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The Truth About Etsy Offsite Ads | Are They Worth It?

Love them or hate them, Etsy offsite ads may actually be a benefit to selling on the Etsy marketplace. And while it’s true that ad fees might come with a bit of a sticker shock, they could be more worth it than you think. So, here’s the truth about the infamous Etsy offsite ads in all its glory.

When selling on a global marketplace like Etsy, you’re given access to millions of customers all over the world. Customers who probably don’t know anything about you or your brand, but they know and trust Etsy. And since your products are on Etsy — what the heck, they’re willing to give your shop a chance.

Well, one of the ways Etsy encourages global customers to visit your little Etsy shop is through — drumroll please, Etsy offsite ads. Not only does Etsy use this form of advertising to bring more attention to individual Etsy sellers, but they also do this to bring more brand recognition to their website in general.

But Etsy’s advertising strategy has come under fire, with many sellers saying that Etsy’s offsite ads fee has sucked up any profit from a sale. 

So what’s the deal? Are Etsy’s offsite ads worth it?

Let’s take a look. 

What are Etsy Offsite Ads?

Laptop sitting on kitchen table while displaying Google search engine results.

Etsy offsite ads are a simple concept. Basically, when someone searches the internet with a term relevant to the products you sell in your Etsy shop, Etsy pays for advertising on your behalf to advertise your product within search results.

In other words, if some random person somewhere Googles ‘handmade sunhat’ and you in fact sell handmade sunhats in your shop, there’s a chance that your listing could show up somewhere within search results for that person.

In a nutshell, this means that the person searching for a sunhat is more likely to see your product, click on it and buy it.

But it doesn’t stop there. Etsy uses its offsite ads program to place listing advertisements on social media, on popular blogging websites, and in other forms of internet media that align with Etsy’s target demographic.

Again, the main point of Etsy’s offsite ads program is twofold:

  1. Get your Etsy listings in front of interested shoppers.
  2. Increase Etsy’s overall brand recognition as an online shopping destination for handmade, vintage, and unique products.

How Offsite Ads Work

Before anybody clicks on an offsite ad, Etsy fronts the bill to pay for your advertisement to be displayed. In other words, Etsy pays to get your product seen by global shoppers. And you only pay Etsy when you make a sale due to a click on an advertisement for your listing.

Woman sitting on her bed surrounded by packaged listings sold through Etsy offsite ads.

With Etsy offsite ads, Etsy pays to have your listing advertised on:

  • Google Display Network
  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Bing
  • Buzzfeed
  • Martha Stewart
  • Real Simple
  • MyWedding
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Lyst
  • Shape
  • And over 2 million other sites, like, AOL, Zillow, etc. 

If anyone visiting these sites sees an Etsy ad for your product, clicks on the advertisement then buys directly from your shop within 30 days of the click, you pay a maximum of 15% of the final sale price to Etsy.

The final price you pay for Etsy’s offsite ads is a little confusing and depends on a variety of factors. To find out your exact payment scenario, make sure you check Etsy’s Fees & Payment Policy.

How can I opt-out of Etsy offsite ads?

Etsy warning message: Are you sure you want to stop promoting your products through Etsy offsite ads?

Etsy automatically enrolls you in its offsite ads program. Yes, this is a little alarming to know that you might have to pay a 15% fee to Etsy, especially if your prices aren’t calculated for this kind of unforeseen cost.

This is why many sellers decide to opt-out of Etsy’s offsite ads. 

The only way to opt-out of Etsy’s offsite ads is if you made less than $10,000 USD on Etsy in the past 365 days.

If you meet this criteria, you can do the following to opt-out:

  • Go to your Shop Manager.
  • Click Settings.
  • Then click Offsite Ads.
  • Finally, click “Stop promoting my products.”
  • Confirm you want Etsy to Stop promoting my products.
  • Confirm Stop promoting my products.
Etsy warning message: You're about to stop promoting your products through Etsy offsite ads.

Once you follow the steps listed above, Etsy will stop promoting your products in their offsite ads program. If you ever want to restart offsite ads for your products, simply come back to this page and click Restart Offsite Ads.

Rember, if your Etsy shop made more than $10,000 USD in the past 365 days, you’re required to stay enrolled in Etsy’s offsite ads program. Whether you like it or not, unfortunately.

Offsite ad attribution

In your Shop Manager, you have a detailed breakdown of where the traffic to your store comes from. 

Some traffic may come from offsite ads, but it’s essential to know how Etsy decides that traffic is from an offsite ad. 

Two people pointing at Etsy offsite ad displayed on their smartphone.

If a buyer clicks on any offsite ad and lands on your listing page, that’s obviously traffic from an offsite ad. But if that person then buys from your Etsy shop (that specific product or any other product of yours) within 30 days, the attribution still goes to the offsite ads. And you will be charged the commission fee. 

However, if that shopper lands on your product through an offsite ad click, but buys another seller’s product, you do not pay the fee. 

It’s also important to know that every subsequent purchase from that specific customer within the 30-day window of their ad click is attributed to offsite ads, and the commission fee is charged on each sale. 

