is it just me or does he have a really loud voice?" Then he quipped that "back then he was just a tad thinner."
Cobb came out and joked "I'd like to thank my friend Rajiv who just called me fat."
I'm getting low on time to I'm going to summarize the major stuff he said. I'd like to come back later and add in some of the anecdotes:
- There will be no increases in selling fees this [July] (I think he said this July; he may have said this summer).
- eBay is now holding some items most favored by criminals before they go into the search
- they already eliminated private feedback [much applause].
Then he unveiled the new marketing campaign, based on a concept called "Windorphins" (in case you don't know what the heck that means, I believe it's a pun on "endorphins," those feel-good chemicals in the brain; and "win," as in winning an eBay auction. It could also be a pun on "windows" as in computer windows but I'm just pointing that out. They showed a video of a commercial that was coming and it seemed very cute to me.
Also there will be new features such as visual navigation, and a cool thing calld eBay countdownm that has a more graphical representation of the bidding interface. Here's a visual:
What I thought was most cool about this was, if you click on the pic to enlarge it, you can see the little funky bidder avatars next to the bidder bars. So bidders can have kind of a persona. (Hmm..will this make us fel bad when we outbid people? Maybe not).
- Also, a featgure is coming where you can place a bid WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT FOR YOUR COMPUTER TO REFRESH! (Cobb's emphasis).
- He also plugged the new video in listings feature by showing a very funny video of a guy selling an acoustic guitar...he showed himself in all kinds of states of dress including...er..without pants. (But Cobb urges us to "keep it clean.").
- Anchor Stores will be discounted $200 to $299.95.
- eBay will offer customer support to top buyers who buy 50% of merchandise on the service.
Here's something really cool. I shouldn't bury this in the bottom so later I'll try to blog about this separately. They're testing "Pricing and Shipping sort" - so it can sort search results according to the shipping and handling. This to me is very big, because the price of shipping can be a factor that is relatively hidden, and when added to the total cost of an item can totally skew the price results in the search. A $1 may have $39.95 shipping and make a similar $10 item with $2.95 shipping look relatively expensive.
- UPS is announcing savings up of to 31% on UPS ground and air by as much as 22%.
- The PowerSeller program - will be based now on both unit volume and dollar amounts, and they'll offer the option to high-level seasonal sellers on a seasonal basis.
Lastly (for now), starting in August, powerseller status will come with a "rebate" for unpaid item fees.
Oh wait...one more thing! Summer relief: 1st traunche of listing fees will be lowered from 5.25% to 4.25%.
eBay's annual shareholders meeting took place as scheduled this morning at 8.a.m, just before the start of the eBay Live 2007 convention later in the morning. I was there with Ina Steiner of AuctionBytes and Phil Davies of TIAS, who is taking photos and video for AB at the convention.
After a very rote series of votes of four proposals including elections to the board (including Meg Whitman), an IRC code matter, and an ESPP (employee stock purchase plan) extension, Meg Whitman got started with a presentation.
She joked it was a little early in the morning, especially for folks from the west coast (such as her), for whom it was really 5 a.m.
eBay's new mission statement is (you know you were wondering): "eBay's vision is to help people connect, discover and interact through commerce."
The three pillars of the system now are "Buy - Pay - Communicate."
Under the "Buy" umbrella, you have things like eBay, Kijiji, Marketplaatz, and Loquo. "Pay" is "PayPal." (duh). "Communicate" is "Skype."
Of course there are the stats: eBay's "large and growing" core biz:
- 37 global markets
- $1800 GMV per second
- 6.4 million daily new listings
- 80,000 API developers
If eBay were a retailer, they would be the 9th largest retailer in the world. In Q1 07, $14 billion was traded.
She acknowledged, however, there were some things they could do better. One of them was search. E.g., if you type "Madonna" currently, you can find some 60,000 listings.
That's why eBay is working on new search features, including:
- new search results
- new search landing page
- new relevancy-based listings sort - best match
Also they have some things coming to improve the shopping experience. When I heard about this one it reminded me of the "bid groups" you could set up with auctionsniper. the sniping service I use.
What they're doing is "bid assistance" -- "what if you bid on 3 items but you only want one?" In other words, I think, let's say you're chasing down a certain thing like an iPod and hedging your bets by bidding on multiple iPods of the model you want, but you only want to win one auction.
Feedback 2.0 - another thing they've introduced. "Feedback was one of the key innovations" said Meg and "sellers jealously guarded their feedback ratings." With 2.0, buyers can rate sellers on a number of different areas such as shipping time, etc.
Whitman said they have 70% adoption of this -- "I think buyers find it useful." She did acknowledge she'd had some feedback from sellers that "this is an extra burden, but I think this is the right thing to do."
