by Andy

Sellathon Interview

We talk to Wayne Yeager, CEO of Sellathon, Inc., about the company's ViewTracker advanced auction counter.

Tags: Interviews


You have an impressive history as an Internet entrepreneur, having pioneered the expired domain name industry in 1998 with, and serving as Managing Editor for

What’s the next big thing for the Internet?


Well, I'm definitely a believer in the so-called "Web 2.0" phenomenon: wikis, blogs, RSS, tagging, APIs, etc.

Before I'd ever heard of "web 2.0", I'd noticed the web morphing from its original incarnation - a loose network of stand-alone web pages - to a much more interconnected network of sites and services where more people are contributing, commenting on, and interacting with online products. I think it's a real trend and something that will continue for quite a while.

WR: What turned your attention to services for eBay sellers?

I'm not your typical number cruncher, but I always liked web analytics. I've used it with great effect in my own entrepreneurial life. So after relying on analytics for so long on the web, when I decided to sell some things on eBay, I was appalled that there was nothing remotely analytics-like for eBay sellers.

So I had this epiphany that as more and more people begin to sell on third-party platforms, there would be a need for "third-party analytics" and so we built our first product, ViewTracker, for the largest third-party platform of them all, which, of course, is eBay.

WR: Your ViewTracker product leads the market for sophisticated auction counters. How has it evolved since its launch two years ago?

There's a finite amount of information you can provide eBay sellers, like what search terms they used to find you, which category they were browsing, and so forth, so in terms of additional features, we've only added things that didn't occur to us originally, like how long a visitor spent looking at an item, whether the visitor has been reported as a non-paying bidder, and so forth.

Our main focus lately has been on usability and infrastructure. We want to make our products easy to use, and we want to make sure that we have the architecture to handle the growing number of hits we track, which is several million per day.


eBay now provides Store holders with detailed visitor statistics, via third-party provider Omniture. How does ViewTracker compare with that service?


It's very complementary since there's not a lot of overlap. Omniture's program provides a good high-level overview of store activity, while ViewTracker provides more granularity for those who want to dig deeper.

Most of our users own eBay stores, by the way, so I assume they're making good use of both tools.

WR: Becoming the default counter provider for Overstock Auctions was a great achievement. What is your take on “alternative” auction sites?

Yes, we've been very pleased with the Overstock integration.

As far as "alternative" auction sites, there seems to be two camps: hardcore business people and what I'd call "evangelists". Evangelists tend to be motivated by emotional issues: loyalty or animosity, friendship or hatred, bitterness or hope... things that aren't necessarily business-related.

Business people, on the other hand, tend to be platform-independent which means there's just one relevant question: how much am I paying for my customers? You've got to compare apples to apples and the only way to do that is to convert all the commission fees, all the revenue and all the work down to a single, common unit, which is: how much does my average customer cost me? When that's your yardstick, then it doesn't matter who's providing the customer.

So I think there's lots of room for alternative e-commerce platforms, as long as they can figure out a way to drive customers your way in a cost-effective manner.

WR: Your auction title optimization tool SellerPower is less well known. What is it exactly, and how did it come about?

SellerPower is a tool for sellers that taps into our gigabytes of keyword search data.

Most sellers have no idea how eBay users actually search for things, so we created a tool where sellers can enter word fragments and we'll show you all the most popular searches - in order - containing that term, and how many searches were conducted for it.

Sellers are usually very surprised when they use it. Who knew, for example, that 1/3 of people looking for "Spongebob" items actually search for "Sponge Bob" as two words? If you don't have that in your title as two words, you'd be invisible to a third of all searchers. We haven't promoted SellerPower very heavily, and it's mostly a word-of-mouth thing.

WR: What’s next for Sellathon?

Right now, we're putting the finishing touches on "Reader Meter", a sort of ViewTracker for blogs. Again, most blogs are hosted on third-party platforms, so until now there's really been no way for a blogger to know how readers are using a blog.

We hope to launch that by the first of the year.

WR: Thank you for your time, and best of luck for the future.
WY: Thank you.

Discuss this interview here

Article Added: 15 November 2005
Last Updated: 15 November 2005

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