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david11982
11-14-2002, 10:38 PM
I'll try to get this screenshot uploaded tomorrow and post the url, but for now I'll just describe what happened. I'm not sure if anyone else has seen this, but I just went to ebay (via manually typing in "www.ebay.com" into my address bar) and I went to a page that claims it is ebay, but it is clearly a hijacked page. In the screenshot that I took you can clearly see that the link my cursor is hovering over (you can't see the cursor in screenshots) is from http://altfarm.mediaplex.com/...

All the links on the page (which are made to look like links to ebay categories) are some form of the altfarm.mediaplex link.

I just deleted my temporary internet files and now I see the regular ebay home page (with the nice winter decor that they added yesterday).

I am not familar with this altfarm.mediaplex advertiser, but if anyone is it would be helpful if you could tell me where to report this behavior to and how I can figure out what the affiliate id is from looking at one of the links.

Also, are there any other places that this should be reported to? I really want to make sure that the people responsible for this get shut down. I wonder how many other people have visited ebay only to find a page full of advertisements made to look like normal ebay text links. It's one thing to change a few links on somebody else's page to text ads (those people are scum), but I can't even think of a word to describe these people that actually change the entire home page.

Jan
11-15-2002, 01:37 AM
I have just been there and taken a screenshot. My mouse was on Toys under $15, and you will see the link at the bottom of the pic. But apart from that red ad, all other links appear to be ebay related. Oh just noticed on the actual page that the three ads to the right of the red were also mediaplex ones. (not shown in pic)

http://www.planethumor.com/stopscum.jpg

Czar
11-15-2002, 08:25 AM
As confusing as the change of face seems to have been, this isn't actually a case of hijacking by a scumware player.

Mediaplex is ValueClick's ad management platform, and it's quite likely that eBay are running some links through the system simply to more effectively mine data concerning the use of their site.

An announcement regarding the appearance change has been posted here:
http://pages.ebay.com/community/news/hptest2info.html
and is reproduced below for your reference:
Why does the eBay home page have a new look?

From November 14 to November 27 we are testing a simplified version of our home page to better understand the needs of our users. This redesign is intended to make it easier for users to quickly navigate and shop on eBay. Only a small portion of visitors to the home page will see this test. The objective is to gauge the effectiveness of making a more simplified version of the home page available to users.
Some of the enhancements we are testing are:

- Bringing more content “above the fold” in order to minimize scrolling
- Removing large graphics for faster downloading pages
- Updating links in the “New User” section to more relevant information

We are continually striving for ways to provide the community with a better eBay experience. The results from this test will be used to better understand the needs of the community. If you have feedback regarding this page, please send us an email at comments@ebay.com*. We appreciate your patience during this short experiment.

Regards,

eBay


*Please note that any submissions will be considered by eBay to be non-confidential and non-proprietary. The communication we receive from our community members is critical and, although we will not be able to personally respond to your message, we appreciate the time it takes to write us.
It will be interesting to see the results of their test, and whether links having the appearance of bring from a third-party decrease the likelihood of (wisely) cautious users navigating through the site.

On somewhat related news, I just received a piece of fraudulent spam from an entity trying to encourage PayPal users to disclose their username and password through a site setup at paypal-ebay.com. With things like this in circulation, you'd expect that eBay would be all the more aware of the trust assigned to their name, and the importance of defending this against dilution.

david11982
11-15-2002, 08:55 AM
Thanks for clearing this up, Czar.

After I fix some things on my computer and get my screenshot uploaded you'll be able to see the differences that the ebay message is talking about. It really is a completely different page design, but with the ebay logos and colors that people are used to. It probably isn't a good idea for ebay to try doing this, because I know I was horrified when I first saw the new look. My first reaction was that it was scumware. I guess it might work better if they actually used their regular linking system (ie- pages.ebay.com/...) instead of the valueclick ad links.

P.S.- I just went to ebay again, and the "test" page was there again. I guess I'm one of the lucky but small portion of visitors:D

Czar
11-15-2002, 09:18 AM
It seems to be selecting users on a session-by-session basis. I actually did get a glimpse of the new mediaplex-enriched layout before posting my first response, but the index page has now reverted to its old design (same day, new session).

I definitely share your concern over the branding of the links. Although most net users are still unlikely to even notice what's happening in the status bar as they surf the web, it would seem that an increasing number have started paying attention to that type of thing - particularly on sites where they're encouraged to disclose personal details and part with their money. A co-branded link (at least mediaplex.ebay.com or vice-versa) would seem beneficial, assuming of course that ValueClick does support co-branding. And for a client the size of eBay - which seems to almost single-handedly be propping up CJ and others via its impressive online marketing budget - one would imagine the task of changing a few DNS entries and config settings would be worth the hassle. ;)

eBay's making a brave gamble to work things this way so close to Christmas...

Click Here!