Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Grant McCracken, eBay's MeCommerce, and Me

So no sooner do I post my first-ever shill for Threadless than C3 advisor Grant McCracken posts to his own blog with his thoughts on eBay's new MeCommerce initiative. Naturally, I feel inclined to comment.

I don't really have a problem with what eBay's trying to do – in fact, a lot of would-be prospectors have come close to this particular goldmine. When you link up the notions of micropayments, product reviews, and personal collection management, you come pretty dang close to an extremely rich vein. Amazon's been providing kickbacks through their recommendation system for years; when I was regularly producing issues of Inkblots I dutifully linked each and every book, film and CD we reviewed to the Amazon page, but we never generated enough sales to cover our overhead, much less pay our contributors. I imagine that a very large reason for this failure was exactly what eBay is trying to overcome – resistance to leave the site you're currently reading.

This is a problem banner ads have had since the Web's early days; while they're great for building exposure to a brand, the idea of tracking their value on click-throughs alone is as ridiculous as saying that any Pizza Hut TV ad that didn't make a viewer drop what they were doing to order a pizza while the commercial was still running was a failure. I like to think that lots of people picked up a copy of the stuff we critiqued, but since very few people bought their copies from Amazon through our links, I have no quantifiable numbers. I'll never know how many went on to pick up copies at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy... As a content producer, I didn't mind that – I wanted our content to be compelling enough to keep people clicking through our site. As the guy paying the hosting bill, I wanted those people to get their butts over to Amazon as quickly (and as often!) as possible. If eBay can figure out a way to "make impulse purchases without leaving the blog", I'm all ears.

Personally, I suspect this system will need the following to succeed:

- a running tally of how much you're purchasing through this blogger (like a cart)
- a running tally of how much of your purchase goes to this blogger (like a tip jar)
- Flickr-esque integration with blogging tool APIs for dead-simple "post this" links

A lot of businesses are, as I said, getting close to this goldmine – Threadless does a decent job, for instance, but they still need good, solid API integration in order for it to really take off. Both the content producer and the bill-payer sides of me are hoping that MeCommerce hits the motherload.

Update. I just swung by the McCommerce site, and I gotta say, their implementation is definitely on the right tack. I think it still has a way to go – it doesn't seem to integrate the three things on my wishlist yet, and I wish there was some cookie-based persistence across pages within the site – but it's definite progress.

Update update. Well, hot dog – I've just been pinged by the MeCommerce people to beta-test their new project and they say my three wishes have been granted. I'll let you know how this goes!


Thanks for your observations. I would like personally invite you to our beta. All 3 of your suggestions are available now. The Flickr-esque feature is in the works and should be done very soon.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.


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