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Spelling Errors = Good Buys on eBay

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:31 pm    Post subject: Spelling Errors = Good Buys on eBay Reply with quote

TypoHound generates common misspelled variants of the keyword. This allows you to find the elusive 'toshia' listing. Since no one else can find the auction with eBay search to bid on it, you bag yourself a bargain!

I used it for the word "postcard" and it found 87 misspellings and produced 301 items on ebay.
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good spelling skills finally pay off, or rather, poor spelling costs.

I've come across this a couple of times before. If I recall correctly,
there are a group of students working with a professor Steiglitz
of Princeton, who've tried a number of experiments to improve
our understanding of auction behavior. (Incidentally, prof Steiglitz
wrote a book on this subject. My estimation, based on snippets, and
reviews is that it is not as insightful as one would anticipate...)

The principle behind typohound is sound, I believe, but, depending
on the circumstances, the effect of typos can be quite small.
The word "postcard" is also the name of a major category on
ebay. At any given time, there are 100,000 items within this
category, far more than any but the most enthusiastic buyers
would be able to glance at. Narrowing a search is essentially
a necessity for buyers in this area.

However, only a very naive buyer would use "postcard" as a
search term, since it is a category term. and most buyers
would look within one or two sub-categories to find what they
wanted. Each sub-category might contain 1000 listings, which
is much more realistic for someone to scan through.

Sellers who have thought through these issues might include
the word "postcard" in their listing titles more as a way of
improving the readability of their listings, rather than as a
search term. Hence, abbreviations often come into play, as in
"PCs", or "postcrd". Space in the titles is quite scarce, and
there is a premium on including legitimate search terms in
them. Extra space can be used to make the title more readable,
or, to make the title precise enough so that the more particular
buyers don't need to read the details to determine that the
product is not the one they want. Balancing these 3 functions
of a listing title can be very tricky.

I came across an interesting situation related to the "typos" issue
the other day. a competitor was selling modern postcards of Hollywood,
only it was in the category of postcards of cats. They weren't
getting many bids, as you can imagine. I sent them a note,
and their reply, once it got past the name-calling ("Mr. smarty
pants", "Mr. know-it-all") was very grateful. I guess it was my
good deed for that day. It raises the question, though, of whether
there is a good term for a "category typo". Catto? Miscat?
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