Etsy is against Advertising Campaigns....Thoughts??

How many of you have seen those Ebay commercials? You know, the ones that are super colorful and whimisical and focus on the "fun" of bidding for an's their "shop victoriously" campaign. And I think it's brilliant. Take a moment to watch the commercial below.

Now imagine that same commerical except for Etsy. A room, no a house, no a city full of us, the Etsy sellers, holding our knitted scarves or handmade necklaces or vintage dresses, all vying for the attention of one wonderfully overwhelmed and shop happy buyer. It would really drive the point home that Etsy has thousands of sellers with millions of options-at incredible prices, wouldn't it? Well, I think so. That's why big companies budget for advertising campaigns...because they work.

My frustration is that Etsy has quite publicly stated that they do not believe in ad campaigns and have zero intent of ever launching one. Hmm. Let me grab a quote that I found on SuperNaturale:

"Don't look for them at halftime: Still, some sellers have criticized Etsy's marketing efforts as insufficient. But Stinchcomb [vice president of communications at Etsy] says that the staff is happy with the results they've been getting and the way they've been getting them. Strategic partnerships– like holding a sewing contest in conjunction with Instructables– are one piece of the site's marketing plan. Etsy also sponsors events, such as New York's Renegade Craft Fair, and hosts regional street teams, members who get together to promote their wares and Etsy."We find these grassroots things are better than a $4 million advertising campaign," Stinchcomb says. "One, we don't have that kind of money, and two, I think it would be bad for our brand."It's almost easier for him to say what the Etsy marketing strategy is not: a Super Bowl ad. "I can't see anything more antithecal to what we're about than that," he said.Word-of-mouth is the crux of Etsy's notoriety. Stinchcomb estimates that about 80 percent of Etsy members learned of the site through word-of-mouth, and the site attracts 1,500-2,000 more members daily."A big ad doesn't yield as many results or as fruitful results as being out there and talking to people," Stinchcomb said."

Not to be one to believe everything I read on the internet, I emailed Etsy support directly and inquired as to their progress on a marketing campaign, similar to Ebay's. The response I got from a staffer who I will kindly leave unnamed was "did a big advertising campaign ever make you buy a toaster?" I find that response laughable quite frankly, as anyone with any marketing background knows that advertising does work particularly when there is a large target demographic who is unaware that the product / service exists.

What I mean by that is, did you ever stop to think that for the most part sellers are buying from eachother? I can't tell you how many people I've told about Etsy (women with shopping habits and expendable income) who have NEVER heard of Etsy. I also find it interesting that Etsy is so vocal in their encouragement of sellers spreading word of mouth (advertising for them for free) but is so unwilling to advertise on our behalf even though their pockets are much deeper than ours are.

According to Tech Crunch, Etsy is valued at $90 Million as of 2009. And they just recieved $27 Million from investors to expand. However, founder (no longer CEO) Rob Kalin states that Etsy is "almost break-even" in terms of profits. Although I am not qualified to make this statement, and I understand that "valued" takes into consideration more than operating costs, I find it hard to believe that it costs that kind of money to run Etsy. But, for the sake of argument, lets say it really does cost 117 million dollars to run Etsy. Would you as a seller be open to the idea of an increase in your fees (maybe 5-10 cents) to fund a national or global ad campaign? It is estimated that there are currently 650,000 members. I know that they aren't all sellers so lets say 50% of them are sellers. 350,000 times 10 cents is 35,000 dollars and that is assuming a one time charge of 10 cents, not an ongoing increase. If they added 5 cents to each item sold, we're talking some serious money.

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this important subject. The more time that goes by, the more I start to feel that the Etsy sellers are getting the short end of the stick. Speak up, I'd really like to start a healthy debate on this subject!


  1. I thought they said they WERE doing an Ad campaign this year. I remember it being talked about in a Lab. The plan was to do a huge Radio and Print campaign. I know I saw a full page Ad in Mother Earth News for Etsy.

  2. I know every person who I have told about my shop had never heard of Etsy, not one person! I found out about Etsy myself from another seller (Snealmade).....
    GMA did a wonderful spot on Etsy a couple months ago ( oh, to have been one of their featured shops!)

  3. Little snowflakes: do you have a link to that lab?

  4. So many people I talk to are clueless about Etsy. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "Oh, you mean you sell on E-bay, right?"...

    ...then that would be a nickel I'd happily fund an Etsy ad campaign with.

  5. I completely agree Amy. The other problem is that people who have only heard about Etsy once or twice have the wrong idea about what you can buy on there. It's not uncooked pasta glued to a folded piece of construction paper! I just think a smart ad campaign could get that point across.

  6. We are paying Etsy via fees, and then we need to drive our own traffic to our shops. We all do so much free promotion for Etsy. The shows Etsy Dallas puts on (Jingle Bash & Spring Bash) are must attend shows! I get where they are coming from since people just FF through commercials with DVRs, but I think they should be doing more to advertise for us. Maybe an ad on HGTV?

  7. I completely agree with you! It's a very good thing Twitter came along for Etsy & for us! eBay has more traffic because they advertise! There are TONS of wonderful women who would LOVE to benefit from Etsy who always reply, "What's that?" when they hear of it. Sure, it's not bohemian to advertise... Advertising has been taking a beating overall this past 6 months to a year. It's not a crime to advertise, is it? Thank you for the brilliant post! x0x
    Anita @ModelSupplies

  8. Thanks for sharing - caught my attention and while some people are hearing about etsy, it is mostly creative DIY types - at least what finding when telling others about my store in the real world. I actually didnt know etsy didnt advertise. I found it in a google search when I decided to sell some items I had knit. Also, heard about GMA feature and saw online, I dont watch much live tv (internet or dvd) or read that many magazines due to grad school. Did see etsy mentioned in newest Lucky mag section last week - however, I think advertising fr teh site overal would benefit all - it could attract more sellers, and more buyers, and more $ comes in through fees for listing and selling.

  9. I know I have seen individual etsy shop owners using google ads. Some do it all the time/these are some of the most popular etsy shops. Of course, not all popular shops ren google ads. But a number of them do...I see them in my gmail when an email mentions etsy or handmade etc.. These ad campaigns can be expensive for most.

  10. Me again...I'm not afraid to speak out/have a friendly debate...I agree with you Tara a lot of sellers are buyers too on Etsy. Etsy must believe that they are doing their sellers "a favor" by being on etsy/need not do more. But, there are so many venues to sell handmade goods...sooner or later etsy will feel they will have to do more.
    I'd rather promote ArtFire, Silkfair etc. who give to the seller...there are many ways to promote one's shop...even on a local basis. Not to mention on the web.