Insights & Influence: Q&A with eBay Advertising

Hot off the heels of their ‘insights and influence’ offering, RetailTechNews talks to Mike Klinkhammer (pictured below), director of sales, EU, eBay Advertising, about the thought process behind this roll-out, the incentives eBay advertising is offering its advertisers, and the role DTCs are playing in their evolution. 

RetailTechNews: What is the purpose of your new shopper ‘insights and influence’ offering?

Mike Klinkhammer: Our new ‘insights and influence’-based offer has been designed to help advertisers deliver more impactful campaigns by providing them with greater control through a more transparent ad-buying experience. And, with our rich insights and a holistic approach that spans the entire customer journey, clients will see their ad campaigns run with improved performance.

At eBay, we’re working closely with brands and agencies to help them understand, target, and influence customer groups at scale, from early stage inspiration through to purchase. To make that happen, not only are we putting together a dedicated insights team, we’re building a new in-house sales team to bridge the gap between eBay and its advertisers, and to help brands and agencies reach their objectives with campaigns that have been shaped by our shopper data and insights.

What issues have brands come across to date, regarding transparency and effectiveness across touchpoints?

As advertising becomes more digitally enabled, understanding where your money is going, and how you can get the best value from your spend, isn’t always crystal clear. Brands have been left in the dark about how their advertising budgets move through the supply chain; and that’s one of the issues we identified for brands when reforming our advertising offer.

Rightly, we’ve seen that brands are increasingly seeking greater transparency and effectiveness across all customer touchpoints. We want our business to deliver against what our clients want, without adding smoke and mirrors to the process. With greater transparency, marketers are better equipped to make smarter, better informed, and more effective decisions.

The need for improved performance is also giving brands a headache. We’re making performance a priority by optimising our own supply path, improving ad quality, and even developing our own ad-tech stack. In-housing our sales function has also helped us to develop more open, collaborative, and innovative partnerships with our advertiser clients – ensuring we’re delivering exactly what they need to maximise return on investment on their campaigns.

How does eBay’s advertising offering differ from Amazon’s offering?

We have an impressive 177 million shoppers globally on eBay. That means our insights are robust, reliable, and refined for what our clients want. On eBay, there’s a fantastic shopper marketing opportunity for retailers to get closer to their customers while they’re in the buying mindset – and they can use our wealth of insights to influence shoppers at every stage of the customer journey, from the moment shoppers consider a new set of headphones, right through to when they pay for them.

Mike Klinkhammer, Director of Sales, EU, eBay Advertising

The industry has long been aware of digital shopper marketing; but it’s great to see that more retailers are now really cottoning on to the potential to complement sales with advertising on e-commerce platforms. With eBay, they can capture the right audiences and activate this opportunity at scale.

What data can brands leverage from eBay Advertising? How can they action this to best engage their audiences?

We have access to powerful demographic, geographic, and contextual data – including the keywords and categories people search for in real time. We are privileged to have a vast wealth of insights into customers and their shopping habits, which we’ve built up over a number of years – and we’re constantly analysing how shopping behaviour changes. And, with our new insights team, we can ensure that we’re providing the best (anonymised) information possible into our customers, based on their unique eBay buying behaviour.

Post-GDPR, contextual targeting has made a comeback. This is something we’ve always done at eBay, but far from a forced resurgence of an outdated way of advertising, contextual targeting 2.0 presents a big opportunity for brands to get closer to consumers with relevant content. For example, if a customer is searching for lawnmowers, then they may well be interested in products such as weed killer or even local service offerings such as gardening – advertised via eBay’s Local Services Ads tool. The proliferation of programmatic means that – unlike in the past, with manual media buys – ads based on contextual data can be served in real time and deliver scale, but also granularity.

eBay’s powerful data allows us to go beyond the banner and really be a strategic partner to brands and agencies – who tell us they’re looking for deeper collaborations to deliver innovative, effective campaigns that give them an edge over competitors. We’re busy refining our offer to allow us to do just that on a bigger scale.

As eBay looks to grow its advertising business, do you feel that direct-to-consumer brands will be a big part of your clientele? If so, why is eBay a good platform for these brands?

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are a natural fit for eBay, as both retailers and as advertisers, and we already work with a number of DTC brands, including Dyson, Lego, and Simba mattresses.

These brands are great to collaborate with because of their attitude. They’re keen to keep up with the future of retail, eager to try new things, and are digital-savvy. They also have an innate understanding of the power that digital marketing channels and smart insights can have when forming meaningful relationships with their customers. E-commerce sites, like ourselves, are perfectly placed to both build relationships and drive sales, providing DTC brands with a new route to market and an additional platform to promote their product.

We’re seeing a general growth in the number of DTC brands in the marketplace; and it’s no coincidence that we’re also seeing a boom in promoted listings – which are the perfect tool for them – on eBay. Many DTCs are well-versed in the benefits of shopper marketing and will only contribute to the rising convergence of e-commerce and advertising.