They plan to streamline checkout --- I think she said something like from about 15 steps to 6, but don't quote me on that.
eBay Motors 2.0: this category has the most GMV -- sellers sold over 1 million cars, mostly used. An overhaul of the experience is coming.
Trust & Safety: they're doing things like safeguarding member id's, setting limits on the numbers of the types of items that can be sold which are favored by counterfeiters. "The bad guys are becoming more sophisticated," she said.
"We're only letting a small number of luxury brands [be] sold at a time because that probably weeds out the counterfeiters," she said.
She said when you pay with PayPal you're covered up to $2000.
Other things: with eBay Express, there are new search engines and shopping cart for the convenience-oriented buyer.
eBay acquired StubHub -- they wanted to augment the ticket experience; a best in class buyer-selling experience.
Growing beyond GMV - Shopping.com is the leading comparison shopping engine in the US, with 60 million products.
She also touched on eBay's growing Classifieds empire, including its stake in Craigslist, Marketplaatz (in the Netherlands), Kijiji, and Loquo. These are the #1 or #2 classifieds players in about 400 cities -- "this strategy pays off over time," she said.
She wrapped things up talking more about PayPal and Skype, and Skype growth statistics like it's in 28 languages and nearly every country (not North Korea, she said, quipping "that may be a while," to laughter from the audience.
Overall it struck me as a fairly sedate, rote annual meeting, with no big surprises. Even the couple of tough questions from the audience are the kind that come up every year...a lady from Peta got up and protested eBay's continued tolerance of the sale of animals on the eBay China site-- animals who are abused horribly ("beaten, strangled, or boiled") -- yikes! Meg said they would continue to engage in a dialogue and they did go by the laws of each country.
Another guy, with the Parents Television Council, complained about eBay advertising on tv shows with "foul language and graphic violence." He used CSI as an example.
The unflappabe Meg gave her usual calm response -- saying they would think about it and engage in a dialogue, and she'd be interested in what other companies of their size, such as Disney, do.
Well that's it for now. I'll post more soon.
I popped in and out of the eBay Live 2007 Meet n Greet pretty quickly, but long enough to get some pix of the crazy hats. (The theme was the Mad Hatter). Some of the buzz at the event was about how Google had canceled its "Boston Tea Party" which had apparently been a reaction to eBay disallowing Google Checkout on its ProStores platform (I'm going on memory here so check AuctionBytes if you want the exact facts...they have a complete story on it).
I was wondering just what Google was going to do at this party...get some Monopoly money and dump it into the harbor? Just have some Sam Adams beer 'n' Bostonian style bites? Or what?
We'll see what, if anything, continues in the saga between Google checkout and eBay.
Another cool hat. Sorry, it's sideways.
Can eBay DevCon 2007 really be over already? I have to say I think they did a really good job with the conf. this year. This morning I covered the Coffee Talk with Pierre Omidyar and Bob Kagle, one of the earliest venture capitalists in eBay, and now a general partner at Benchmark Capital (moderated by eBay Marketplace President John Donahoe) for AuctionBytes. I'll post a link to the article here soon, but for now here's a pic:
It was really funny to hear Pierre and Bob reminisce about the early days...especially the first demo Pierre gave Bob, where Bob said the site kept crashing (Pierre later disputed this, in his jovial way, saying that in a classic marketer/developer style he thought it was just page slowness and attributed it to a lot of traffic on the site. Hmm...)
They both opined about the potential of eBay Anywhere, and the empowering nature of the technology, and how it would be nice to see Nairobi drumsmen selling goods to people in Japan (drums?) And one guy who runs a language translation site got up and said there are some 400 million cell phones in Africa. Pierre agreed this was a great opportunity and he was excited about the mobile platform. (I'm paraphrasing there). Well, look for my article on auctionbytes.com because it will have a lot more detail. :)
Yesterday's afternoon keynote brought a handful of speakers, but the one who fascinated me most was Steve Adler (V.P. of Business Development for Chumby Industries), who unveiled the cutest little electronic device since the iPod. It's called the Chumby, and it will allow you to do all sorts of cool Internet things like hear Internet radio, check on your eBay auctions, get bidding alerts, etc etc. Well, Ina Steiner and I went up to take a photo of an actual Chumby so let's just go with a visual here:
Below is a shot of what they showed it would look like with eBay running on it:
Chumby will cost around $200 -- you plug it in, and it's "always on," kind of like your broadband Internet connection.
