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Public versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results from a Pokémon Field Experiment

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  • Katkar Rama

    ()
    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)

  • Reiley David H

    ()
    (University of Arizona)

Abstract

Sellers in eBay auctions have the opportunity to choose both a public minimum bid amount and a secret reserve price. We ask, empirically, whether the seller is made better or worse off by setting a secret reserve above a low minimum bid, versus the option of making the reserve public by using it as the minimum bid level. In a field experiment, we auction 50 matched pairs of Pokémon cards on eBay, half with secret reserves and half with equivalently high public minimum bids. We find that secret reserve prices make us worse off as sellers, by reducing the probability of the auction resulting in a sale, deterring serious bidders from entering the auction and lowering the expected transaction price of the auction. We also present evidence that some sellers choose to use secret reserve prices for reasons other than increasing their expected auction prices.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 5 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
Pages: 1-25

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.6:y:2007:i:2:n:7

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  1. Vincent Daniel R., 1995. "Bidding Off the Wall: Why Reserve Prices May Be Kept Secret," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 575-584, April.
  2. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  3. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & John A. List & David H. Reiley, 2006. "Demand Reduction In Multi-Unit Auctions With Varying Numbers Of Bidders: Theory And Evidence From A Field Experiment ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 203-231, 02.
  4. Hendricks, Kenneth & Porter, Robert H & Wilson, Charles A, 1994. "Auctions for Oil and Gas Leases with an Informed Bidder and a Random Reservation Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1415-44, November.
  5. David Lucking-Reiley, 1999. "Using field experiments to test equivalence between auction formats: Magic on the internet," Framed Field Experiments 00183, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Doug Bryan & David Lucking-Reiley & Naghi Prasad & Daniel Reeves, 2000. "Pennies from eBay: the Determinants of Price in Online Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1736, Econometric Society.
  7. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  8. Lucking-Reiley, David, 2000. "Auctions on the Internet: What's Being Auctioned, and How?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 227-52, September.
  9. Robert F. Easley & Rafael Tenorio, 1999. "Bidding Strategies in Internet Yankee Auctions," Microeconomics 9907001, EconWPA.
  10. Daniel Houser & John Wooders, 2006. "Reputation in Auctions: Theory, and Evidence from eBay," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 353-369, 06.
  11. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2000. "Last Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Experiment on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 7729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2000. "Winner's Curse, Reserve Prices and Endogenous Entry: Empirical Insights from eBay Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1927, Econometric Society.
  13. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
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Cited by:
  1. Brown, Jennifer & Morgan, John, 2006. "How much is a Dollar Worth? Tipping versus Equilibrium Coexistence on Competing Online Auction Sites," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt3c21w91h, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Quitzau, Jörn, 2004. "Handeln Wirtschaftssubjekte rational? Empirische Evidenz aus Internet-Auktionen," Research Notes 12, Deutsche Bank Research.
  3. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2003. "Economic Insights from Internet Auctions: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 10076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2002. "Cyberspace Auctions and Pricing Issues: A Review of Empirical Findings," Working Papers 02005, Stanford University, Department of Economics.

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