advertising, auction, auctioneer, auctioneers, auctions, fiduciary duty, marketing, online auction platform, white-label
This is being proposed by largely white-label platform users — that their non-marketplace platforms outperform marketplace platforms. From talking to 100’s of auctioneers all over the United States, and sitting in litigation regarding this proposal, this holding is suspect.
A marketplace platform with millions of buyers and accompanying auctioneer supplemental marketing certainly outperforms white-label platforms with accompanying auctioneer supplemental marketing.
Could a white-label platform with accompanying auctioneer supplemental marketing outperform a marketplace platform without? Possibly. Could a marketplace platform with accompanying auctioneer supplemental marketing outperform a white-label platform without? No question.
As we alluded to, there are many auctioneers using “easy to use and cheap” platforms with no meaningful accompanying auctioneer supplemental marketing and having disastrous results. Have we seen marketplace platforms with no meaningful accompanying auctioneer marketing end similarly? Not very often if ever.
Of course, these conclusions depend upon the auctioneer’s reputation, the desirability of the property being sold, the quality of pictures and descriptions, and the particular platform being utilized. While any auctioneer could find an example of “this is better than that” there are many other variables and examples.
I’m not opposed to auctioneers developing their own marketplaces, nor opposed to franchise models or auctioneers creating alliances to work together, but for a newer auctioneer, with no experience finding bidders, using a white-label product [alone] is foolhardy … even though it’s easy and cheap.
Notably, we have experienced auctioneers telling me it’s less expensive to use the marketplace than market their auctions themselves otherwise as effectively. We’ve personally seen similar data offered by other auctioneers as well. By the way, this doesn’t make any auctioneer any less so.
We wrote about this issue regarding Jessica and her use of an online auction marketplace platform. In that treatise, we noted:
For that matter, does Jessica have to do anything? Maybe not … as she might be a stellar order-taker-salesperson finding sellers, and helping them leverage the immense power of this current online marketplace. Will all sellers then start to just do it themselves? Will sellers bypass Jessica and list their property on these online marketplaces themselves? Does the typical seller have the expertise to identify, photograph, display, upload, monitor, market, and close out their own auctions? Does the typical seller want (or have time) to do all that?https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/auctioneers-is-it-too-late-does-it-matter/
In essence, every auctioneer is prudent to market their auction on the Internet — and if it’s an online auction of course on some auction platform. We online (or simulcast) auctioneers are almost all using some other service — to advertise and accept bids whether that’s a big-name platform or some other platform masquerading as your own.
The typical white label is really not your platform, but a platform portraying itself as yours by hiding the name of the true owner. Some apparently believe they are better auctioneers by concealing the platform’s true identity versus auctioneers that use major marketplace platforms with the name prominently displayed.
All that’s fine, but there’s nothing wrong with marketplace auctioneers, and there’s nothing wrong with white-label auctioneers (as long as you’re good at marketing.) Yet, one has millions of bidders and one doesn’t. All this white-label talk makes me wonder if it’s more so about you as an auctioneer at the possible expense of your seller?
There are of course a few auctioneers with the necessary resources to create and maintain their own platforms — and that’s fine too. So, I wonder if they will be portrayed as software companies masquerading as auctioneers? Possibly not, but what if they allow others to use their platforms?
In summary, do white-label platforms outperform marketplaces? By virtually any measure, it doesn’t appear so. For those new in the business, don’t be fooled that if you hide the platform’s identity, that’s somehow better for your seller and be very suspicious of “easy to use and cheap.”
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.
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