"We found that we were not as dependent on Google AdWords as some may have thought," an eBay spokeswoman said. "By re-allocating our marketing dollars to our other partners, such as Yahoo, AOL and MSN, we were able to increase traffic and find efficiencies that will enable us to drive more value to our sellers and partners going forward. We are now slowly turning AdWords back on, in a much more limited way than before."
Suffered little without Google
Early analysis from Hitwise suggested eBay was suffering little without Google AdWords traffic -- much of its traffic from Google comes from organic or unpaid search results and much of that is purely navigational. Much of eBay's paid traffic, suggested Hitwise General Manager Bill Tancer, may actually be in the tail of the query stream. The auction leader will continue to buy search ads across a variety of engines, including Yahoo, AOL and MSN.
Despite eBay's calling it a test, few were buying that reasoning. Bad blood had pooled over the past several weeks thanks to an increased effort by Google to market its online payment service Checkout, a competitor to eBay's PayPal. Google was set to host a party for eBay power sellers to promote Checkout during the annual eBay Live confab in Boston. EBay pulled its search ads from Google and they remained off even after Google canceled the party.
Before the experiment, eBay was one of Google's biggest advertisers, with automatically generated ads that often elicited chuckles -- according to Google search ads one could buy "grass stains for less" on eBay and even the apocalypse was at one time for sale.
According to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney, eBay accounted for perhaps 2% of Google's gross revenue and profits in 2006.