I was shocked to see first that Trade Me had appointed an advertising agency, and secondly at their TV campaign. I really can’t bear to watch it so I’ll not embed it.
Trade Me has always won by being more end-user centric and easy to use than any alternative, and it has become beloved by New Zealand. The issue is that they have run out of customers, and can only grow by increasing activity for existing customers, increasing prices for sellers or entering new categories and businesses.
Increasing customer activation through advertising may be an interesting experiment to run, but let’s not forget that Trade Me’s superior profitability versus eBay is not only through better usability, but also because they do not throw money away into advertising.
Meanwhile we all have our individual understanding of what Trade Me stands for. Like a poor movie following an excellent book, my understanding of what Trade Me is not at all reflected in that advertisement. I suspect many of the other members, staff and ex-staff feel similarly.
The advertisement makes me feel discombobulated, a little disconnected from what Trade Me stands for. The question is whether Trade Me is losing long term customer love at the expense of short term activation with this annoying ad.
The kicker, and catalyst for this post, is that it’s compounded by an event that I have not seen for years. Trade Me is currently down.
Update: Trade Me is back online and all auctions will be extended by 5 hours.