eBay: ‘It’s happening on eBay’

Case study - Objective: Change minds


eBay partnered with News UK to develop a real-time commercial content partnership reacting to key moments in the news agenda across The Times, The Sun and News UK’s owned digital platforms; perfectly placing eBay at the heart of ‘what’s happening’ in current culture.


Many people have outdated perceptions of eBay as the place to buy weird and wonderful old tat! So eBay set out to prove that it is so much more than that. In fact, eBay’s search trends very much reflect current culture, so much so that when KFC ran out of chicken, there were over a thousand searches for KFC on eBay (it doesn’t even sell food!).

The challenge was to demonstrate that everything that was relevant, cool and current during the Christmas 2018 holiday season was on eBay, highlighting eBay as a cultural barometer.

The big idea

The plan was to position eBay at the heart of ‘what’s happening’ and daily newsbrands provided a unique opportunity to do that. By partnering with The Sun and Times, eBay could reach a large and diverse audience, and partnering with one publisher (rather than multiple contacts) was crucial from an operations perspective, allowing eBay to be quick and nimble with News UK centralised support.

eBay’s audience is diverse but the biggest opportunity for growth lies with three audience segments; ‘nest building mums’, ‘established mums’ and ‘growing family man’ – a broad spectrum. However, newsbrands are a trusted source of information for all.

As well as a broad audience, eBay’s product range is huge. This meant that eBay’s own customer data, social intelligence data from News Corp’s social media intelligence platform Storyful, and eCommerce data from Skimlinks could cleverly inform the products featured in the campaign. This ensured that eBay was positioned at the heart of popular culture, while also guaranteeing advertising products that would resonate with its key segments.

Digitally, more of a pre-planned approach was used to ensure accurate advert tracking and sufficient reach – building creative in advance to tie into cultural events that eBay knew would be topical, such as Strictly Come Dancing.

Making it happen 

eBay had a consistent presence over the six week period leading up to Christmas, with bespoke eBay adverts (featuring eBay’s key product lines) aligned next to relevant news stories in The Sun and The Times. In The Sun, particularly, this approach allowed eBay to be quite ‘tongue in cheek’ and playful, such as running an advert for microphones next to the very topical launch of the new Spice Girls tour.

The content worked so well that it was seeded out on social too, activating an always on social strand to mirror this strategy of aligning with what’s happening in the worlds of eBay shoppers.


The campaign has significantly shaped perceptions about eBay among readers with a 56% uplift in respondents agreeing that ‘eBay is for people like me’; a 63% uplift in agreement that eBay ‘offers the brands I want’; and a 60% uplift in people agreeing that ‘eBay is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts’.

Crucially, the campaign proved very effective at increasing consideration, with target audience readers who recalled all aspects of the campaign being significantly more likely to consider eBay in the future (+118% uplift vs non readers). It also promoted call to action, with 49% of respondents claiming to have visited the eBay website and 34% making a purchase!

Data, insight and consumer truths have been key to delivering this reactive partnership with News UK. Commercial alignment to the daily news agenda on a consistent basis has ensured eBay is strategically positioned alongside trending news stories that really resonate with eBay’s audience - building on the relevance and trust that is newsbrands heartland and really landing ‘it’s happening’ in an innovative way

Charlotte Mullan, Business Director, Mediacom