Posts categorized “Google”.

Google On The Move

Big news for Australian sellers!

Google Australia recently applied to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and was granted a financial services license to provide deposit and payments services to local merchants and shoppers.

Australian buyers have been able to pay overseas merchants through Google Checkout for some time.

We’re not saying

As usual Google Australia is non-committal as to when they will be ready to roll out the service. Spokesman Rob Shilkin confirmed that the company was working on options to roll out an internet payments platform in Australia. “It’s a matter of doing the due diligence and the homework so that if we’re in a position to launch we can do it,” he said. “But no decision has been taken.”

Other news from Google down under

Google announced a new dashboard in the Local Business Center in Australia and New Zealand to help business owners understand how people are searching for their online business listings. The dashboard will show which search queries led users to the business and how many times users clicked through to the business’ website.

Google spokesman William Easton said

“This Christmas consumers are researching their purchases online more than ever before – whether it’s Christmas presents, travel plans, local restaurants or home furnishings. There’s a significant opportunity for Australian businesses both small and large to tap into search marketing to further drive Christmas sales. There’s still time in ‘09 to be found online.”

“The most important thing is that retailers need to be conscious about ensuring they show all the information they would in a normal store. They need to have information about what products they sell, the places they sell them and their availability.”

Easton told retailers the more information a business has available on a website, “the more informed the customer is…and therefore the more likely they are to buy”.
To help new customers Google is offering vouchers for a $100 AdWords search marketing campaign.

Y’all come back!

WYSIWYG or Maybe Not

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) is not only the trust basis of mail order and internet sales, it is also a user interface or HTML editor. For eBay sellers the acronym has a completely different meaning.

How appropriate then, for a scamming website; that what the product sellers (who are the site’s fee paying customers) see is not what they get. Yes, I am talking about eBay. It is all about cookies and it is deceptive.

In October I blogged on Google’s September announcement of changes to product feed policy for eCommerce merchants who sell through a marketplace or aggregator like eBay or Bonanzle. and how they might impact eBay sellers.

eBay’s Matthias Klappenbach, Manager, Search announced, condescendingly, that sellers were not to concern themselves.

“Although the vast majority of traffic to eBay listings comes from searches on eBay, we know Google Base can help drive additional traffic to eBay and to sellers’ listings.”

He then went on in best BaySpeak mode, no actual lies but lots of misinformation. Business as usual on eBay.


eBay places lots of special cookies on your computer. On login eBay sets an astounding 30 cookies, the most of any site on the web. Any search sets 13 more eBay cookies plus 2 from Doubleclick. Making a search for completed auctions will earn the user 23 more cookies, plus 2 more from Doubleclick. Some of these are flash cookies which do not seem to get erased when you ‘delete all cookies’ in your browser.  Want to see what you have on your computer? This link takes you to the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager. This cookie fest is quite normal, many sites do it, to some extent and it is all part of eBay’s Trust and Safety program.

A seller, carrying a full load of eBay cookies, searching Google for their listing would see this image (right) after clicking on the item. Click to enlarge. Looks perfectly normal, right?

Back to eBay and Google search

You are looking for something special on Google, a specific  Italian vase, and you see one available  on eBay. You have never shopped on eBay, but you have heard of it.

Here is the Google result below, click to enlarge.
Now click on the thumbnail image above left to enlarge a screen shot made Thursday, November 19, 2009, 10:25:15 AM.  See all the other cross promoted listings? That is what a new eBay user with no seller cookies, Flash or otherwise sees.

I can’t say that I am surprised, although I am disgusted. What do you think?

Y’all come back!

The eBay Sales Slump and Google

Last week I wrote about eBay’s potential response to Google’s changes to feed policy which will go into effect December 1st 2009.

It is difficult to gauge how much of the current search dysfunction and drop in sales is caused by eBay as opposed to impending actions by Google. I am inclined to discount Google’s contribution at the moment for the following reasons.

In August I wrote “Historically traffic has taken months to recover from Best Match changes.” Barely three weeks after roll out of the Top Rated Seller project and simultaneous debut of Best Match II I believe we are seeing the initial results of the churn (def.#7). It is too early for the Google changes to be directly affecting eBay traffic.

Best Match II

eBay is flying by the seat of their pants on the Best Match algorithm, their mathematical genius and owner of the patent, Raghav Gupta (I am not being snarky, he is a genius) quit. It is very probable that continued tinkering with the selection process at the behest of eBay executive directives is having unintended consequences. Think GIGO.

Affiliate Program

eBay affiliate driven traffic is decreasing as affiliates are undergoing their own churn. Just as with sellers, who are being forced to evaluate the profitability and viability of continuing to do business on eBay, affiliates have seen massive “take it or leave it” changes to the payment schedule and structure. Changes which have lowered income for many affiliates, while purportedly increasing efficiency and value for eBay, have encouraged them to move on. Same song, different verse.

