EBay Looks for Shop to Handle Digital and Social Media

Move Comes as Business Model Is Evolving to Sell New Items, Not Just Used Ones

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EBay is circulating a request-for-proposal to a number of agencies as it looks to pick up the pace in the digital and social-media arena, Ad Age has learned.

"We review our agency-partner needs on a regular basis as we reshape the future of commerce and how people shop," a spokeswoman told Ad Age via email. "This process ensures that we deliver against our business priorities by partnering with the most strategic and creative agencies in the market today." The scope of work is understood to encompass digital creative and digital media-buying, as well as social-media duties.

Venables Bell & Partners, eBay's lead creative agency, developed the most recent campaign, "When it's on your mind, it's on eBay," with digital support from AKQA. And Edelman, which has handled public relations for the brand for more than two years, is understood to have brought in mobile project work after a review earlier this year. It's not the first agency search this year; the company also conducted a creative review this spring.

It's unclear whether or not the scope for the business in this latest review will include mobile. But for a company that recently acquired mobile payments company Zong, mobile communications and the e-commerce platform is a key focus, as indicated by president and CEO John Donahoe in the company's most recent earnings statement: "We expect eBay mobile commerce to generate almost $5 billion in merchandise volume this year and PayPal mobile to exceed $3.5 billion in payment volume."

A number of the digital and mobile efforts have taken on a fashion and lifestyle angle as the company continues to promote its offerings for new, vs. used, products.

For example, the company just launched an initiative dubbed the "eBay Inspiration Shop" with designer Jonathan Adler, tasking consumers to shop with their phones and purchase items using a QR Code on a store front in New York City. At the shop's launch event, EBay CMO Richelle Parham told Ad Age : "60% of the items on ebay.com are fixed-price items; 70% of the items are brand new. We want people to understand there is a new eBay, that they can buy things new and now."

According to Kantar, in 2010 the company spent $82.7 million on domestic measured media, $52.6 million of which was spent on internet display. Other companies that fall under the eBay umbrella include PayPal, Skype, Shopping.com and Rent.com.

The online marketplace reported that its third-quarter revenue increased 32% to $3.0 billion, compared to the same period last year. The company increased profits to $490.5 million, driven largely by PayPal.

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