So I just glanced over The Gold Queen's post over at her blog and it's basically a great list of ways to remain "unseen" when posting your auctions. There's some great benefits in remaining "unknown." I bet a lot of us have competitors on our friends lists and track them to easily keep them undercut and such things.
But being known isn't necessarily a bad thing. I use an AH alt but I make no secret of who it is; I've listed Liquidate's name many times here and if anyone on my server asks who my main is I will tell them. This can definitely have some drawbacks, but I don't really mind all that much. You see, there are benefits to being known as well.
It's the closest you can get to "branding" in WoW.
Before the Apple cult was formed one of Apple's biggest marketing ventures was that they would offer discounts to schools. I believe they still do this. This is why almost all schools have Macs in their computer labs instead of PCs. The concept behind this was that if kids grew up and learned to use computers while using a Mac that child would then go on to buy a Mac when they had grown up and were shopping for a PC. It was familiar to them and they had the name Mac in their brain associated with computers. (Granted, our Macs broke down about 90% of the time so it just made me not ever want my own!)
You can copy this a bit by having a character known for selling a certain item. It doesn't have to be your main, as long as it's a constant character selling the same item. If I know that Cardmaster sells Mysterious Fortune Cards at 10g a piece and all that's up on the AH are for 12g a piece I will probably wait for Cardmaster to log on and ask if I can buy his stuff directly.
This has happened to me a lot with rare items, craftables, etc. People have seen Liquidate posting +4 Stats to Chest scrolls and if they all sell out they will come to me because they know I can do the enchant. (I, of course, charge them the same profit I'd make off a scroll on the AH!) I've had people whisper me requesting glyphs, fortune cards, and crafted PvP pieces before. Had that item been constantly posted on different throwaway toons I would never have received that business.
By posting on the same character you will, in some players' minds, cause them to associate you with that item and this can pay off in your favor.
I've been making bank on the cut gem market the past few days, I intend to make a post about this in the near future. But from this comes a story. I've been controlling the Inferno Ruby prices since the patch hit and have been able to keep the prices stable and high.
I offer cuts free to my guild members but often they're not patient enough to wait for me to cut it, which is cool. I was on Vent with a guild member last night who warned me that I'd been undercut by a ridiculous amount. While I went off on a huge spiel about how that person was stupid since demand was so high they were just harming their own profits while not hurting mine at all apparently my guild member purchased a gem. Did he buy the undercutters? Nope, he bought mine. He paid more for the exact same item because it was mine and he wanted to benefit me and not some random undercutter.
If your AH posting alt is not associated with your main this may not crop up much, but if you have a reputation on your server, either as your bank alt or as your main, you can capitalize on that in the AH if you post on known characters.
So which is better? Transparency or Anonymity?
Both of them have their pros and cons. You will probably see more of a benefit of anonymity, especially in markets like glyphs and cut gems. But one glance at The Gold Queen's list in the post I posted above and all I can say is . . . that's a lot of work. Even with addons that auto mail or a shared guild bank that's a lot of toon swapping, character slots taken up, white lists and black lists . . . just a lot of work! I think this is a beneficial practice if you go through all the motions.
I just wanted to post this and say to those who, like me, aren't going to go through all these motions to remain secretive: There's benefits for us lazy people too!