Etsy offsite ads fee breakdown

The exact fee percentage you’re charged depends on the revenue you’ve made in the last 365 days. 

  • If you’ve made less than $10,000 USD in the last 365 days, you’re charged 15% of each order attributed to offsite ads. 
  • If you’ve made more than $10,000 USD in the last 365 days, you’re charged 12% and offsite ads are mandatory.

Other important notes:

  • The offsite ads fee is capped at $100 USD per order. 
  • Ad fees are calculated and paid monthly. 
  • Fees are charged on the total order amount.

Great – but are they worth it?

Vintage, rustic ad signs on the side of a wooden barn.

It’s important to remember that Etsy’s offsite ads program isn’t something that Etsy seemingly launched overnight. 

Etsy has been paying for ads in various locations all over the internet since it first started. It’s done this to spread the Etsy name and cement its position as a marketplace to buy unique items by artisans. 

But now that Etsy is arguably the behemoth of the artisan world, it’s still using your products to push its brand name – at your expense. 

Several Marmalead users who sell digital downloads for single digits say that offsite ads chewed up most of their profit. So it’s safe to say that an example of where offsite ads works are if your cheapest product is around the $35-$40 mark. 

Some of our customers have shared their frustration that offsite ads are implemented from the start – meaning, you have to opt-out rather than opt-in. This can be startling for a newer Etsy seller to find out they have to pay more fees to Etsy than they originally planned when setting their prices.

Some sellers have gone so far as to say that offsite ads being mandatory for those making more than $10K in a year is “absolutely horrendous.” 

It’s easy to see why Etsy makes offsite ads for those earning more than $10K mandatory – they’re the big fish. These sellers bring in a lot of traffic, and if they suddenly opt-out of ads, Etsy would in fact lose a lot of traffic. 

Only you can decide whether offsite ads work for you. If they don’t work, turn them off if you can. If they do work, re-adjust your pricing strategy accordingly. 

The bottom line

Group of women reviewing business graphs and documentation.

Whether on-site or offsite, Etsy ads aren’t the savior of your business. 

No amount of paid advertising will result in a sale if your listing isn’t optimized correctly. Our advice is to keep it simple. Turn off offsite ads, optimize your listing, do thorough keyword research, focus on Etsy SEO, and improve your product photos, descriptions, and shipping services.

Squeeze as much as you can out of what you control, and then see how your store performs organically.

Once you know your listing is looking the best it can, then it’s time to start experimenting with Etsy’s offsite ads.

What do you think of Etsy’s offsite ads? Let us know in the comments below.

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19 replies on “The Truth About Etsy Offsite Ads | Are They Worth It?”

“The Truth About Etsy Offsite Ads | Are They Worth It?” Yes, for ETSY! If they were such a great deal for sellers, they wouldn’t have to force anyone to use them. If I could opt out, I would in a heart beat.

Etsy’s offsite ads are just part of doing business. Think about if you owned a franchise of a major fast food supplier. They have required marketing spends they must make per month. I think the bottom line is you gotta spend money to make money. And Etsy offsite ads takes a lot of the work out of the process, spreads the reach further than you can do on your own and then some. We’re paying Etsy to make us global. It’s worth it in our opinion. =)

THE WORST PART IS THEY CHARGE THE PERCENTAGE ON TAX AND SHIPPING TOO!!!!! My stuff is highly desirable vintage collectible, it sells itself, not worth it for me. I was doing my customers a service by giving them great prices, but now I’m going to raise my prices and start moving to Ebay. Etsy comes out to 10.5% without marketing fees, Ebay is 13.5 % bottom line, they market you globally for free. The Etsy marketing fees just pay for Etsy executive salaries. No thank you.

I sell on Etsy, everything is handmade – I cannot increase production as I don’t “buy and sell”. This isn’t Amazon, it’s Etsy. So I’ve just had to increase my prices by 12%. I have my own webstore, I don’t rely on Etsy for anything and I do my own advertising. This is Corporate sponsored theft, and if they were giving sellers such “a great deal” as this article implies, then their 12% wouldn’t be mandatory. It’s mandatory because it’s a rip off.

Hi, John Smith — thanks for reading and sharing your experiences! We wouldn’t go so far as to say that off-site ads are a “great deal,” but they’re definitely a double-edged sword. More often than not, sellers would agree that off-site ads are more harmful than helpful. While they potentially help get your products in front of more buyers, the fees from off-site ads can dig too deep into already razor-thin margins that most Etsy sellers are running in their shops. And the hardest part is not knowing whether you’re going to get pinged for an off-site ads fee until it’s too late. As you mentioned, increasing your prices across the board is one way to overcome the additional fees of off-site ads, so long as it doesn’t detract from your sales that aren’t attributed to these ads. We’d recommend digging through your listings to see which ones Etsy promotes more frequently through off-site ads and play with pricing for those listings first.

I agree. They shouldn’t be mandatory. Bottom line. Let people have their benefits, if they believe in them so much. For the rest of us? Allow us to opt out and sell our goods at a competitive price. We are not Amazon.

