The online marketplace has big plans to bolster its digital marketing budget. And it is increasingly focused on leveraging influencers.

EBay Inc. CEO Devin Wenig has an audacious goal: He aims to have 500 million active users shopping on the e-commerce pioneer’s online marketplace, which is nearly three times the 175 million on it today.

To get there, he aims to rebrand eBay as the place online where consumers can find the exact item they’re looking for—be it a unique fashion item, the latest electronics or just about anything else—at a low price without having to pay a membership fee a la Amazon Prime, Inc.’s loyalty program that most U.S. members pay a $119 per year fee to belong to. Reaching the goal will take “hard work,” he told the roughly 2,000 eBay sellers at the online marketplace’s eBay Open conference in late July. “We’re going to do what it takes to compete, and eBay’s best days are in front of it,” he said.

The repositioning starts with its plans to significantly boost its marketing spending in the second half of 2018 and into 2019, he said, noting, “We’re going to spend a lot of money to bring new buyers on to the platform.”

Those dollars are flowing to ads across a number of marketing channels, including search, email, TV and radio and, most notably, social media. Social media, both in terms of organic posts and ads, is a “critical lever” for eBay’s marketing and media strategies, says Suzy Deering, the online marketplace’s chief marketing officer. “At its core, we look to focus on creating quality interactions with the eBay brand, raising brand awareness and consideration, driving relevant traffic and, eventually, generating buyer growth and sales,” she says.


Increasingly, those interactions are coming via influencers—consumers who are paid to produce content that they distribute on social channels—to appeal to younger consumers. It aims to leverage influencers who already have devoted followings to introduce them to eBay and the wide array of items available on its marketplace. “Influencers are the new celebrities and spokespeople for brands,” she says. “Connecting these influencers to your brand takes proper vetting to ensure the right image and right influencer for specific initiatives. We love the authenticity that influencers can leverage as much as the exposure they can gain. The personal endorsement provides an unexpected connection and can generate additional buzz around your brand, especially if leveraged outside of their specific channels, like video or TV.”

The online marketplace is also looking to other channels for growth. For instance, it is taking a broader view of search marketing.

“We recognize that search isn’t just happening on Google, it’s happening across other platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram,” Deering says.

And, on Google, it is looking to connect search to its broader marketing and media strategy via the use of the search engine’s targeting tools. Those include: Customer Match, which enables a retailer to upload its email lists to find its customers when they search on Google; remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), which let a retailer customize its search ads campaign for consumers who have previously visited its site; and Similar Audiences, in which Google targets users who are searching the same terms as users recently added to the merchant’s RLSA lists, such as Customer Match.


EBay is No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Online Marketplaces.