Online Auctions: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations
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This dissertation, which consists of three essays, studies online auctions both theoretically and empirically. The first essay studies a special online auction format used by eBay, “Buy-It- Now” (BIN) auctions, in which bidders are allowed to buy the item at a fixed BIN price set by the seller and end the auction immediately. I construct a two-stage model in which the BIN price is only available to one group of bidders. I find that bidders cutoff is lower in this model, which means, bidders are more likely to accept the BIN option, compared with the models assuming all bidders are offered the BIN. The results explain the high frequency of bidders accepting BIN price, and may also help explain the popularity of temporary BIN auctions in online auction sites, such as eBay, where BIN option is only offered to early bidders. In the second essay, I study how bidders’ risk attitude and time preference affect their behavior in Buy-It-Now auctions. I consider two cases, when both bidders enter the auction at the same time (homogenous bidders) thus BIN option is offered to both of them, and when two bidders enter the auction at two different stages (heterogenous bidders) thus the BIN option is only offered to the early bidder. Bidders’ optimal strategies are derived explicitly in both cases. In particular, given bidders’ risk attitude and time preference, the cutoff valuation, such that a bidder will accept BIN if his valuation is higher than the cutoff valuation and reject it otherwise, is calculated. I find that the cutoff valuation in the case of heterogenous bidders is lower than that in the case of homogenous bidders. The third essay focuses on the empirical modeling of the price processes of online auctions. I generalize the monotone series estimator to model the pooled price processes. Then I apply the model and the estimator to eBay auction data of a palm PDA. The results are shown to capture closely the overall pattern of observed price dynamics. In particular, early bidding, mid-auction draught, and sniping are well approximated by the estimated price curve.
Monotone Series Estimator
Zhang, Yu (2010). Online Auctions: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from