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Learning from Seller Experiements in Online Markets


  • Liran Einav

    () (Economics Department, Stanford University)

  • Theresa Kuchler

    () (Economics Department, Stanford University)

  • Jonathan Levin

    () (Economics Department, Stanford University)

  • Neel Sundaresan

    () (eBay Research Labs)


The internet has dramatically reduced the cost of varying prices, dis- plays and information provided to consumers, facilitating both active and passive experimentation. We document the prevalence of targeted pricing and auction design variation on eBay, and identify hundreds of thousands of experiments con- ducted by sellers across a wide array of retail products. We show how this type of data can be used to address questions about consumer behavior and market outcomes, and provide illustrative results on price dispersion, the frequency of over-bidding, the choice of reserve prices, ?buy now?options and other auction design parameters, and on consumer sensitivity to shipping fees. We argue that leveraging the experiments of market participants takes advantage of the scale and heterogeneity of online markets and can be a powerful approach for testing and measurement.

Suggested Citation

  • Liran Einav & Theresa Kuchler & Jonathan Levin & Neel Sundaresan, 2011. "Learning from Seller Experiements in Online Markets," Discussion Papers 10-033, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-033

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patrick Bajari & Ali Horta├žsu, 2004. "Economic Insights from Internet Auctions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 457-486, June.
    2. Anderson, Steve & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett & Singh, Nirvikar, 2004. "Buy it Now: A Hybrid Internet Market Institution," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt21d715v9, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    3. Jennifer Brown & Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2010. "Shrouded Attributes and Information Suppression: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 859-876.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liran Einav & Dan Knoepfle & Jonathan Levin & Neel Sundaresan, 2014. "Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Jonathan Levin, 2011. "The Economics of Internet Markets," Discussion Papers 10-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Philippe Jehiel & Laurent Lamy, 2015. "On absolute auctions and secret reserve prices," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 241-270, June.
    4. Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2014. "The Data Revolution and Economic Analysis," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 1-24.
    5. Nicola Lacetera & Bradley J. Larsen & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2016. "Bid Takers or Market Makers? The Effect of Auctioneers on Auction Outcome," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 195-229, November.
    6. Wang, Zhongmin & Xu, Minbo, 2013. "Selling a Dollar for More Than a Dollar? Evidence from Online Penny Auctions," Discussion Papers dp-13-15, Resources For the Future.
    7. Benjamin Edelman, 2012. "Using Internet Data for Economic Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 189-206, Spring.
    8. Liran Einav & Chiara Farronato & Jonathan D. Levin & Neel Sundaresan, 2013. "Sales Mechanisms in Online Markets: What Happened to Internet Auctions?," NBER Working Papers 19021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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