Hah, what a boondoggle, Etsy punishes successful sellers. Yes, I know all the lather about raising my prices – what Etsy doesn’t consider are supply sellers – I *can’t* raise my prices above MSRP.
And what happens when a shop has a good year, going over that $10K mark and then I can’t get the product anymore? Revenue drops from $10K down to a grand. But I’m still forcibly committed to offsite ads.

So now I contemplate not selling on Etsy at all. Lose/lose.

I turned off etsy off line ads as they were charging the additional 15% on my most inexpensive items ($11.25). There is supposed to be a way to choose which items you want included. Supposedly there is a pick and choose option under the marketing, etsy ads tab. Not so.

Hi! I have the offsite ads on and ETSY keeps promoting one specific item that is actually selling, but not so much. As a result, the conversion rate of my shop has dropped down from around 3%, to below 2. Does this lower conversion rate damages my shop?

Lower conversion rates aren’t necessarily a good thing, so you should definitely take a look at that listing to see if you can figure out why it’s not converting. Do the listing photos match the item description? Can you take better photos that display the product better? Are you targeting the wrong keywords that don’t exactly match what you’re selling? Are you priced competitively? If you can get to the bottom of why shoppers aren’t pulling the trigger on your listing, then you should be able to slowly improve your conversion rate over time. Here’s an article where we discuss this further:

At the end of the day, Etsy doesn’t want to spend any more than they have to on offsite ads that aren’t converting. If shoppers continue to bounce out from your listing, then there’s a good chance Etsy will begin to promote it less in offsite ads.

I was just on the phone with Etsy customer service. I asked them why I was being charged the 15% off site ad fee, for international shipping amount that a customer paid for, and was added to the total of the purchase. I never bought that shipping, but I’m being charged 15% on it. Plus I pay another 6.5% for a shipping processing fee.

Thank you! I’m redoing my listing : photos, titles, tags, everything! How long does it takes for ETSY / Google to update the changes?

Be careful making changes to everything all at once! It’s tough to measure what’s working when you do it that way. Plan for at least 2-weeks until you start seeing any noticeable changes in regards to your SEO. Good luck! 👍

My response to the mandatory offsite ads was a 20% price increase across the board, took all my listings off automatic renew and started to move listings to Rubylane and Instagram. When my last listing expires I’m done with Etsy. Problem solved.

As a newbie Etsy seller, this has all been great information for me! Thank you to everyone for your comments and suggestions. I just had my very first sale on my Etsy shop and saw the extra discount taken out. A 15% fee was a shock! Then I started doing research and found this blog page. as like many, I had no idea…and this took a huge chunk of profit out of my first sale. Because it took so long to get my first sale, I was already debating on dropping my pricing across the board but now I’m not too sure. I’ve tried so hard to get my marketing out everywhere and this sounds like a neat service for me, but not if it cost me 15% versus doing my own legwork. I guess I’ll let it play out a little bit longer and then make my decision. Thank you again to everyone for your shared info.

Late to this thread, but I turned off offsite ads because on my traffic stats, it says that 0 hits came from offsite ads. Yet I have been charged for offsite ads this month. So I’m just not trusting it, and I feel like it’s not clear on where to see what off-site ads are working.

What I don’t understand is: if Etsy charges 15% for off-site ads (and only on those items sold by off-site ad clicks), why don’t people include the 15% in their pricing? If 15 cents on the dollar makes you unprofitable, then maybe you’re in the wrong business. Maybe Etsy is the wrong platform.
From my understanding, Etsy is meant to be for original art (at least that was the intention)—and for original art there is no real competition on price. The problem, it seems, is that many sellers are using Etsy to sell stuff they have bought, not made, as if they are a retail shop. Maybe these are the ones being burned by the 15%. that being said, it is unfortunate when sales go above $10k one year and below the next and there is no opt out—that is a problem.

I sell original art on Etsy, and had to put my prices up by 15%, otherwise I’d be making below minimum hourly wage. Sales dropped by a large fraction.
I also do my own advertising, no one else makes what I do and a simple Google search will bring up my work immediately for those who know what they’re looking for, but many potential customers simply can’t afford it. I’m being charged 15% for nothing, and at least in my case Etsy is making less off me since I don’t sell nearly as much. Etsy originally billed itself as “5% fees, come build your shop here” a long while back, but in addition to all their new fees they also charge fees on shipping, and so for my customers overseas in the US and Canada mainly, it’s not a good look when I have to increase the shipping fees beyond the actual shipping cost.
It’s the Etsy management who are in the wrong business, they think they’re e-Bay or Amazon the way they run things trying to maximise profits for themselves and their shareholders, and screw over the sellers.
Not everything that is home made is “original art” – and sometimes there can be a lot of competition.

Thanks for your candid response, Dan. I’m now beginning to see the bigger picture, especially after running numbers comparing profits with and without the 15%. It took a significant increase in selling price to get my profit higher than my fees—this is wrong! I’d be inclined to turn off external ads for this reason. It’s sad how these big corporations take advantage of regular people.

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