MESSAGE FOR EBAY OFF-TARGET

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MARKETER: eBay

WHERE TO FIND IT: Wired.com

CRITIQUE: As online auction site eBay prepares to roll out print ads and radio spots, let's dissect its existing online ads.

First off, these ads do nothing to promote brand loyalty for eBay's "community." But then again, these ads aren't aimed at existing customers. These ads are clearly about pulling in new people. Two truths of e-commerce: Everyone has a garage full of stuff that's "collectible" and everyone is looking for a quick and easy bargain.

EBay's creative that tries to attract these two groups heads toward the fork in the road, but doesn't choose which path to follow. Rather it splits the middle and tries to emphasize a different truth: Buying stuff online is cool.

The ads read "Buying it is half the fun" with the tag "Your personal trading community." Calling eBay a community site is probably stretching definitions a bit. Sure, it has a somewhat rabid following of Beanie Baby/Fiesta ware trading netizens, but these folks don't form bonds with each other.

The ads could certainly increase their effectiveness if, instead of hitting everyone with the same just-off-target message, they split their time between Buy! and Sell! to increase the volume for the eBay middleman.

WHO CREATED IT: In-house.

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