Saturday, February 12, 2005


eBay: Is there anything they don't sell?

Many of you will have noticed that Google places keyword-based paid adverts on the right hand side of their search results for companies offering a potentially relevant good or service.

eBay has seized on this opportunity to advertise based on nearly every keyword, on the assumption that given their size, they are auctioning a similar product. That is, you type "cars" and you will see an ad saying come to eBay for cars.

Unfortunately, this is one of those examples where fully-automated technology fails, badly.

The following are completely genuine ads which I have captured. They were generated for a search of the corresponding term. Try it, it's fun.

First off: eBay selling brutal death:

eBay sells death, Image Hosted by

Okaaay... But wait, there's more:

eBay sells used underpants, courtesy of Indymedia watch - Image Hosted by

Admittedly I can see how there may be some perverted market for that sort of thing but this?:

eBay sells feces, courtesy of Indymedia watch - Image Hosted by
Words fail.

Notice the "aff." in one of the ads? These are affiliate links, that is, someone who has joined eBay's affiliate program whereby you are paid a comission each time you direct someone to eBay that either registers, bids or buys an item.

eBay isn't buying these keywords, members of their affilate program are, and eBay doesn't keep track of where the links are coming from, just which affiliate should get paid if that user buys something, etc.
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