Auction item categories add complexity, reduce viewing

How do you categorize items in your auctions? Item categorization is an important, though often overlooked and undervalued, part of a marketing strategy. With Internet bidding providers and auction calendars allowing auctioneers to place items in customized categories – and allowing users to navigate directly to those categories – it’s crucial to consider how to maximize the valuable traffic to each item by using categories correctly.

Remember why we have categories
First, let’s think about the reason behind categorization. The theory is that not every user is interested in every asset type. This concept is fairly true, and there is value in allowing users to filter out the uninteresting categories by drilling directly down to categories that interest them. However, the rule is that the more categories you specify for an event, the fewer users will see the items in the event.

Don’t over-categorize
For the same reason it’s a good idea to send your emails out to everyone on your list rather than filtering based on interest, it’s important to try to get all the visitors to your inventory to view every item. It’s impossible to predict when last auction’s coin buyer will be next auction’s real estate buyer. By keeping categories to as low a number as possible – and making sure to always default to an all items view – the number of viewers for each item can be maximized.

Make categories parallel
Categories need to be easy to use and understand. If your event has vehicles, be sure that you don’t have both a cars and automobiles category. Most software allows for items to exist in only one category, and having a general category and a specific sub-category with similar items in each splits your viewers between each. There’s no reason to have categories for tractors and tillage and forage equipment if your farm auction only has one or two of each kind of asset in each category. Breaking up inventory into such small groups only serves to make it harder for users and reduces the viewership for each item.

Tailor categories to the event
A speciality auction and a consignment auction should have very different sets of categories. A consignment auction with firearms has no business with categories for pistols and rifles when a firearms category would ensure that anyone interested in weapons would see all relative items. However, a firearms-only event should indeed have categories for differing kinds of guns.

Categories are bad
In summary, categories are dangerous. If there were no categories, each viewer would browse all items. The more categories in an event, the more broken-up the prospective bidder pool becomes. While it’s intuitive to think that more specificity in categories allows bidders to find items that are more relevant to them, the consequence of this approach is that the benefit of cross-promotion from different asset types is lost.

This entry was posted in websites, theory and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES | |

Aaron Traffas, CAI, AMM, CES, is an auctioneer from Sharon, Kansas. For the last 22 years he's worked for Purple Wave. Aaron served as president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association in 2017 and on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees from 2009 through 2013. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote the original ATS and AMM designation courses from NAA. An active contract bid caller, he has advanced to the finals in multiple state auctioneer contests. During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band's latest music can be found at as well as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.