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Is active content really that dangerous?

Well there, isn’t that a surprise?

eBay have just announced that starting 2017 they will be limiting the use of active content on sellers’ listings. However, it is not quite clear yet if these limitations will be enforced so there maybe a panic over nothing. Now, what is active content, you’re wondering?

An example of static (not active) content can be seen below, this HTML is sent to eBay at the time of listing or revising and does not dynamically change.

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Active content is interactive and dynamic content used on websites, or in this case, on your eBay designs (for example a dynamic category menu). Developers use active content to visually enhance web pages or provide additional functionality beyond what the static HTML code can offer. We use active content to dynamically show the new categories added without the need to revise your products, if eBay do limit active content, then we would change the system so you would need to revise your items in bulk to see the new categories, your listing will remain to look the same.

eBay are saying that the use of active content in listings, including JavaScript and Flash, can inhibit purchases on mobile devices and can lead to abuse in the marketplace. What we know, however, is that basically all our new shop and listing designs are mobile friendly and actually make life easier for buyers while navigating through different listings instead of hindering their buying experience, as eBay claim.

 The “abuse in the marketplace” they are talking about is most probably related to the security issues that buyers and sellers might be exposed to while using eBay. However, in October 2014, eBay’s Lynda Talgo said, “After a recent review of our processes and policies, we believe the benefits of allowing active content to our customers outweigh the extremely low likelihood of being exposed to them.” It’s interesting to see how they have radically changed their stance on that in less than two years so that is why we are not changing anything yet as it may never be enforced.

eBay have stated that, “From spring 2017, we’ll limit the use of active content in all new listings across all devices and it will not appear by default. Later in 2017, we plan to remove or block listings with active content. We encourage you to limit your use of active content now.” so we just need to wait to see if this is really enforced and then we will change the designs to be static thereafter.

An example of dynamic content can be seen below in our ‘Related Products’, the items shown here are live items on eBay, if they are sold they are removed, if they were static then the listings would need to be revised to be refreshed and updated with the new content.

 

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Our designs are currently using active content such as JavaScript for certain buttons and filters, drop-down menus, tabbed panes, advanced search fields, scrolling galleries or cross-selling widgets. However, we don’t know which of these will have limited functionality, even eBay themselves are sure what they’re going to limit at this stage. They said, “We will provide more information later this year about which functionality will be limited and provide the specific timing in early 2017. We also are working closely with our third party partners in cases where they use active content on your item descriptions.”

So our advice is not to panic!
We are certified by eBay and we offer a unique commitment to our customers for peace of mind, any designs built after October 2016 will be updated free of charge once we receive a clear understanding on the limitations, the worse case is we would need to revise to eBay on a regular basis to keep the listings ‘refreshed’ which could be automated via our listing tool Ad-Lister, your buyers wouldn’t see any difference to what we currently provide.

 

Posted by Cristian, Just Applications Ltd.

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