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Search engine competition with network externalities

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Author Info

  • Argenton, C.

    (Tilburg University)

  • Prüfer, J.

    (Tilburg University)

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 in its series Open Access publications from Tilburg University with number urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-5117898.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Competition Law and Economics (2012) v.8, p.73-105
Handle: RePEc:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-5117898

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Web page: http://www.tilburguniversity.edu/

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2011. "Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F309-F328, November.
  8. Evans David S., 2008. "The Economics of the Online Advertising Industry," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-33, September.
  9. Avi Goldfarb & Catherine Tucker, 2011. "Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 389-404, 05-06.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Song Yao & Carl F. Mela, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of Sponsored Search Advertising," Working Papers 08-16, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
  13. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. 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.
  15. Song Yao & Carl F. Mela, 2011. "A Dynamic Model of Sponsored Search Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 447-468, 05-06.
  16. 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.
  17. Ingo Vogelsang, 2003. "Price Regulation of Access to Telecommunications Networks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 830-862, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Haucap, Justus & Heimeshoff, Ulrich, 2013. "Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay: Is the internet driving competition or market monopolization?," DICE Discussion Papers 83, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  2. Etro, Federico, 2013. "Advertising and search engines. A model of leadership in search advertising," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 25-38.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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