The trial of allowing sellers on eBay to list any item without an insertion fee has apparently gone so well that the policy has gone into permanent effect. But as well as ultimately meaning you'll pay more money, items listed with the 'no insertion fee' policy may also now feature advertisements.
eBay explained the shift in policy on its announcement board:
As announced in September 2011, eBay has been trialling free insertion fees on single quantity items in any listing format for casual sellers, up to 30 listings per month. Following positive feedback, eBay is delighted to make this trial permanent, effective immediately. To enable eBay to continue to offer free insertion fees on up to 30 listings per month to casual sellers, eBay will begin running advertisements on a certain number of View Item Pages. The advertisements will only run on the listings of those sellers who do not pay an insertion fee on their listings and will be effective as of 23 January 2012.
While not coughing up anything up-front means you aren't paying fees for something that doesn't sell, it's perhaps disingenuous for eBay to say that it needs advertising to fund the switch. As we explained when the policy was first announced, if you list an item with no insertion fee, you ultimately give eBay more money since the final value fees are much higher. If there's a need for advertising income as well, that suggests a fair proprtion of no-insertion-fee items aren't selling at all.