With New CMO, eBay Extends Holiday Season to Become Browsing Destination

Shopping Site Will Report Separately From PayPal for First Time This Season

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EBay wants to help sellers reach shoppers with scarce items.
EBay wants to help sellers reach shoppers with scarce items. Credit: EBay

EBay wants to do the heavy lifting this holiday season. In its quest to become more of a destination retailer and less of a search-driven source for secondhand goods, the 20-year-old company is unveiling a series of marketing initiatives and promotional deals designed to help shoppers and sellers alike.

On Nov. 2, the San Jose, Calif.-based company unveils its Wish Bigger campaign, which will include a single "holiday hub" website address for all seasonal shopping, and a "heatmap" that tracks hot items in different regions. By researching must-have, sold-out items and supplying a list, eBay offers a service to its 25 million sellers, who can market their own items to consumers accordingly. This year's scarce toys include a LEGO Lord of the Rings tower, a Star Wars Kylo Ren lightsaber and a Barbie Dreamhouse grocery store.

"We have to make it easy," said Suzy Deering, who joined eBay as CMO two months ago. "We don't want to be the place where people come in and get out—we want to be about discovery." She noted that the company will have hundreds of employees dedicated to researching information for sellers around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The company, which has some 800 million listings, also is focusing on expanding the traditional key holiday selling period. Some deals are aimed at travelers shopping by mobile devices on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a key time for mobile use. EBay also will offer Boxing Day services, such as drop-off locations at malls for unwanted gifts on the weekend following Christmas.

The holiday campaign will be digital, including video, display ads, social media and streaming radio partnerships. Ms. Deering declined to say how much eBay is spending on its holiday push this year, but did note that spending is up. The company spent roughly $12.8 million on U.S. measured media for November and December in 2014, according to Kantar Media. Last year, the company invested in a "shop the world" global campaign that included TV spots.

"This is the first time eBay has created an integrated consumer campaign," noted Ms. Deering. EBay worked with Digitas, Edelman and Triad on this year's holiday effort.

While the holiday selling season is crucial to any retailer, there's more at stake this year for eBay, which will now be reporting fourth-quarter sales as a separate company from PayPal, the payment service that was spun off earlier this year. For the third quarter, the first earnings period since the split, eBay exceeded investor expectations by reporting $2.1 billion in revenue. However, that figure was down 2% from the year-earlier period.

Meanwhile, competitor Amazon is rolling out its own gift-finder tool to aid customers this holiday season. The retailer also will allow Prime members to get an earlier jump on certain Black Friday deals.

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