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Bridget Davies

VP of Advertising and Marketing Activation

Founded in 1995, eBay is where the world goes to shop, sell and give. Their vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology and open to everyone. Through their investments in small businesses and commitment to innovation, they connect millions of buyers and sellers around the globe, creating economic opportunity for all. Bridget Davies, Vice President of Advertising and Marketing Activation at eBay, is responsible for bringing the brand to life through all of the ways they reach their target customers. This includes a portfolio of cross-channel digital advertising products that empower brands and sellers to market to eBay community members throughout their shopping journey. She believes that in today’s smart world, brands’ success relies upon understanding the shopper journey and reaching them at the critical moments through the right channel along that journey.

Retail has seen significant transformation over the last several decades, spurred by a digital revolution that has created massive opportunities for online retail and the necessity for brands to operate in a cross-channel environment.

“There have been huge shifts in the last couple of decades, including the shift from physical to digital and, more recently, from web devices to mobile devices,” she explains. “I actually think we’re going to look back at these moments as some of the most profound and massive changes in history.”

Not only are innovations like AI, machine learning, IoT, augmented and virtual reality being implemented in eCommerce, but they are also spurring even bigger transformations in how commerce operates today.

Even seemingly small technological advances can have a profound impact on the customer experience. For example, eBay has recently rolled out an image search function so that users can upload images and search for associated products.

“In a world where people are trying to find the right words to search for a product they have in mind, image search is really changing the game,” she says. “By incorporating the capability to search by image, we are creating a profound change in categories that are aesthetically based. It will change the way customers shop.”

Personalization is always something that eBay has thought about, but now, because of the advances in machine learning and the technology behind it, they are able to personalize at much more granular levels and on a larger scale.

“Distributed commerce is something that has always been part of our strategy, but I think the way we distribute commerce will change when you think about things like IoT,” Davies explains. “We have experimented a lot with these technologies and have integrated them with other applications like shop-bots, which allow consumers to search by voice on different devices. This means that consumers are engaging with us not only through different formats, but maybe even in different environments than in the past.”

With these technical advances comes increased consideration around how to run the marketplace differently today than in the past while still producing the same great experience that customers have come to expect.

“Thinking about solutions to build consumer trust is always of paramount importance to us,” she says. “We recognize that consumers value different things when they shop; sometimes they are looking for a really specific item, and other times they may want a specific price or delivery date. We seek out different innovations to deliver on those needs and continue to optimize the experience for our customers.”

The digital environment is even more complex when taking into consideration the fact that consumers use multiple digital channels to engage. According to Davies, rather than always talking about people-based marketing, marketers need to begin thinking about person-based marketing.

“Each person is different, and how they engage is different,” she says. “On top of that, we have new channels of engagement, whether that is through social, video streaming or other digital platforms. By looking at the individual, we learn about their behaviors and preferences, which allows us to personalize our interactions with them in whichever channel they choose.”

Over the last couple of years, eBay has begun investing in structured data. It is a critical strategic priority given that eBay has more than a billion listings for sale, sourced from many different places. The ability to provide personalized product recommendations that are tailored to the individual relies on having really strong platforms and effective usage of the data gathered on those platforms. Then, by properly leveraging those data insights, eBay is able to successfully deliver targeted and relevant messages.

“At the foundation of all of our channels is the understanding that we need platforms that are able to make sense, organize and make actionable all of the signals that we have from our customers,” she says. “We need to have great technology that is able to make sense of that data to map listings to products and to map products to products.”

This product mapping capability—along with eBay’s ability to analyze the searches, preferences and transactions they know about consumers within this universe of products—has become foundational to how they deliver our 1:1 targeting.

“We are a data-driven company,” she says. “We aspire to make the best data-driven decisions at every level, and we measure everything. We live in a world where consumers are connected over a multitude of channels, and we need to understand how all of these channels are interconnected. Things like multi-touch attribution are instrumental to that understanding, but the industry is just at the beginning of that journey, especially since the landscape is so complex and ever-changing. We're living in a pretty epic time, and I feel lucky to be a marketer at this point in history.”

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