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Last Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Experiment on the Internet

Author

Listed:
  • Alvin E. Roth
  • Axel Ockenfels

Abstract

There is a great deal of late bidding on internet second price auctions. We show that this need not result from either common value properties of the objects being sold, or irrational behavior: late bidding can occur at equilibrium even in private value auctions. The reason is that very late bids have a positive probability of not being successfully submitted, and this opens a way for bidders to implicitly collude, and avoid bidding wars, in auctions such as those run by eBay, which have a fixed end time. A natural experiment is available because the auctions on Amazon, while operating under otherwise similar rules, do not have a fixed end time, but continue if necessary past the scheduled end time until ten minutes have passed without a bid. The strategic differences in the auction rules are reflected in the auction data by significantly more late bidding on eBay than on Amazon. Futhermore, more experienced bidders on eBay submit late bids more often than do less experienced bidders, while the effect of experience on Amazon goes in the opposite direction. On eBay, there is also more late bidding for antiques than for computers. We also find scale independence in the distribution over time of bidders' last bids, of a form strikingly similar to the deadline effect' noted in bargaining: last bids are distributed according to a power law. The evidence suggests that multiple causes contribute to late bidding, with strategic issues related to the rules about ending the auction playing an important role.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2000. "Last Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Experiment on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 7729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7729
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    Cited by:

    1. Gruner, Sven & Hirschauer, Norbert & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2014. "Potenzial Verschiedener Experimenteller Designs Für Die Politik-Folgenabschätzung," 54th Annual Conference, Goettingen, Germany, September 17-19, 2014 187601, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    2. Anwar, Sajid & McMillan, Robert & Zheng, Mingli, 2006. "Bidding behavior in competing auctions: Evidence from eBay," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 307-322, February.
    3. Silvia Caserta & Casper G. de Vries, 2005. "Auctions with Numerous Bidders," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-031/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Peters, Michael & Severinov, Sergei, 2006. "Internet auctions with many traders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 220-245, September.
    5. Rasmusen Eric Bennett, 2006. "Strategic Implications of Uncertainty over One's Own Private Value in Auctions," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22, November.
    6. Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Flavio Menezes & Matthew J. Ryan, 2006. "Auctions with options to re-auction," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 2(1), pages 17-39.
    7. Péter Esö & Lucy White, 2004. "Precautionary Bidding in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 77-92, January.
    8. Katkar Rama & Reiley David H, 2007. "Public versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results from a Pokémon Field Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-25, January.
    9. Grosof, Benjamin & Reeves, Daniel & Wellman, Michael, 2002. "Automated Negotiation from Declarative Contract Descriptions," Working papers 4188-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    10. Marta Stryszowska, 2004. "Late and Multiple Bidding in Competing Second Price," Working Papers 2004.16, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    11. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Last-Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Evidence from eBay and Amazon Auctions on the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1093-1103, September.
    12. Axel Ockenfels & David Reiley & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2006. "Online Auctions," NBER Working Papers 12785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. repec:wsi:ijitdm:v:03:y:2004:i:04:n:s0219622004001239 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Rama Katkar & David Lucking-Reiley, 2000. "Public Versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results of Pok�mon Field Experiment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0026, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    15. Ravi Bapna & Paulo Goes & Alok Gupta, 2003. "Analysis and Design of Business-to-Consumer Online Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 85-101, January.
    16. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2002. "Cyberspace Auctions and Pricing Issues: A Review of Empirical Findings," Working Papers 02005, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    17. Zhong, Hongjun, 2010. "Buy-price auction: A distributional approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 345-349, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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