Corporate Eye

EBay Unleashes a Goldmine of Data to Brand Advertisers

ebay trade showCan EBay join the ranks of digital advertising success that Google, Facebook, and Amazon have dominated in recent years? It certainly looks like the company expects to answer that question with a resounding, “Yes,” in the near future based on Stephen Howard-Sarin’s (head of eBay digital display in North America) announcement to the audience at AdExchanger’s Programmatic I/O conference yesterday.

Tim Peterson of AdWeek reports that eBay will enable advertisers to use the data about how visitors browse the site, what they buy, and more, which the company kept as proprietary until now, to target ads and increase return on investment. It is expected that big brands will be more than willing to pay for access to this new data, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Even though personally identifiable information won’t be provided to advertisers, eBay visitors’ search and purchase data alone could be a goldmine to consumer product brands. Suddenly, brands have an exponentially greater ability to get the right ads in front of the right audiences.

In other words, eBay (like Amazon before it) is monetizing its customer data by allowing advertisers to retarget the eBay audience. Ads must be purchased through eBay in order for brands to access this customer data, and eBay will handle its own ad buying as well as the ad buying for all of the third-party marketers accessing its data.

For customers, this isn’t a new concept. Most are already part of ad retargeting even though they might not know it. When someone looks for a product on Amazon or in a Google search and later sees ads for that product or competitor products on other websites, they’re probably seeing a retargeted ad. Since the content of these ads is usually relevant to the consumer, these ads are typically welcomed (or at the very least, they’re tolerated).

For eBay and advertisers, the announcement is absolutely welcomed. In fact, the only surprising thing is that eBay waited so long to do it.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Karlis Dambrans

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.