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Buy-it-now or Take-a-chance: Price Discrimination through Randomized Auctions

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  • L. Elisa Celis
  • Gregory Lewis
  • Markus M. Mobius
  • Hamid Nazerzadeh

Abstract

Increasingly detailed consumer information makes sophisticated price discrimination possible. At fine levels of aggregation, demand may not obey standard regularity conditions. We propose a new randomized sales mechanism for such environments. Bidders can "buy-it-now" at a posted price, or "take-a-chance" in an auction where the top d > 1 bidders are equally likely to win. The randomized allocation incentivizes high valuation bidders to buy-it-now. We analyze equilibrium behavior, and apply our analysis to advertiser bidding data from Microsoft Advertising Exchange. In counterfactual simulations, our mechanism increases revenue by 4.4% and consumer surplus by 14.5% compared to an optimal second-price auction.

Suggested Citation

  • L. Elisa Celis & Gregory Lewis & Markus M. Mobius & Hamid Nazerzadeh, 2012. "Buy-it-now or Take-a-chance: Price Discrimination through Randomized Auctions," NBER Working Papers 18590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18590
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Péter Eső & Balázs Szentes, 2007. "Optimal Information Disclosure in Auctions and the Handicap Auction," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 705-731.
    2. Avi Goldfarb & Catherine Tucker, 2011. "Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 389-404, 05-06.
    3. Randall Lewis & Justin M. Rao & David H. Reiley, 2015. "Measuring the Effects of Advertising: The Digital Frontier," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Analysis of the Digital Economy, pages 191-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ostrovsky, Michael & Schwarz, Michael, 2009. "Reserve Prices in Internet Advertising Auctions: A Field Experiment," Research Papers 2054, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    5. Madarász, Kristóf & Prat, Andrea, 2010. "Screening with an Approximate Type Space," CEPR Discussion Papers 7900, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1994. "Supplying Information to Facilitate Price Discrimination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 309-327, May.
    7. Budish, Eric B. & Takeyama, Lisa N., 2001. "Buy prices in online auctions: irrationality on the internet?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 325-333, September.
    8. Santiago R. Balseiro & Omar Besbes & Gabriel Y. Weintraub, 2012. "Auctions for Online Display Advertising Exchanges: Approximations and Design," Working Papers 12-11, NET Institute.
    9. Pascal Courty & Li Hao, 2000. "Sequential Screening," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 697-717.
    10. Philip A. Haile & Elie Tamer, 2003. "Inference with an Incomplete Model of English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-51, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dirk Bergemann & Alessandro Bonatti, 2015. "Selling Cookies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 259-294, August.
    2. Lu, Y. & Gupta, A. & Ketter, W. & van Heck, H.W.G.M., 2017. "Information Transparency in B2B Auction Markets: The Role of Winner Identity Disclosure," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2017-006-LIS, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    3. repec:eee:ijrema:v:34:y:2017:i:3:p:622-640 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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