To Score or Not to Score? Estimates of a Sponsored Search Auction Model
We estimate a structural model of a sponsored search auction model. To accomodate the "position paradox", we relax the assumption of decreasing click volumes with position ranks, which is often assumed in the literature. Using data from "Website X", one of the largest online market places in China, we find that merchants of different qualities adopt different bidding strategies: high quality merchants bid more aggressively for informative keywords, while low quality merchants are more likely to be sorted to the top positions for value keywords. Counterfactual evaluations show that the price trend becomes steeper after moving to a score-weighted generalized second price auction, with much higher prices obtained for the top position but lower prices for the other positions. Overall, there is only a very modest change in total revenue from introducing popularity scoring, despite the intent in bid scoring to reward popular merchants with price discounts.