eBay Phillip Rinn was recently appointed as Director of advertising partnerships at eBay, covering the UK, Ireland, and pan-EMEA regions.

We have been talking to Phillip about his new role at eBay Advertising and the company’s plans to grow its advertising business internationally.

What did you do before taking up your current position at eBay?

I worked for Shopping.com, developing its business in the UK, France and Germany, and building up more than 200 partnerships in Europe. After this I moved to eBay Advertising International where I helped launched the international business.

What is your new role at eBay?

We have now decided to create the hub for our UK, Ireland and pan-EMEA advertising business, and I am responsible for growing the advertising business in these areas. 

We believe there is a visible pot of money for specifically big brand advertisers to spend in the pan-EMEA region. Companies like General Motors and Disney have a presence in these areas and budgets to spend on targeting consumers in these markets.

EBay has big international footprints and can provide excellent opportunities for advertisers to target these markets, so we are trying to leverage eBay as a large international platform, providing localised services to target consumers in specific regions.

Why did you decide to create one hub for the UK and pan-EMEA regions?

The UK is the lead advertising market in Europe, so it makes sense to operate from one single hub. We needed to stabilise our offering and create operational excellence out of London, and to know who is responsible for different areas.

We have an excellent range of user data and the scale of audience to offer advertising opportunities at both a local and international level from this hub in London.

ROI will be more important than ever in 2009 and we are well set to increase our market share with the targeting and scale we can offer brand advertisers.

Does eBay have many users for advertisers to target in Asia?

The business is focused on Europe, and this is our biggest market outside of North America. We have no websites for Russia or the Middle East, but we d have a strong presence in places like Hong Kong and Singapore, though our biggest audience in this area is Australia.

What growth have you seen for eBay Advertising recently? How will you grow the business in a recession?

The UK is our biggest market in this area, and we have seen growth in our advertising business for the last ten successive quarters. We have created a great platform for brand advertisers. EBay is not only one of the biggest publishers with a large number of verticals; it is also one of the biggest advertisers.

We know how big businesses operate, what their needs are in terms of ROI, especially in the current economic climate. In a recession, consumers are more likely to be driven online, either looking for more attractive deals, or to conduct product research before buying, something which it is much easier to do online

These kinds of consumers are attracted to eBay looking for good deals, which enhances the value proposition for users and advertisers alike.

What kind of behavioural targeting do you offer for advertisers?

We have the largest collections of different verticals online, which gives us immense targeting opportunities. We can offer:

  • Behavioural targeting for advertisers, based on users’ historic activities on the site, buying patterns, average spend and more, so advertisers could target higher spending consumers for instance.
  • Contextual targeting , so ads can be displayed according to categories users are browsing, to fit in with user intent to purchase, which can be a very effective method.
  • Demographic targeting, so ads can be placed according to users’ age and gender.

We ran a study into the effectiveness of this for a campaign PayPal ran to promote its top up card, and found that contextual advertising was most effective, providing four times the average CTR.

However, for these campaigns to have a chance of success in the first place, you need to have the extensive analytics data and the sheer scale of website audience. This is what makes advertising on eBay so effective.

This kind of data is crucial, and the media owner can be more successful than the advertiser in increasing the performance of ad campaigns, thanks to knowledge of its audience.

How are advertisers being affected by the economy?

I have been speaking to both brand and performance based advertisers, and both are still keen to advertise online thanks to the potential for both performance and measurable ROI.  

Both sets of advertisers find an ideal scenario on eBay. It isn’t just collectables and second hand items on eBay, but plenty of new products like iPods and sold on the site, making it a more attractive proposition for brand advertisers.

We can offer advertisers an audience of 15 or 16m unique users for eBay UK, and can help them understand the benefits in terms of ROI.  We have all the big names advertising on eBay and they run campaigns again and again.

What new innovations can you offer advertisers on eBay?

The main thing we offer is the targeting element, providing off the shelf solutions for advertisers to target the most relevant section of our users for their campaigns. So, for the PayPal campaign, we were able to deliver to target audience for the campaign: high-spending buyers searching for travel products. (See below)

We are also experimenting with more eBay specific ad formats and placements, integrating them into the look and feel of the site to provide a more consistent user experience.

Will you be offering more video ads?

We have been experimenting with user-initiated video ad formats, but not extensively yet. I think there will be an increasing demand for this in future, and it will become one of our growth products going forward, but it’s not quite mainstream yet. We will respond to advertiser demand though, and adapt in case of requests for these types of ads.