eBay is best known for its auctions, but more than half of the listings on eBay are generally new products. In 2011, eBay introduced its “Buy It New. Buy It Now” call to action in ads to position the site as the go-to destination for new products. For the holiday season, eBay wanted to ratchet that message up a notch, promoting its site as a key destination to shop for gifts.
To capture the pleasure of giving the perfect gift, Tenthwave devised a way for Facebook fans to give their best Facebook friends a gift. Sifting through people’s friends’ profiles, eBay was able to make suggestions about what someone might like as a holiday gift.
A sweepstakes, “The More, The Merrier,” was developed where players could send virtual gifts to friends through Facebook for a chance to win the real thing. eBay’s custom Facebook app found people’s top 10 Facebook friends and matched them with gifts based on their Facebook profiles. Friends who opened a digital gift given to them were entered to win the actual item. The sending friend also was entered to win every time a friend opened a virtual gift. Weekly drawings drove repeat traffic. Players could also enter via their mobile device.
eBay used the prize pool to showcase 50 high-end items, ranging from electronics to fashion. Two custom-built algorithms, Top Facebook Friends and Friend Gift Matching, automated the gifting process. Plus, game play demonstrated that shopping on eBay took less than five clicks. Facebook’s Social Footprint tool tracked in real time which friends opened their gifts.
Facebook ads were targeted based on profile information. Ads also ran on eBay’s home page as well as across the Web, email blasts and PR. Altogether, there were 300,000 Facebook interactions; 29,000 shoppers played in The More, The Merrier sweepstakes and 138,000 virtual gifts were sent. Facebook friends also exchanged 138,000 highly targeted, endorsed brand messages about eBay. eBay also received 530,000 new Facebook fans.