Thursday, June 12, 2008

eBay Shutters Ad-Sales System

The system had been up and running for just over a year

June 11, 2008

-By Steve McClellan

NEW YORK Online auction house eBay has shuttered its Internet-based system for buying and selling TV and radio ads, the company has confirmed on its Web site. The system had been up and running for just over a year.

The system was controversial from the start and received little support from the cable network industry, which eBay had hoped would contribute significant amounts of inventory. But the networks by and large stayed away fearing the process would cheapen the value of their ads.

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, a trade group representing the sales groups of most of the big cable networks, did not endorse the system and few of its members participated. Among the few networks that tested it were Oxygen and Ion.

Executives at eBay believed part of the problem was that the marketplace remained confused about how its cable ad system worked. While it was often referred to as an auction, it was actually an electronic RFP system where buyers could issue requests for packages of time specifying their precise needs. Sellers could respond and a negotiation would ensue, via the system, until a deal was concluded.

In October 2007, officials remained mum on how the service was being received but did issue a statement at the time that said, "We've been disappointed by the lack of broad engagement by cable networks. This has caused the initial testing to be slower than expected."

The company's cable media marketplace Web site has a short notice on it that says simply, "We have ended our pilot program in this market."

The company had been working with Bid4Spots on a separate service for auctioning radio time. That site on eBay has been closed as well and a notice urges users to go directly to the Web site for service.

Officials at eBay later provided this statement: "We have ended our pilot program in this market. We have been refocusing our resources on our core marketplace business and have determined that this initiative did not warrant continued time and attention."

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