eBay Winding Road Takes Wrong Turn

Winding Road featureWhile spoil a great auction experience with… words?

EBay’s automotive-themed digital magazine Winding Road aims to be the place to converse and digest the latest car dope care of a large cast of automotive writers.

Trouble is, the tractionless eZine contains an uninspired mix of 160+ pages of ads and editorial to challenge even the most diehard screen junkies. How many unique twists could/should be published on the new Dodge Challenger?

The companion Winding Road forum has managed a whopping six (yes, that’s 6) postings since its October 2006 debut. Two are from interal eBayers. The latest post dates from February 2008 containing a user rant unrelated to the subject matter.

And there’s the uncermonious departure of founding editor David E. Davis, aka Thus Spake David E. Mr. Davis has seen fit to devote future endeavors to other forms of relaxation and say goodbye to corporate meetings Somewhere West of Laramie. I intrepret this as the sound bite equivalent of “Mr. Grappler is leaving the company to spend more time with his family.” Davis has made numerous positive contributions to automotive journalism and he’s no shrinking violet. We need more Mr. Davis’ in this world.

Winding Road is, shall we say, “challenged.” Its flawed origins are amply evident from the eZine’s¬†manifesto:

The digital edition of Winding Road is free for several reasons. Primary among these is that it just plain costs substantially less to produce a digital magazine than it does a conventional print magazine. Second, as a free publication we can build up a group of loyal and devoted readers faster than we can if we charge for the magazine. This in turn allows us to attract advertisers who are ever so desirous of tempting our loyal and devoted readers with their products.

EBay believes that building a “group of loyal and devoted readers” (read: Free) will open the floodgates for paid advertising, the product’s only apparent revenue stream. To receive Winding Road, simply issue forth evidence of a pulse and email address.

“Loyalty,” in the context of eBay’s mission statement, is difficult if not impossible to achieve¬†without reader commitment, and there’s no commitment without something of value tendered by the reader. What about all those free trade pubs chock-full of high dollar advertising, you might say? Controlled circulations requires extensive application forms containing profile and demographic info critical to advertisers. The very act of completing this form is an acceptable qualifier under those particular professional settings. I don’t believe this applies effectively to the consumer world, particularly with an eZine. And let’s not dismiss readers’ outright disdain for non-contextual advertising occupying precious pixels.

Winding Road’s manifesto correctly suggests lower costs to publish online versus print. But here’s a case where the traditional methods of delivering value to readers and advertisers trumps eBay’s belief you can give something away in the automotive consumer world and paid advertisers will jump on board. If it was that easy, well heck, everybody would be doin’ it.

Winding Road’s content appears suspiciously like regurgitated Quark files from Another Magazine. And something tells me that a newly-minted Gen-Z in biz dev at eBay got the better of the budget process when this looney idea got funded. Remember the short-lived Ebay Magazine? Remember the $150M write off known as the Kruse acquisition? Nuf sed.

My advice to automotive advertisers: Increase your search budget at Google.

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There Are 6 Responses So Far. »

  1. I never paid attention to this thing on eBay until I read your post. There is nothing new and what’s the big deal about that David guy? eBay is where you buy and sell. I sell pretty much sell on my own website and eBay.

  2. Selling on eBay is becoming a royal pain and they’ve changed policies so I sell most of my EFI systems outside of eBay. Winding Road is okay for the casual read and I don’t pay any attention to the ads anyway.

  3. eBay is run by a bunch of latte sucking B-school dweebs.

  4. Hemmings was in eBay’s gunsights then the Ehrich regime opted out. A blessing (for eBay) in disguise and American City paid $30M.

  5. I heard it was $28M but what’s a few mil among friends. eBay offered $20M. Any hard evidence of the actual price paid?

  6. Who needs Winding Road when there is a wealth of FREE quality technical information on the web, starting with my own website http://www.AA1Car.com

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