You've done it. I've done it. We've all done it. PPC can be hazardous if it's not carefully watched. Sure, you can hire a PPC management firm and dispense the buck and responsibility to a third party.

But that doesn't actually dispense with any of the liability …

No. That's just an illusion. You can fire the firm, but Google won't give you your money back. They might like your money so much that they send you some Google swag — but that's about all you can expect to numb the pain. Wow, a fridge for $5000.00 — now I feel better!

That's not to say one can't do well with PPC. Many do. I just find the PPC process less-than-enchanting. Maybe I'm biased because I found out one day that between a news story and/or some bad luck, I lost a wad of cash a few times. But I'd much prefer the pay-per-conversion scenario. Less risk, no outside firm necessary to manage campaigns on a constant basis, etc.

eBay is making it a whole lot cheaper to feed them with databases of products — and economically at that.

eBay, last year, began to court larger businesses with a fixed price auction fee of $0.35/mo. Now they're opening up the floodgates with their API by allowing for product variations for the same price (color, size, etc.). Whereas you once needed to list your items in n-factorial incarnations for a product in 3 colors, it's now 1 for the price of 1 listing (up to 120 permutations) — with enhanced usability. Right now they're piloting it in certain categories, but I expect it will roll out throughout the category tree over 2009. See http://pages.ebay.com/sell/variation/index.html

"Include multiple product variations in one Fixed Price listing. Price each variation just the way you want. For example, sell all the colors and sizes of Hanes Women's and Girls' Classic Fit shirts in a single 35ยข listing. Charge $7.95 for girls' sizes and $9.95 for women's."

Same $0.35 fee. Did it catch my eye? Yes Siree, it did.

You should be watching too. If you can afford the ~10% tariff at the end, it's definitely another channel to attack. Even if your business already does well in PPCs & CSEs, eBay is making an extremely appealing offer. They will rarely cannibalize your sales (as is, they make it difficult for people to find out that you have a web site for obvious reasons), and it's more along the lines of pay-per-conversion.

ebay fixed price variations

With some programming, all of it can be automated — simply check off the items you want to submit (even if there are variations), hit submit, and the orders can theoretically flow in. We believe eBay is trying to market themselves more-and-more to larger brick-and-mortars and companies that generally use automation, in addition to their original mom-and-pop constituency. By only offering these rates for fixed price auctions, they avoid cannibalizing their bread-and-butter — auctions — too much.

By the way, SEO Egghead, Inc. can do this sort of eBay integration with our eCommerce framework. We think this is a very exciting development from eBay, indeed. If you're interested, talk to us or look over here. The documentation is a bit sparse, but we have it working, and can customize a solution for your particular set of business rules. If you fit neatly in one of the eBay pilot categories, certainly let us know as well.

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