I am not in any way qualified to analyze anything about affiliate business but it stands to reason that less affiliate driven traffic will result in less sales for vendors of product which appeals to affiliate marketers.

Google Feeds

eBay is still uploading feeds.

A quick look at the format of the feeds will show that eBay’s goal with Google feeds is to bring traffic to eBay, any traffic. Not to bring a qualified and motivated buyer to the specific product they are seeking but to get them on the site and into the eBay finding experience.

It would not surprise me to learn that to some extent the pending changes to Google Shopping are driven by searchers dissatisfaction at being funneled to eBay regardless of what they are looking for.

Remember those ridiculous advertisements saying “Find ______ (insert word of choice) on eBay”? eBay’s feeds are a variation on that theme using organic search rather than pay per click advertising.

Advertising, Discounts and Coupons

eBay has chosen to embrace coupons instead of paid advertising for the last few years. Coupons work to a certain extent but in the eBay bucks format they are unlikely to bring any meaningful new user traffic to the venue for a variety of reasons. For the existing casual or occasional eBay user:

  • Low priced items only gain the buyer a cent or two per purchase
  • search is so difficult that the size of discount offered is no incentive to bother
  • the program is complicated, and
  • eBay bucks expire before any meaningful benefit can be gained by the occasional buyer.

Even buyers who are internet savvy had problems getting their money from the Microsoft cash back program last year, the promotion was so complex that (in my view) it generated negative attitude and distrust, which is lingering.


I think that the drop in sales is a direct result of the notorious eBay tendency to see the results they want to see in the data. If you believe that the majority of eBay sales come from on site traffic why would you have any incentive to improve outside traffic to items listed on the site? It is a self perpetuating problem.

eBay sellers I respect tell me that only a small percentage of their sales come from off eBay sources. This makes sense if the site is not promoting traffic inflow but relying on the user base and their own deeply flawed and manipulated search. I also think the sales slump is not site wide.

What do you think?

A blog post at Series Books for Girls talks about the recent drop in sell-through rates for eBay booksellers in her niche. Meanwhile I am off to buy myself a bird watcher on eBay, just kidding.

Y’all come back!

Full disclosure: I am an ex-eBay seller currently selling on my own website and

Big Changes to Google Shopping

I was aware that Google Base recently changed its feed policy for eCommerce merchants who sell through a marketplace or aggregator like eBay or Bonanzle. The changes are designed to give shoppers more accurate and relevant information when they search for things to buy.

The September 2nd announcement on the Official Google Base Blog was succinct.

“Marketplaces and aggregators will be required to use multi-client accounts to submit and manage their sellers’ feeds starting on December 1st, 2009.
As a result of these changes, individual sellers on marketplaces no longer need to submit a feed to Google Product Search. To avoid duplicate listings we will be notifying individual sellers and retiring their accounts.”

I read it, and didn’t think too much about it because Bonanzle was on top of the situation and realistically, what could I do about it anyway? Arguing with Google would be about as productive as standing in front of a train and saying “stop”. Since moving to Bonanzle I have become lazy about staying up to date with Google policy changes, and this is not a good thing.

I recently discovered that Google is now offering sellers who have bricks and mortar stores the option to list them in the Google Local Business Center which should increase foot traffic.

For Bonanzle sellers this is a huge bonus because Bonanzle has always offered a simple way to configure your product listings for local pick up.
You will find it in the Advanced Options tab at the top of your Booth Edit page, scroll down almost to the bottom of the page.

The opposite side of this coin is that website merchants should use the new “online only” attribute to indicate items that are only available for purchase online, and not available for purchase in-store or for in-store pickup.

Google has started a new Google Merchant Blog for website sellers.

Effect of Changes

  • Individual marketplace sellers may not upload their own feeds.
  • You will be completely dependent on your venue for Google feeds.
  • You will be responsible for making sure your listings are Google compliant.
  • Non-compliant listings will not appear on Google, for example you may not state Free Shipping in your title or have shipping information in your description.
  • There are different Terms of Service for the new Google Merchant Center for product and I believe, revised TOS for Base Users
  • Program Policies have changed

The Big One

“We do not permit duplicate products in the same account or between multiple accounts. If products available on multiple sites under the same ownership, one site must be chosen to exclusively submit those products. For example, if you own two websites that sell the same product, you may not submit that product for both sites, regardless of pricing or promotional differences. If you have one product (such as a memory card) that is compatible with multiple systems (such as different cameras), we require that you list that product only once - supported models can be listed using the compatible_with attribute.”

This is major for people like me who sell multiple quantity new product on both a website and a marketplace venue. It would appear that anything I list on Bonanzle must be deactivated on my website. I will be researching this and will post again when I have better information.

More Questions

How will this affect different sellers on a marketplace who sell identical items? I know that, for example, only links to the best buy in their marketplace in their Google advertising. Will this apply to feeds? I don’t see how it can, realistically.

Lots of food for thought here.
Y’all come back!


Edited for clarity 10/5/09