Friday, December 21, 2007

eBay gets greedy

The eBay share price has had a terribly time in the last 3 years, plummeting over 50% from its late 2004 high and is still bouncing around at rock bottom. However I have never been tempted to sell my shares having had faith in the strength of the business model and its community.

However one thing makes me want to sell my shares - they have put ads on their auction sites.

Using eBay UK, search for something that gets a lot of results e.g. "ipod". At the top of the results page is a banner ad. Ugly but at least ignorable. What is unforgivable is the three sponsored links at the bottom of the page between the listing and the "next page" links. This is really annoying as it gets in the way of natural navigation.

This is stupid, stupid, stupid. It makes me want to bang the executives' heads together!

I can't believe that eBay are compromising the usability of the site to put in some dumb looking sponsored links that are often advertising direct competitors!

eBay auctions make money by commissions from auctions. Full stop. Everything eBay does should be aimed at making the auction experience better. To put ads on its site displays a lack of focus.

What is even more stupid is that eBay spends millions advertising on search engines to draw users to its site. Now it is putting ads on eBay to take users away from its site.

Don't think that just because you open an ad. in a new browser window means that users haven't left the site. If the user buys his product in the new window then of course he will close the old one.

eBay executives please get it together. You are an auction site, not Google. EVERYTHING you do needs to be about enhancing the auction experience.

Meg please sort this out or leave.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Now we know

A collective sigh of relief was uttered by investors in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) after their trading statement on Thursday. Because of the way banks report results in this country it was four months since the last report. During those long four months the financial markets have been in turmoil, Northern Rock almost went bust and the RBS share price fell as much as 30%.

So how much have RBS been affected by the sub-prime meltdown? Not that much it seems. Yes there will be a £1 billion writedown but apart from that it has pretty much been business as usual. EPS will be well above the market consensus, the dividend will keep growing and RBS has benefitted from all the deposits flowing out of Northen Rock into other banks.

The share price surged on Thursday of course but is it still a buy? With the price under 500p the PE is about 7 so it would appear so. The market is more concerned about the banking sector as a whole at the moment so now is a good time to pick up quality banking stocks and wait for sentiment to improve.

It could be a long wait of course but unless we really are on the verge of a big global recession the selling has been overdone.