Online marketplace eBay is to run an ad trading experiment next year which will see it cease all regular ad deals to focus solely on programmatically traded campaigns for one week.
The e-commerce site will kick-start the experiment in the UK in the third week of February 2015, having struck tie-ups with brands including O2.
Speaking to The Drum, eBay’s head of advertising Phuong Nguyen said the company is in the midst of conversations with numerous other agencies and clients, the names of which it will look to reveal at a later date.
He said the move was aimed at helping accelerate understanding and best practice around “technology-driven innovation and creativity”, which trading programmatically can help open up due to efficiency savings and insights.
“Certain parts of the industry, such as the agency trading desks for example, really understand the benefits of programmatic, and therefore are excited about accelerating what they ultimately believe will be the industry’s destiny.
“Where we will likely see the most interesting insights from the experiment is around what happens with the traditional buying media agencies. How will they think about either engaging with eBay advertising or engaging with their trading desk as this experiment runs? How will they think about targeting, measurement and execution? We will start to see the onset of this technology-enabled creativity, which we all believe that programmatic technology will enable us to do, but we may not be spending enough time on to date,” he said.
The move will mean advertisers will only be able to buy ad inventory, spanning 1.5 billion weekly impressions, across eBay’s UK site using its programmatic technology for that week.
Last month the company revealed to The Drum its plans to roll out a suite of native mobile ad formats, as part of plans to scale native, mobile programmatic. This inventory will also be available to be traded on during the week-long trial.
Nguyen described the planned experiment as a “bold” move, and one which he hoped would not just test the appetite for programmatic in the market, but help encourage “business transformation” and alter established methods of trading.
“In an industry where we have embedded ways of working we’re not going to be able to initiate change overnight. If off the back of this experiment we can learn a lot and start triggering in key UK leaders’ minds in the ad landscape, that this is something they need to start fast tracking then that will be a good outcome.
“I’m hoping not only to accelerate the innovation in the space, but to try and see how businesses transform. I think there is a really interesting business transformation story that will come off the back of this experiment.
"If an agency is in an environment where a traditional means of them operating is no longer available to them and they have new technology sets they need to learn to cope and deal with and benefit from – this will show how quickly can they react to that.
“This will be the challenge to our agencies and clients – we will only be able to do business with you via our programmatic technologies. So if there are existing campaigns that are booked traditionally we will be working with our partners to see how they will adapt to this challenge.”
The experiment is being led solely out of the UK, but eBay Advertising’s global counterparts will be watching the outcome closely with the view to potentially following suit, according to Nguyen.
“This reinforces within the eyes of our global business the fact that the UK is a hot bed for programmatic and technological innovation. This is one of those rare occasions when Europe, and in particular the UK, may drive the strategy that the rest of the world adopts,” added Nguyen.
The company is also still trialling how to make video ads a viable revenue format for the site.