Global eBay Review Pits Incumbents WPP Against Publicis

Brand spent approximately $250 million last year

MediaCom first won the business in 2014.
Getty Images

American ecommerce company eBay has launched a review of its global media planning and buying responsibilities in an attempt to streamline that business, a spokesperson confirmed today.

Its goal is to choose a single agency to handle this work around the world.

“With eBay’s new markets organization, regional teams are working together more closely than ever,” a representative said. “Consolidating our roster of agency partners will allow us to streamline our marketing approach around the world, helping eBay clearly communicate our value proposition for consumers. We have strong partnerships with our current agency partners, and we’re evolving these relationships to serve the brand globally.”

Ebay has worked with WPP’s MediaCom and Publicis Media’s Blue 449 since 2014 and 2016, respectively. The former agency had been global AOR after winning a competitive review but later lost the largest region to Blue 449, which was then called Optimedia, in an unreported U.S. review while continuing to handle portions of Europe and Australia. Digitas, another Publicis agency, won digital agency of record duties in 2012 but no longer counts eBay as a client.

It is not clear whether the company hired an outside consultancy to manage the review process.

Spokespeople for Blue 449 and MediaCom declined to comment, but sources with knowledge of the matter indicated that both agencies would be defending their business in the review. The eBay spokesperson also confirmed the company’s plans to consolidate the work and stated that eBay does not plan to issue an RFP to any nonincumbents, meaning the competition will be limited to WPP and Publicis.

The review comes amid a global restructuring of eBay’s marketing organization.

The “new markets” group eBay’s spokesperson mentioned came together in February as regional teams around the world united under Jay Lee, svp and general manager of markets, with the goal of streamed operations, increased collaboration and “faster decision making and execution.” The company also reportedly laid off an unspecified portion of its global workforce and announced a search for a new head of the Americas reporting to Lee.

The company has been moving to redefine itself as growth slows in an ecommerce world increasingly dominated by Amazon. Stock prices recovered after hitting a low point in December, and investors continue to challenge CEO Devin Wenig to differentiate eBay from its chief competitor. Ebay’s most recent initiative involved partnering with Facebook on a new cryptocurrency initiative called Libra.

Ebay has not publicly announced significant changes to the creative side of its marketing business, though Adweek recently reported it was in talks with McCann and that agency’s production division, Craft, about potential opportunities in the U.S. (The two have worked together in EMEA for more than one year, while 72andSunny served as lead creative agency on the brand elsewhere the world.)

French consultancy Comvergence has eBay spending approximately $250 million on paid media in 2018. The vast majority of that total was in the U.S. According to the latest numbers from Kantar, the company dropped $214 million in the U.S. in 2018 and more than $67 million during the first quarter of this year. Both totals mark a significant jump from 2017, when the paid budget ran to $149 million.

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