Google vs. eBay: Round 6?

    June 18, 2007

Here’s the blow-by-blow so far:

2006: eBay owns PayPal. Google starts Google Checkout (June 2006). eBay bans Google Checkout (July 2006).

June 6, 2007: eBay announces they’re going after the online auction for radio ad space, too.

June 11, 2007: Google Checkout says they’re organizing a “Freedom Party” at eBay Live! in Boston. They claim to be celebrating freedom at the site of the Boston Tea Party with lots of free stuff. It was supposed to be on Flag Day, after all. Nobody falls for it: we all know you’re tacitly protesting eBay’s Checkout ban.

June 12, 2007: eBay pulls its PPC ads in the US. All of them. It’s “an experiment” to see how they’ll do without PPC. Nobody falls for it: we all know you’re putting the squeeze on Google. People who are so tired of seeing PPC ads for “used underwear” and “dead fish” from eBay rejoice.

June 13, 2007: Google crumbles like a cookie over the approximate 2% of their revenue that eBay’s ads represent.. They say, “After speaking with officials at eBay, we at Google agreed that it was better for us not to feature this event during the eBay Live conference.” Nobody buys that either. Fear spreads–will eBay bring the ads back?

June 14, 2007: eBay says its traffic has increased. I attribute this to recent headlines. Oh, and um, the fact that they’re already one of the top most trafficked sites in the world. Hitwise says eBay’s traffic from Google has dropped 7%.

June 18, 2007: Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Meanwhile, at several points on this time line, eBay and Google sign agreements to prove that they’re friends. Should they stop pretending already or can we all just get along? They are still partners outside the US.

And of course, we have to wonder why it took so long for the Google Checkout/eBay PayPal competition to come to a head, and whether eBay will keep its ads offline for good.