It runs over your wifi connection. It can bring you any content/service from the Internet. So if you don't feel like schlepping your laptop around to hear the latest AuctionBytes podcast, now you can listen to it from the cuddly comfort of your own lil' Chumby. (At least it looked cuddly to me..the thing looked like someone had wedged a tiny computer into a hackysack).
A little more about eBay on the Chumby, paraphrased from the presentation:
- get your eBay anywhere
- check auctions at a glance
- bid directly from Chumby
- tightly integrate with eBay and other related affiliate services.
So what do the developers want to know? Chumby is an open platform, like the firefox browser. It's a widget platform built on top of flash 3.0. Chumby is building developer and widget partner programs.
The first 2 chumby and eBay widgets are up and running.
When is Chumby coming? This summer, in late July. The price he threw our was $165. It will be "a new footprint in the consumer household."
How can you not want to hear a talk about search engine optimization by a guy nicknamed "Shoemoney"? It was thus I found myself at the SEO presentation by Jeremy "Shoemoney" Schoemaker (note the "c" in the last name, and that the nickname is all one word) at the eBay DevCon 2007 on Tuesday, June 12, 2007.
That's Jeremy and his CTO, David Dellanave, on the left, and Jeremy speaking in the session in the picture to its right.
If you don't know who Jeremy Shoemoney Schoemaker is, let's put him in context in at least one way -- the service he started, AuctionAds, a short time ago, is already one of the top eBay affiliates.
So what did Jeremy have to say about search engine optimization?
One nugget of advice he had: have your functionality in place before you implement it! In other words, be prepared for success. To put this another way, and I believe I'm paraphrasing Jeremy, if stuff doesn't work on your site, people are going to remember that, maybe indefinitely, so don't put a big seo campaign out there with a crappy site that doesn't have all its i's dotted.
Know Your Keywords.
Here's a great example that Jeremy gave. Did you know that "discount shopping" is more popular than "shopping" as a keyword[s]? So think of more "long taill" keywords, advises Shoemoney.
(The "Long Tail," in case you hadn't heard, is a concept/phrase and book by that name coined by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine, and refers to the "long tail" of the supply/demand curve, and in general how the world is becoming more niche-y).
What's a great tool for finding keywords? I've heard the praises of this one sung before. It's called inventory.overture.com -- and it "shows yahoo search volume" -- a great tool, according to Jeremy. It's so great, the Yahoo folks haven't even changed its name from when it was part of the Overture PPC service which Yahoo bought in GodKnows-00-What.
Another good one is GoogleTrends. I'm going to confess here and now that I know squat about GoogleTrends but I am looking at the site now and...wait; no I'm not, my browser is hanging.
Anyway, it's at www.google.com/trends if your browser doesn't crank up on you.
Shoemoney also dumped some SEO terminology on us...we got:
- reciprocal links
- SERP (search engine placement)
- the "index"
- inbound/outbound links
- page ran (PR) ("pretty overrated," he says.)
DO: Use keywords in the first position; eg "online auctions ebay," not "ebay online auctions"
NEVER use the same title on every page
DO...write a very human, readable description ("humans will make the determination").
Do use the keyword in the domain. Dashes tend to be discounted in the domain...one guy in the audience tried to make the case for them because so many domains have been taken, but Jeremy pointed out the domain name should pass the phone test. If it's hard for someone to read over the phone, forget it.
Jeremy also did some things to generate controversy, but if you want to read that juicy stuff, you'll have to read my bidbits blog tomorrow. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen I leave you with what they call "the hook" in fiction writing. :-)
Tune in for more Devcon madness tomorrow..including Pierre Omidyar's Coffee Talk!
The eBay Developers' Conference kicked off this morning with a big breakfast meeting in the ballroom followed by keynote addresses by eBay's John Donahoe, Kevin Lynch of Adobe, reps from PayPal and Skype and more.
One of the coolest things I saw was a demo of eBay's new interface called "San Dimas," which is based on the Adobe AIR technology. It's eBay with a very cool new look and feel, and the ability to flip photos in a listing, see charts of bidders' bids, get alerts, and in general look at eBay in a whole new way. [The pic above is a snapshot of one of the slides they presented about the San Dimas interface].
Product manager Alan Lewis described it as having a "rich, warm, feeling."
Many factoids were dropped as to where eBay, PayPal and Skype are today and how they've grown:
- eBay is now up to 233 million users
- 588 million listings in Q1 07
- GMV og $14.28 billion in Q1 '07
They've added "adjacent platforms" StubHub, Kijiji, ProStores, and Rent.com
- PayPal now has 13 million accounts
- It processed $11 billion in total payments
- About 40% of PayPal volume is OFF-eBay!
- 196 million users
- adding 250,000 users a day
- Over 9.2 billion call minutes in Q1 '07.