IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Misinformative advertising


  • Ruiz-Aliseda, Francisco

    () (IESE Business School)


This paper analyzes how advertising can be used to mislead rivals in an oligopoly environment with demand uncertainty. In particular, we examine a two-period game in which two firms each sell a differentiated product whose attractiveness vis-à-vis the competitor's product is unknown. In each period, a firm sets prices for its product and exerts an advertising effort that is imperfectly observed by the rival later on. Advertising is persuasive in that it enhances willingness to pay, but it can also be used to manipulate rivals' beliefs about initially unobservable differences in consumers' quality perceptions. In equilibrium, each firm uses advertising to persuade consumers and to interfere with the rival's learning about this unknown dimension of demand. This can be done because the effect of imperfectly observed advertising cannot be separated out of the effect of the unknown quality differential, which creates a signal extraction problem for the competitor. There always exists acontinuum of (symmetric) equilibria, but refining the equilibrium set selects out a unique one in which firms price in the first-period as in the static equilibrium, whereas the misinformative usage of advertising makes firms under advertise if and only if the marginal cost of advertising is high enough.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruiz-Aliseda, Francisco, 2009. "Misinformative advertising," IESE Research Papers D/809, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0809

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Godfrey Keller & Sven Rady, 1999. "Optimal Experimentation in a Changing Environment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 475-507.
    2. Joseph B. Mazzola & Kevin F. McCardle, 1996. "A Bayesian Approach to Managing Learning-Curve Uncertainty," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(5), pages 680-692, May.
    3. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    4. Michael H. Riordan, 1985. "Imperfect Information and Dynamic Conjectural Variations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 41-50, Spring.
    5. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1986. "A "Signal-Jamming" Theory of Predation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 366-376, Autumn.
    6. Gene M. Grossman & Carl Shapiro, 1984. "Informative Advertising with Differentiated Products," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 63-81.
    7. Avinash Dixit & Victor Norman, 1978. "Advertising and Welfare," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    8. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-239, March.
    9. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
    10. Xavier Vives, 2009. "Strategic complementarity in multi-stage games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 40(1), pages 151-171, July.
    11. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2003. " Price Dispersion and Learning in a Dynamic Differentiated-Goods Duopoly," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 138-165, Spring.
    12. Mark N. Hertzendorf, 1993. "I'm Not a High-Quality Firm -- But I Play One on TV," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 236-247, Summer.
    13. Dana, James D, Jr, 2001. "Competition in Price and Availability When Availability is Unobservable," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 497-513, Autumn.
    14. McAfee, R Preston & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Opportunism in Multilateral Vertical Contracting: Nondiscrimination, Exclusivity, and Uniformity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 210-230, March.
    15. Ramon Caminal & Xavier Vives, 1996. "Why Market Shares Matter: An Information-Based Theory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 221-239, Summer.
    16. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-1365, November.
    17. Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
    18. Horstmann, Ignatius & MacDonald, Glenn, 2003. "Is advertising a signal of product quality? Evidence from the compact disc player market, 1983-1992," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 317-345, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Firms; Productivity; Catalonia; Innovation;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0809. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Noelia Romero). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.