Are eBay Featured Auctions Worth The Extra Fees?
NOTE: EBay no longer offers featured auctions. See my article on How To Use eBay Listing Upgrades And Options Efficiently for current information.
Most people who use featured auctions use them because eBay says they will increase bid amounts. In this article I explain four profitable ways to use featured auctions. These methods are based on over 13,000 eBay auctions.
First of all let me start by explaining the types of featured auctions.
- Home Page Featured Auctions put your auction onto a rotation list so it appears on the eBay home page. Unless you are selling vitamins or diet pills, this option will be a waste of your money. I tested over 40 different variations of Home page featured auctions and never saw any measurable impact on the final sales amount. I tested both multiple item listings with Buy-It-Now, and individual items in an auction format.
My conclusions are few people look at the home page featured auctions, because they are below the fold (this means you have to scroll down the page in order to see them), and the limited number of listings - only six appear, and the volume of these listings in the rotation, means your auction is unlikely to be seen by anyone.
- Gallery Featured puts your item at the top of the gallery and gallery search results page in a special featured items area. Your item may or may not appear depending on the number of results, and the order of results.
Gallery Featured auctions may get you higher bids if your customers use the gallery feature. I haven't found this to be worth the cost, but most of my buyers are using dial up connections and not searching with the gallery. Another reason this does not seem to work well is the default search result page is List View, not Picture Gallery. Searchers either have to change their default preferences, or click on a link to get to the Picture Gallery.
- Featured Plus gives your listing stand-out placement in both category lists and search results. Like the Gallery Featured, this option will put your listing at the top of the category and search results. It does not put your item at the top of the picture gallery even if you also specify a gallery image.
The Featured Plus option is the only one I have found to be effective. The $19.95 is a good buy, and can dramatically improve your sales and end of auction prices if you use it correctly.
Four Profitable Ways To Use Featured Plus Auctions
The first way is to use the featured plus auction as a driver for other items. To do this you need a quantity of different items.
For example I sell used toy trains. I usually list about 20 similar items on eBay at the same time, and use featured plus for one or two of the better items. Then I put a link in the auction to my other auctions, and tell people to see my other auctions for more similar items.
The more desirable piece will usually, but not always get higher bids, and people will click on the link to see your other items. This is an effective way to drive traffic into your regular listings.
The second case when it makes sense to use featured plus is when you are in highly competitive markets and have multiple items. For this my tests have shown short auctions - 3 days - work best because it puts your listing in above the fold no matter how the search is oriented. I usually list a new auction every afternoon in order to make sure I have an auction starting and ending every day.
The third profitable use of featured plus auctions is when you are relying on impulse buys and have a keyword rich auction title and description. This is also for multiple items auctions. Again overlapping, short duration auctions work best because they insure your listing will be seen at the top of searches.
A fourth possible case for using featured plus auctions is for extremely rare and highly desirable items. I have seen some evidence that spectacular items will get higher bids with featured plus items. I mentioned in the first case that it is a good idea to use items like this as drivers for other auctions, and that sometimes the featured plus auction gets a higher than expected price.
While I wouldn't list an item of this quality without also listing other items, and I am sure that if you list the item in the right category buyers will find it anyway, but if you have an item you know is desirable and worth a few thousand dollars, a featured plus listing might give you an edge.
Note: As I am writing this - I saw a post on Jim Wilson's Auction Hints Forum on this topic and it gave me the idea to write this article - I am testing a fourth case right, but haven't gotten enough data back yet. If this works out, I will write it up in my newsletter.
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