eBay Commercials Coming to Let You Know “It’s Not Your Mother’s eBay Anymore”

EBay is kicking off a TV campaign in the next couple of months that is expected to help bring back consumers who may not have purchased anything on the site since the retailer was focused exclusively on auctioning off used goods.

The commercials, which will start running in the third and fourth quarters in the U.S. and Europe, will be designed to raise awareness around the brand, which has been a little overshadowed recently by PayPal, which has been considered to have larger growth prospects.

In an interview, eBay’s CEO John Donahoe told me that for the past few years, the company has been focused on improving the user experience, and when they saw a pick-up in spending from its current user base, it would begin to increase marketing.

It’s hit that inflection point, he said. “It’s not your mother’s eBay anymore.”

While Donahoe promised that won’t be the company’s new tagline, he said the campaign will help people’s understanding of eBay. “Seventy percent of our products are fixed price and 70 percent of our products are new items. A lot of people haven’t used it in five years, and still think that its an auction site focused on used items. We’ll use this to tell them what eBay is like,” he added.

The commercials also will be used to promote its mobile business, which is expected to hit $4 billion in revenues by the end of the year.

The San Jose-based company made the announcement in conjunction with its second-quarter financial results released today.

During the quarter, it surpassed its own expectations for the period and revised its revenue projections for the year, which now surpass most Wall Street expectations. In the first quarter, revenues totaled $2.76 billion, growing 25 percent over the same period a year earlier when revenues totaled $2.2 billion.

However, any potential lift in profits was offset by acquisition costs.

The company reported a second-quarter profit of $283 million, decreasing 31 percent over the year-ago period when it made $412 million.

The company has been on a shopping spree of its own, buying six companies in six months.

Most recently, it purchased Zong, a carrier-billing provider, for $240 million in cash. Its largest acquisition in that period was of GSI Commerce, which provides services to merchants and brands, and cost more than $3 billion. GSI Commerce will make up its third business unit after eBay and PayPal.

eBays stock price traded down 59 cents to close at $33.17 a share, before the release was sent out after normal trading hours.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work