EBay report suggests SEO more effective than paid ads

Posted on March 16, 2013


The results of a recent eBay report has suggested that there is little effect on the outcome from paid ads, with most people clicking on these ads already being customers.

A spokesman for the auction site said:

“Incremental revenue from paid search was far smaller than expected because existing customers would have come to eBay regardless, whether directly or through other marketing channels.”

In the study, the firm took down its paid-search keywords from both MSN and Yahoo, whilst retaining it on Google. With the advertising removed, users were still clicking through from the links appearing through natural results driven by search engine optimisation.

The report, presented at a Stanford University conference, surmised:

“Removal of these advertisements simply raised the prominence of the eBay natural search result.”

Google countered the results of the survey by saying its own research showed a significant increase in click through rates from paid searches. However, a spokesman also argued for SEO, saying:

“Since outcomes differ so much among advertisers and are influenced by many different factors, we encourage advertisers to experiment with their own campaigns.”

It is also likely that the results for eBay were so successful as they have already built up a significant brand awareness over the years.

Smaller firms, both in the US and here in the UK, particularly those still formulating an SEO strategy, are more likely to attract higher numbers of clicks with a marketing strategy encompassing every technique.

Once indexing is at a sufficient level, giving more emphasis to organic search results is the natural progression.

  • Hi Carl,

    I’ve identified 13 ways how branded PPC ads can add value to a business:


    I guess eBay’s poor performance from their brand ads is a poor reflection of their PPC strategy, rather than the PPC industry as a whole.


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