eBay to shut down the eBay Commerce Network, its third-party ad network, on May 1

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As eBay continues to restructure its business, it’s shuttering one of the efforts it had made to expand its commercial footprint outside its own marketplace and walled garden. The company announced today that on May 1 it will be shutting down the eBay Commerce Network — a network that it ran across some 2,000 publishers for merchants to advertise products that matched content people browse on those third-party sites — as it puts more of an emphasis on some of its other advertising efforts, namely affiliate marketing and advertising on eBay itself.

“Thank you for your partnership with eBay Commerce Network,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve been proud to see our platform evolve over the past two decades. We want to continue providing customers with the best possible selling and buying experience. As a result, we are focusing on business that complements our core marketplace and discontinuing eBay Commerce Network effective May 1st, 2019. We are committed to enhancing our advertising portfolio throughout 2019 and hope you consider exploring our advanced core advertising and affiliate marketing opportunities.”

The company explained in a Q&A that it will be issuing refunds to merchants who had any balance remaining in their accounts, as well as paying out any balances to publishers, from the middle of May. There are also other products that will stay online and eBay is also suggesting them as alternatives. They include Promoted Listings and, for publishers, the eBay Partner Network, which covers 1 billion+ listings on eBay.

eBay Commerce Network first emerged in 2013, as a rebrand of Shopping.com, a comparison shopping site it bought back in 2005 for $620 million. In 2013, adtech had started to take off as a big growth area, and with Shopping.com having diversified into building a network for third-party sites, eBay saw an opportunity to double down on it.

For now, it looks like Shopping.com will remain online, although we are catching up with eBay later and will update this post with more details as we learn them.

There are many ways that retailers can target would-be shoppers online these days after they’d indicated an interest in a particular product — from Google Shopping, to retargeting networks and more. Collectively the scale of these operations can be vast. In that regard, the eBay Commerce Network, which Ecwid estimated gives “access” to 250 million consumers globally through operations in France, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and USA was a relatively modest effort.

It was also built around the use of third-party data — collected from outside eBay — and eBay has in the recent years made a bigger strategic shift from third-party to first-party data.

(That’s something that others have also done, although for different reasons: Facebook last year discontinued Partner Categories, a third-party data-based ad targeting service, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.)

We have reached out to eBay and will update this post as we learn more.