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Paying for Prominence

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  • Mark Armstrong
  • Jidong Zhou

Abstract

We investigate three ways in which firms can become "prominent" and thereby influence the order in which consumers consider options. First, firms can affect an intermediary's sales efforts by means of commission payments. When firms pay commission to a salesman, the salesman promotes the product with the highest commission, and steers ignorant consumers towards the more expensive product. Second, sellers can advertise prices on a price comparison website, so that consumers investigate the suitability of products in order of increasing price. In such a market, equilibrium prices are lower when search costs are higher since a firm's benefit from being investigated first increases with search costs. Finally, consumers might first consider their existing supplier when they purchase a new product, which suggests a relatively benign rationale for the prevalence of cross-selling in markets such as retail banking.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 121 (2011)
Issue (Month): 556 (November)
Pages: F368-F395

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:556:p:f368-f395

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References

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  1. Jay Pil Choi & Byung-Cheol Kim, 2010. "Net neutrality and investment incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(3), pages 446-471.
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  4. Haan, Marco A. & Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose L., 2009. "Advertising for attention in a consumer search model," IESE Research Papers D/794, IESE Business School.
  5. Wilson, Chris M., 2010. "Ordered search and equilibrium obfuscation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 496-506, September.
  6. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
  7. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2009. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 427-452, 03.
  8. Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2005. "Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords," NBER Working Papers 11765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jidong Zhou, 2009. "Ordered Search in Differentiated Markets," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2009_28, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  10. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
  11. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
  12. Michael R. Baye & J. Rupert J. Gatti & Paul Kattuman & John Morgan, 2009. "Clicks, Discontinuities, and Firm Demand Online," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 935-975, December.
  13. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2008. "Prominence and Consumer Search," Economics Series Working Papers 379, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  14. Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2006. "Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet," Working Papers 06-02, NET Institute, revised Sep 2006.
  15. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  16. Maria Arbatskaya, 2007. "Ordered search," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 119-126, 03.
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  18. Wolinsky, Asher, 1986. "True Monopolistic Competition as a Result of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 493-511, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Wonsuk Chung & Rick Harbaugh, 2012. "Biased Recommendations," Working Papers 2012-02, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  2. E. Glen Weyl & Michal Fabinger, 2013. "Pass-Through as an Economic Tool: Principles of Incidence under Imperfect Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(3), pages 528 - 583.
  3. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2012. "Strategic obfuscation and consumer protection policy in financial markets: Theory and experimental evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 76, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  4. Hunold, Matthias & Muthers, Johannes, 2012. "Resale price maintenance and manufacturer competition for retail services," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-028, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. José L. Moraga-González & Vaiva Petrikaitė, 2013. "Search costs, demand-side economies, and the incentives to merge under Bertrand competition," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 44(3), pages 391-424, 09.
  6. Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur & Zhou, Jidong, 2013. "Search and Categorization," MPRA Paper 53166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. repec:dgr:uvatin:2012017 is not listed on IDEAS

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