Advertising, Pricing & Market Structure in Competitive Matching Markets
This paper develops a model of pricing and advertising in a matching environment with capacity constrained sellers. Sellers' expenditure on directly informative advertising attracts consumers only probabilistically. Consumers who happen to observe advertisements randomize over the advertised sellers using symmetric mixed strategies. Equilibrium prices and profit maximizing advertising levels are derived and their properties analyzed, including the interplay of prices and advertising with the market structure. The model generates a unimodal (inverted U-shape) relationship between both, individual and industry advertising level, and market structure. The relationship results from a trade off between a price effect and a market structure-matching effect. We find that the decentralized market has underprovision of advertising, both for individual sellers and industry wide, and that entry is excessive relative to the efficient level. We present a quantitative analysis to highlight properties of the models and to demonstrate the extent of inefficiency.
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