I admit I was one of the first auctioneers to denounce large online platforms — as I held they were a threat to us auctioneers. You can [still] read several writings on this platform concerning this issue.
However, here, years later, we have to resign ourselves that these large marketplace online platforms provide most all auctioneers a good solution to finding bidders and serving their clients. Yet, I keep hearing auctioneers tell other auctioneers they must have their own platform and “their own bidders.” While that might sound better for the typical auctioneer, it’s not.
When I started in the auction business, the auctioneer I worked for — and every other auctioneer in Central Ohio — put their ad in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch newspaper. That way bidders knew exactly where to look for that next week’s auctions. We made it easy for bidders to find us.
With the Internet, auction calendars appeared as well as online bidding platforms. In fact, the first Internet auction calendar was invented because Steve Johnson was looking at numerous newspapers to find auctions, and wanted one spot to find them all. He as a bidder wanted finding auctions to be easier.
Here we are in 2022 and auctioneers are telling me and others that the best solution is to have each auctioneer’s auctions on their website because then the auctioneer “owns” the data, but we’re making it more difficult for bidders to find our auctions.
Let’s just say every auctioneer (50,000?) has their own platform and unique data. Yes, you own the data, but do you expect every bidder to check 50,000 different websites for what they’re looking to buy? Especially for a newer auctioneer with little market presence, is this the best solution?
We wrote in 2021 about it being too late, and if it really mattered: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/auctioneers-is-it-too-late-does-it-matter/. We think it’s too late for almost all auctioneers and it really doesn’t matter. Use an online marketplace platform to make it easier for bidders to find you and have auctions.
There are indeed major players around the country with their own platforms, and that’s reasonable. For the rest of us, it really doesn’t make sense to “own our data” at the expense of our bidders — and as such our sellers.
Auctioneers are agents for their sellers, and as such, they must be loyal to their sellers by finding the most bidders (and the right bidders) and maximizing their seller’s position. While real property is more of a local issue, personal property deserves a worldwide marketplace.
Finally, nobody today is “your bidder” and no bidder has been “your bidder” ever, other than when he, she, or they are contracted to bid to you. Bidders bid with many different auctioneers, and claiming they belong to you otherwise is nonsense.
As I started this treatise, it’s a different time in the auction business and especially if you’re new to online auctions, don’t blindly accept the benefits of your own platform and your own data, at the expense of serving your client.
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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.