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We have been watching auctioneers put property online in light of the Coronaviris (COVID-19) pandemic. There are indeed many online platforms to choose from …

So what’s the “best” online auction platform? What criteria are used to choose the “right” platform? We would think traditional cost/benefit analysis would apply here, wouldn’t it?

I remember in the 1980’s advertising in newspapers. The Columbus Dispatch was expensive and somewhat difficult to work with — while other neighborhood newspapers were less expensive and easier to work with.

So, that was an academic decision as I certainly prefer less expensive and a more pleasant experience — or was it? Actually, the Columbus Dispatch had a Sunday circulation 100-times that of the suburban newspapers and it drove 95% of the auction bidders/buyers in the 1980’s.

As you choose an online platform to augment or replace your live auction, what criteria are you using? Are you choosing the platform that’s easy to use, the people are nice, or the one that will produce the best result for the least cost?

One major differentiator between platforms is: Do they maintain a marketplace? In our prior example, the Columbus Dispatch had a marketplace much larger than (and possibly in contrast to) other advertising methods; thus they deserved our business.

Of course, we could have placed advertising in the neighborhood newspapers instead — but would have had to then market otherwise to reach the other 99 of 100 bidders whom didn’t see that “easier” and “more pleasant” display advertisement.

Let’s go back to the 1980s again … and if the Columbus Dispatch advertisement was $500 and the suburban advertisement was $75, could we have made up the lack of marketing in the neighborhood papers for $425? At that time, we clearly could not.

It would seem to us that when you as an auctioneer are choosing an online platform, one material question would be, “How many eyes look at your platform every minute — every hour — every day?” A free site that garners 100 visitors every day or a $500 site that gets 1,000,000 views every day; some decisions auctioneers have to make remain this stark.

Relatedly — if you believe you have a sufficient number of bidders already in your database, let me ask you if you have the ability to attract people who aren’t in your system already? Do all your prior bidders provide sufficient buying power for all that upcoming property?

And lastly, it may be a good idea to verify (to the extent you can) any views/hits/visits numbers proclaimed by any online auction platform, as this may be the main differentiator between these choices.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.