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Last minute bidding equilibrium in second price internet auctions

  • Nicola Dimitri

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    In recent years internet auctions have attracted much attention. This paper discusses a possible explanation for empirical evidence, notably in fixed-end auctions such as eBay, showing a low number of offers early in the auction, with most of the bids concentrated towards the end of the auction. This “last minute bidding” (sniping) phenomenon was first investigated by Roth and Ockenfels (2002). Unlike standard auctions where each offer is processed by the auctioneer, due to system traffic and connection time in eBay close-end auctions very late bids may get lost and left unprocessed by the auction site. Based on this observation, in a simple two-player game theoretic model with private values, we analyze how the possibility that a bid might not be accepted by the system could affect bidders’ strategic decision to offer late. We find that late bidding, with no offer early in the auction, could be a Nash Equilibrium if players’ values for the object on sale are not too different, with the difference depending upon the relevant probabilities for last minute bids to be successfully placed.

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    Paper provided by Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena in its series Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena with number 001.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:usi:depfid:001
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Piazza San Francesco 7, 53100 Siena
    Web page: http://www.depfid.unisi.it/
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    1. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2002. "Cyberspace Auctions and Pricing Issues: A Review of Empirical Findings," Working Papers 02005, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    2. Ladislav Wintr, 2008. "Some Evidence On Late Bidding In Ebay Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(3), pages 369-379, 07.
    3. Patrick Bajari & Ali Horta�su, 2004. "Economic Insights from Internet Auctions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 457-486, June.
    4. Dan Ariely & Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "An Experimental Analysis of Ending Rules in Internet Auctions," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-47, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    5. Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2001. "The Timing of Bids in Internet Auctions: Market Design, Bidder Behavior, and Artificial Agents," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-33, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    6. 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.
    7. Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2003. "Late and Multiple Bidding in Second Price Internet Auctions: Theory and Evidence Concerning Different Rules for Ending an Auction," CESifo Working Paper Series 992, CESifo Group Munich.
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