Video Ads

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Video ads launched in my eBay tenure


Users annoyed by obnoxious video ads


eBay chose advertising as a lever it could pull to ensure a steady revenue stream to complement its commerce base. Faced with these increase revenue demands, the advertising team began a controversial initiative to explore video ads.

A video ad people like banner

The Work

The Problem

A visceral reaction

The visceral reaction from many of our partners at eBay mirrored the general sentiment towards video ads from buyers: Video ads were distracting, slow, and generally detrimental to the user experience. As the designer for our advertising products, I didn't want to give a flat 'no' to the product team and find the product implemented without any guidance. Instead, I asked all of our partners to consider what a good video experience would be on eBay, then build an advertising product around it.

Inspiring a positive vision

Our rules

To begin, we created four principals to guide our work and define what a good video ad could be:

  1. Use video to enhance the shopping experience, not distract from it
  2. Treat the video as first-class content
  3. Every video should inspire a browse or purchase decision
  4. Respect the basic rules of usability and politeness

Content maps

When researching what defined a good video experience, such as browsing videos on YouTube or watching a movie on Netflix, we noted many commonalities around context for video, when autoplay was appropriate, and the various methods to make video an accessible experience. We also researched the types of video media our users engaged with – creating the descriptors 'heroic, information, and attractive,' then attaching that to different parts of our shopping funnel.

Content map aligned to the shopping funnel
Content map aligned to pages

From there, we worked with product teams to imagine how video would integrate into a shopping-first experience. I paired this with content examples developed for each type - what type of advertisers may use each spot, how we would measure engagement (clicks, views, or sales) and finally, created a business case for our plan with the help of product owners.

Define a northstar

Think big from the start

Our first specific proposal was to build a video product based on movie trailers. They're high quality content that people genuinely enjoy, have massive marketing campaigns, and pair well with the devoted collectors and fans that make up a large portion of eBay's user base.

The final proposal

We already had a marketing and sales partnership with Marvel Entertainment, as an example. What if we hosted an exclusive trailer for for the next big Marvel movie, paired with verified merchandise from trusted sellers? This would give us another avenue to increase shopper discovery and trust in our platform while promoting the unique value proposition of eBay's marketplace.

If implemented, this would have been the first shoppable video experience on eBay, and a natural fit for our collectible-obsessed markets. It was never built. The concept, however, was so well-received that it become the bar for any video advertising program until I left eBay.