eBay Launches Rewards Program

Online auction giant eBay announced on Tuesday the launch of a rewards program designed to allow corporate partners to tap into the rabidly loyal eBay community.

The eBay Anything Points program was launched with a quartet of partners: Sprint, Hilton HHonors, McAfee Security, and Points.com. The partners will give their loyalty program members the chance to use their frequent-flier miles or other rewards points to buy eBay merchandise.

Partners like Sprint and McAfee will use special offers designed to tap into the loyalty of eBay’s 69 million registered users, while Hilton and Points.com will allow their members to exchange their points for Anything Points. The program is free to eBay members, with the reward points deposited into their PayPal accounts for use on eBay auction items. Each point is worth one cent.

“Our community is pretty loyal and engaged with out platform,” said Don Albert, eBay’s senior director of corporate partnerships. “It’s really an innovative way for marketers to tap into the eBay community and brand.”

In the first promotion under the program, eBay members can earn points by signing up for Sprint consumer or small-business services. An eBay member who signs up for Sprint business services, for example, is rewarded with 5,000 Anything Points — $50 of eBay merchandise. McAfee plans to run a promotion of its own next month, offering its customers Anything Points for buying enhanced firewall or anti-virus products.

The partner offers will be promoted in banner ads on the eBay site, as well as on the Anything Points homepage.

Hilton’s HHonors program will allow its members to convert its hotel and airline miles into Anything Points. Likewise, Anything Points can be converted into HHonors points. Members of Points.com’s network of 35 loyalty programs, pointsxchange, will also have the ability to convert their points to Anything Points.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay said it hoped to sign up more corporate partners to the program, extending its brand to marketers and giving it a new source of members. With the failure of many online currency schemes in the dot-com boom, Albert said eBay could create its own currency, thanks to its millions of items for sale and its October 2002 purchase of the PayPal online payment system.

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