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Search Engine Competition with Network Externalities

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Author Info

  • Argenton, C.
  • Prüfer, J.

    (Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economics Center)

Abstract

The market for Internet search is not only economically and socially important, it is also highly concentrated. Is this a problem? We study the question whether "competition is only a free click away". We argue that the market for Internet search is characterized by indirect network externalities and construct a simple model of search engine competition, which produces a market share development that fits the empirically observed development since 2003 well. We find that there is a strong tendency towards market tipping and, subsequently, monopolization, with negative consequences on economic welfare. Therefore, we propose to require search engines to share their data on previous searches. We compare the resulting "competitive oligopoly" market structure with the less competitive current situation and show that our proposal would spur innovation, search quality, consumer surplus, and total welfare. We also discuss the practical feasibility of our policy proposal and sketch the legal issues involved.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center in its series Discussion Paper with number 2011-024.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubtil:2011024

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Web page: http://www.tilburguniversity.nl/tilec/

Related research

Keywords: Search engines; network externalities; query logs; antitrust; regulation;

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References

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  1. Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2006. "Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet," Working Papers 06-02, NET Institute, revised Sep 2006.
  2. Gandal, Neil, 2001. "The Dynamics of Competition in the Internet Search Engine Market," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0h17g08v, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2007. "Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second-Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 242-259, March.
  4. Ingo Vogelsang, 2003. "Price Regulation of Access to Telecommunications Networks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 830-862, September.
  5. Song Yao & Carl F. Mela, 2011. "A Dynamic Model of Sponsored Search Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 447-468, 05-06.
  6. Evans David S., 2008. "The Economics of the Online Advertising Industry," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-33, September.
  7. Jinhong Xie & Marvin Sirbu, 1995. "Price Competition and Compatibility in the Presence of Positive Demand Externalities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(5), pages 909-926, May.
  8. Avi Goldfarb & Catherine Tucker, 2011. "Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 389-404, 05-06.
  9. Frederick J. Riggins & Charles H. Kriebel & Tridas Mukhopadhyay, 1994. "The Growth of Interorganizational Systems in the Presence of Network Externalities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(8), pages 984-998, August.
  10. Song Yao & Carl F. Mela, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of Sponsored Search Advertising," Working Papers 08-16, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
  11. Stanley M. Besen & Joseph Farrell, 1994. "Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 117-131, Spring.
  12. Greg Taylor, 2013. "Search Quality and Revenue Cannibalization by Competing Search Engines," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 445-467, 09.
  13. Eric T. G. Wang & Abraham Seidmann, 1995. "Electronic Data Interchange: Competitive Externalities and Strategic Implementation Policies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(3), pages 401-418, March.
  14. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Avi Goldfarb & Catherine Tucker, 2011. "Search Engine Advertising: Channel Substitution When Pricing Ads to Context," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(3), pages 458-470, March.
  16. C. Lanier Benkard, 2000. "Learning and Forgetting: The Dynamics of Aircraft Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  17. Pollock Rufus, 2010. "Is Google the Next Microsoft: Competition, Welfare and Regulation in Online Search," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(4), pages 1-31, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Etro, Federico, 2013. "Advertising and search engines. A model of leadership in search advertising," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 25-38.
  2. Roberto Burguet & Ramon Caminal & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "In Google we trust?," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 935.13, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), revised 12 Feb 2014.
  3. Lianos, I. & Motchenkova, E., 2012. "Market dominance and quality of search results in the search engine market," Discussion Paper 2012-036, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  4. Justus Haucap & Ulrich Heimeshoff, 2014. "Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay: Is the Internet driving competition or market monopolization?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 49-61, February.

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