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Article: Show Your Item's Watch Count?


Reveal or Hide Your Item's Watch Count?

August 2008
As an eBay seller, you're of course seeking to obtain maximum revenue from your sales, utilizing a variety of marketing techniques and listing tools to best leverage the few seconds of time each visitor spends reviewing your listing. Maybe you're considering advertising your item's Watch Count to the world, hoping it'll contribute to greater interest and higher bids. But is this really a wise idea?

A quick step back for those just tuning in... The eBay platform includes a system for users to keep a close eye on items of interest. By clicking "Watch This Item" on any listing page, the user gets the item bookmarked onto their personal Watch List, a reminder email from eBay before bidding ends, and a relisting reminder if that item should reappear in the marketplace. Shoppers end up being a little closer to items they like, sellers keep tabs on their competition, and other onlookers maintain sight of things that generally tickle their fancy. The "Watch Count" is the total number of these accumulated watchers on that item and can run from zero to anywhere in the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands, depending on market promotion, awareness, and demand.

This number is normally private, for sellers' eyes only, but some sellers may want to advertise it — to use it as a marketing device to entice bidding. After all, it acts as a kind of voting system amongst the eBay community. (Unlike a page view counter, the Watch Count only increments when a logged-in eBay user actively clicks a Watch Link.) If the Watch Count happens to climb high enough to impressive double- or triple-digits, why not flaunt it for all to see, either by manually appending comments to your listing, or using our WatchCount.com Widget to do it for you? Well, while it could provide the marketing boost you're seeking, it can also backfire, scaring away potential bidders. One consideration to ponder is the market or niche you sell in.

Do you resell stock purchased wholesale? Do you have many competitors selling identical items? If your target market can easily find your items elsewhere on eBay for a lower price, you may want to pass on advertising your item's Watch Count. Audiences with the mindset of "cheapest is best" are likely to be deterred by your item's high Watch Count because it suggests a large number of hidden shoppers waiting to lunge into the bidding foray in the final hours/minutes of the auction. While their assumption may be incorrect (many of the watchers may just be other sellers keeping an eye on your item), perceived demand can work against you in this kind of scenario.

On the other hand, there may be situations where boasting your listing's Watch Count can increase the perceived value of the item. We're all familiar with the conventional wisdom that the more bidders an item has, the more desirable it appears. Bidding often ramps up at the end of an auction, while Watch Count typically accumulates throughout the listing duration. Can we extend this concept about popular bidding to apply to a steadily increasing Watch Count?

If you're selling unique one-at-a-time items, perhaps you can. Shoppers who have their eyes on your rare antique or hard-to-find collectible may have difficulty finding it elsewhere in the eBay marketplace. If that item is in demand, as determined by your own research or the item's accumulated Watch Count, why not increase its perceived value by flaunting the Watch Count within the listing? You may be able to leverage this aspect of social psychology to entice greater interest and higher bids. Buyers in your specific niche probably aren't shopping around for commodities, but instead are likely to pony up the funds necessary to snag something that's difficult to procure. You may be more likely to benefit from advertising this numerical facet of your item's demand than if your item is easily obtained elsewhere.

Ultimately the decision to display your item's Watch Count will depend on your experience selling to your market, an understanding of the psychology of your customer base, and an overall feel for whether your item's high Watch Count will be favorably received by those passing by your auction listing.




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