EBay ‘Experimenting’ With Google Ad Spend

If you’re in the U.S., Google search advertising isn’t going to help
you “find it on eBay” today.

That’s because eBay is “experimenting”
with other methods to optimize traffic to its site, company
spokesperson Hani Durzy told internetnews.com.

The move follows Google’s recently canceled plans to host an event in
Boston, the site of this year’s eBay Live, to protest a clause in
eBay’s terms of service that prohibits merchants from using Google
Checkout.

But Durzy, while agreeing that eBay is pleased Google canceled the
controversial “Freedom Party,” said the timing of its experiment was
mere coincidence.

“We’re constantly experimenting,” Durzy said.

A Google spokesperson told internetnews.com he couldn’t
comment on “individual advertiser relationships or spending” other
than to say Google “look[s] forward to a continued positive
relationship with eBay.”

But a source familiar with the matter said the
connection between eBay’s displeasure with Google’s Boston party and
eBay’s decision to withhold its enormous ad spend is real.

This source said eBay does in fact experiment constantly, but that
there’s no doubt Google’s party helped catalyze eBay’s experimentation.

Google announced the party in a blog post on Monday. “Are you an
online seller attending eBay Live! in Boston this week? If so, join
us for a celebration of user choice at the Google Checkout Freedom
Party on Thursday night (6/14),” the post read.

But by yesterday, Google had canceled the event, announcing the
decision in another post. “After speaking with officials at eBay, we
at Google agreed that it was better for us not to feature this event
during the eBay Live conference,” it read.

At the heart of the matter is the reality of “co-opetition,” the
sometimes uncomfortable combination of competition and cooperation
between businesses on the Internet. In this case, eBay depends on
Google advertising to refer buyers to its site, and Google depends on
eBay’s advertising budget for much of its revenue. But the companies
also compete.

Google insists Google Checkout isn’t supposed to compete with eBay’s
payment service PayPal. But industry watchers don’t necessarily
believe that, and eBay might not either. And even if Google Checkout
isn’t necessarily supposed to dig into eBay’s revenues, the payments
system could help Google create a marketplace of buyers and sellers
to rival eBay’s.

So for Google to show up at eBay Live ready to hand
out invitations to its own party was likely off-putting. That much even
Durzy would admit.

“It was disappointing,” Durzy said of the party. “We were pleased to
see it canceled.”

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