Okay since I should be doing something else, let's talk about ETSY OFFSITE ADS.


Probably unpopular opinion: I don't actually hate them. I don't chime into it when people ask for advice because nuance is always lost in those discussions. But Twitter is great for nuance!
Background: I have a main shop (the one I point people to because I get significantly more money and Branding Points when people shop from there) and an Etsy shop. The Etsy shop is there because, like it or not, the Big Corporation brings in a lot of traffic and sales.
The way Etsy offsite ads work is that through some kind of Algorithm they promote Etsy listings that they think will do well as like an ad on Google and... put them in an ad on Google.

If someone clicks on the ad and buys the thing, Etsy takes an extra cut of the sale price.
It's actually more complicated than that, but Twitter doesn't have room for nuance.

Anyway, to be more specific:

If a customer clicks on an ad and buys ANYTHING from the shop the ad leads to within 30 days, Etsy takes an extra cut on the sale as an advertising fee.
The important things there are "from the shop the ad leads to" and "within 30 days".

THE main complaint I've heard from people (esp whenever an Etsy ads thing goes viral on Twitter) is that people think that everything you buy on Etsy once you click an ad will have a fee.
Like the page on Etsy offsite ads literally says it's not true.
I mean, yes, probably not a good idea to trust a Corporation, but my experiences leads me to believe that they're not lying.

Anyway the other thing: it's not just the item featured. If someone buys ANYTHING from that shop, a fee is added. That's not really problematic in my exp.
So anyway, my experience!

I'm one of the shops that's made enough that offsite ads are mandatory (more on this later).

In 2020 I got 688 ad clickthroughs, which resulted in 39 orders. That's $984 in sales for a cost of $135 in fees (13.7% on average).
That sounds like a lot, and I in fact turned the ads off (back before I got pass the threshold of madatoriness) because I saw the hype on how Etsy ads are terrible. But after talking to an Etsy person who likes the ads on Discord I turned them back on.
Looking at the numbers again, here's the breakdown:

The conversion rate (sales/clickthrus) is 5.5%. That's TWICE the average US ad conversion rate for retail in 2020.

There were 688 clickthrus for $135. The average cost per click on Google Ads is... $1 to $2?
If I did Google ads myself there's NO WAY I could get these numbers / sales for $135. Or even $315. That's because I have absolutely no experience in SEO and ad placements while Corporation has teams of people whose entire lives are dedicated to optimization and profit.
With the whole pay only when you make a sale thing, these ads means that Corporation takes on the RISKS of advertising, at cost that makes them money.

That's REALLY GOOD for a small business with neither money nor time to invest in this.
Leaving the numbers aside (and this is what the person on Discord said that convinced me to turn the ads back on) if I didn't turn the ads on I wouldn't have had those sales so hey free money.

Okay so that's the good stuff how about the things I don't like about it?
So, first, it's on by default and you CANNOT OPT OUT of it if your shop has an annual revenue of $10,000 or more.

I hate this.

Like I really hate this.

Not because I would opt out personally, but just that you can't. This sucks.
A lot of the panic surrounding the ads come from the misconception that ANY ad click means ANY purchase on Etsy will incur a fee. That's wrong.

The other major panic source is that a 15% fee would mean that people would lose money.
Okay so, my margins can absorb a 15% loss on a sale price. Most healthy retail margins should be able to do that. Do I like losing 15% of my sale? No. Do I dislike it enough to lose a sale? No.

But with something like Etsy there ARE many sellers who can't absorb a 15% fee.
Example: labor intensive things that people (sometimes including the seller) don't value highly cough cough hand embroidery cough cough.

Another Example: younger/newer sellers who aren't pricing like a business and taking all the math into account.
Also there are people who just don't want to pass cost increases on to customers who whatever reason. That's legit too! (I am one of those people in that I price my pronoun pins without an Etsy markup, since there are many teens who find them there.)
Having a surprise fee or not being able to opt out for people in those situations? Not good.

Like there's a part of me going if you're grossing 10k a year you really should have a good enough margin to take the hit.

But that's a choice people can make. Etsy doesn't offer that.
Switching gears for the moment: another panic point is people thinking oh no I'll lose 12 to 15 percent on EVERY SALE.

Look I don't know what others' numbers are like because nobody shares them on the groups I'm on but in 2020 like less than 10% of my revenue came from ads.
This means the ad fees were less than 1% of my gross.

And it's not like the ads were ineffective or nobody saw them. There was a time when an ad for one of my items would appear at/near the top if you googled for a certain animated series without adblock.
Also literally EVERYONE who clicked on the ad (similar to 98% of people finding an item of mine on Etsy search) bought the ONE THING and then left.

Sometimes it's like why are you spending $32 and paying $4 for shipping instead of adding $3 of stuff and getting free shipping?
So it's not like I was paying commissions on sales other than the items advertised.

I kinda wish I would which means people would be buying more stuff but like, that's why people do I guess.
Okay back to things about offsite ads I dislike.

They calculate the fee based on gross. That's sale price plus shipping. This sucks on international purchases. But doesn't suck enough that I would say I hate it.

Also the analytics are kinda eh.
I would like to know what the ads that brought people to me looked it, and where they're from (Google? Bing? Facebook?) and what they were looking for.

But of course why would they give anyone the data that powers their optimizations???? So we can do our own ads?

tl;dr: Etsy offsite ads aren't as terrible and evil as people claim, and I (and others!) benefit from them, but it has issues, most importantly the default on and not being able to opt out after enough sales

Okay back to making cute birbs.

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