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The Race for Sponsored Links: Bidding Patterns for Search Advertising

Author

Listed:
  • Zsolt Katona

    () (Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720)

  • Miklos Sarvary

    () (INSEAD, Fontainebleau, 77305 France)

Abstract

Paid placements on search engines reached sales of nearly $11 billion in the United States last year and represent the most rapidly growing form of online advertising today. In its classic form, a search engine sets up an auction for each search word in which competing websites bid for their sponsored links to be displayed next to the search results. We model this advertising market, focusing on two of its key characteristics: (1) the interaction between the list of search results and the list of sponsored links on the search page and (2) the inherent differences in attractiveness between sites. We find that both of these special aspects of search advertising have a significant effect on sites' bidding behavior and the equilibrium prices of sponsored links. Often, sites that are not among the most popular ones obtain the sponsored links, especially if the marginal return of sites on clicks is quickly decreasing and if consumers do not trust sponsored links. In three extensions, we also explore (1) heterogeneous valuations across bidding sites, (2) the endogenous choice of the number of sponsored links that the search engine sells, and (3) a dynamic model where websites' bidding behavior is a function of their previous positions on the sponsored list. Our results shed light on the seemingly random order of sites on search engines' list of sponsored links and their variation over time. They also provide normative insights for both buyers and sellers of search advertising.

Suggested Citation

  • Zsolt Katona & Miklos Sarvary, 2010. "The Race for Sponsored Links: Bidding Patterns for Search Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(2), pages 199-215, 03-04.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:199-215
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1090.0517
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:compec:v:50:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10614-016-9637-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yi Zhu & Kenneth C. Wilbur, 2011. "Hybrid Advertising Auctions," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(2), pages 249-273, 03-04.
    3. Kinshuk Jerath & Liye Ma & Young-Hoon Park & Kannan Srinivasan, 2011. "A "Position Paradox" in Sponsored Search Auctions," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(4), pages 612-627, July.
    4. Navdeep Sahni, 2015. "Effect of temporal spacing between advertising exposures: Evidence from online field experiments," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 203-247, 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. Alex Kim & Subramanian Balachander & Karthik Kannan, 2012. "On the optimal number of advertising slots in a generalized second-price auction," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 851-868, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Avi Goldfarb, 2014. "What is Different About Online Advertising?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 44(2), pages 115-129, March.
    9. Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang & Juan Feng, 2011. "Cyclical Bid Adjustments in Search-Engine Advertising," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(9), pages 1703-1719, February.
    10. Kaifu Zhang & Zsolt Katona, 2012. "Contextual Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(6), pages 980-994, November.
    11. Michael Arnold & Éric Darmon & Thierry Pénard, 2012. "To Sponsor or Not to Sponsor: Sponsored Search Auctions with Organic Links," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201207, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    12. Berman, Ron & Katona, Zsolt, 2010. "The Role of Search Engine Optimization in Search Rankings," MPRA Paper 20129, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Przemyslaw Jeziorski & Ilya Segal, 2015. "What Makes Them Click: Empirical Analysis of Consumer Demand for Search Advertising," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 24-53, August.
    14. Sha Yang & Anindya Ghose, 2010. "Analyzing the Relationship Between Organic and Sponsored Search Advertising: Positive, Negative, or Zero Interdependence?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 602-623, 07-08.
    15. Yu (Jeffrey) Hu & Jiwoong Shin & Zhulei Tang, 2016. "Incentive Problems in Performance-Based Online Advertising Pricing: Cost per Click vs. Cost per Action," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(7), pages 2022-2038, July.
    16. Tat Y. Chan & Chunhua Wu & Ying Xie, 2011. "Measuring the Lifetime Value of Customers Acquired from Google Search Advertising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(5), pages 837-850, September.
    17. Selçuk, B. & Özlük, Ö., 2013. "Optimal keyword bidding in search-based advertising with target exposure levels," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(1), pages 163-172.

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