Steve Yankovich, vice president of innovation and new ventures at eBay Inc., is focused on creating opportunities beyond the company’s core products, including branded entertainment. He leads a newly formed team focused on technologies and experiences that will drive innovative approaches to connecting retailers with consumers around the world.
Michael Beller is vice president of brand marketing at Source Interlink Media, a multi-platform content-creation and distribution media company. Beller integrates traditional and emerging platforms to create growth for the company’s 80 brands across all platforms, including Motor Trend and Hot Rod
Beller recently interviewed Yankovich to find out more about eBay Motors’ foray into original multi-platform video programming with the “The World’s Fastest Car Show” as well as the company’s mobile strategy, which is centered around the eBay Motors smartphone app.
Michael Beller: Steve, can you share where you are heading with eBay Motors’ mobile strategy? The mobile app already has traction. Where do you go from here?
Steve Yankovich: eBay is typically used for people “mission shopping”—meaning that somebody already knows what he wants when he uses our mobile app or website. The opportunity for us is to go after the other kind of shopping—inspirational, impulse and discovery—which then converts into a purchase. The way to go after that is with a vertical experience, often including content around the product category. That is why our eBay Motors mobile app is different from our eBay or eBay Fashion apps. The eBay Motors app is built around the idea of pivoting auto enthusiasts into browsing for, say, a supercharger, which then pivots into a sale.
MB: Why get into original content programming with “The World’s Fastest Car Show”?
SY: We started “The World’s Fastest Car Show” a year or so ago as an example of content to engage users in this strategy of inspiration and discovery. One of the features of mobile is frequency of engagement, so the idea is to have our content dynamically changing all the time. For instance, “The World’s Fastest Car Show” releases episodes regularly in order to bring customers to eBay for repeat visits.
MB: Would you expand a bit on how “frequency of content” impacts eBay Motors’ bottom line? How are you making money from this?”
SY: The big opportunity here is that we have things going on to make the app change much more frequently when people are stuck and have time to kill, including something we call “social casting.” For example, people might be at Le Mans, and we would aggregate instagram and tweets that are hash-tagged with Le Mans and play them out in one place—our eBay Motors app. Now you are consuming cool, crowd-sourced content in real time. These features increase engagement. As a result, they drive incremental purchase conversions for us.
MB: Many companies are touting real-time customer profiling to provide relevant content and products to end-users. In my view, however, much of it has been clunky; not seamless by any stretch. How can you really know what I like and bring it to me with ease and without clutter?
SY: The first priority is to provide a really interesting place to consume automotive content. We’re also coming up with more ways to “know” your car. Customers can put their cars into our “eBay Motors Garage” either via a picker or by scanning in their VIN codes. Then they can go into a parts-category area such as tires, where we will show them only tires that fit their specific vehicles rather than having them filter over and over again.
For another example, imagine that Justin Bell is going through a car outfitted with an Eaton supercharger on “The World’s Fastest Car Show.” We put those tags in the video, and you can “shop this episode” at the end. Even though the car in the show may be different from yours, we can show you Eaton superchargers that fit your model because we know your car from the “eBay Motors Garage.” So we can customize the post-show sales experience.
There is also a feature in the app where you can set yourself up with your desired car, such as a ‘65 Mustang. Every time you launch the eBay Motors app after that, a dynamic slideshow will come up with that exact car for sale right then on eBay Motors.
MB: Thanks for the time, Steve. Is there another insight you would like to share with our readers with before we end?
SY: We get a lot of traction on mobile at eBay Motors. We are at 11,000 cars and almost 700,000 parts sold a week on mobile. I am a car guy. I have more cars than I have people in my family, so I know that you are not at a computer when you are immersed in car culture. You are at a race or a show talking about customization and interesting parts. That is where your inspiration and discovery come from, and we have the vehicle—the eBay Motor’s mobile app—where you can act on it right there on the spot. That is what people are doing, and that is ours to own.