Computational Economics

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 687–710 | Cite as

Emergent Heterogeneity in Keyword Valuation in Sponsored Search Markets: A Closer-to-Practice Perspective

  • Agam Gupta
  • Biswatosh Saha
  • Uttam K. Sarkar


Reported literature in sponsored search advertising markets asserts that at equilibrium an advertiser has no incentive to swap her position with another advertiser and her bid on a keyword would be bound with the click value acting as an upper bound. We investigate a closer-to-practice case where advertisers do not have an ex-ante known value per click and her bid on a keyword is an outcome of simple cost-cap heuristics on a portfolio of keywords. Using simulations and an experimental setup containing advertisers that have the same upper-cap on cost, we show that the distribution of advertisers’ cost per click and bids are emergent in nature. Keywords exhibit ex post heterogeneity in observed valuation even when all advertisers bid under the same cost-cap constraint. We explore the dynamics of the market, such as temporal stability of advertiser’s bids, and advertiser’s rank based on the click-share along with the distribution of ex post valuation of keywords associated with this closer to practice setup. The results call for a richer understanding of these markets that can incorporate temporal interdependence between auctions of a keyword as well as boundedly rational behavior of advertisers working under imperfect information.


Sponsored search Google auctions Keyword auctions Emergent heterogeneity Practice Temporal dynamics in auctions Simulations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management Information Systems GroupIndian Institute of Management TiruchirappalliTiruchirappalliIndia
  2. 2.Strategic Management GroupIndian Institute of Management CalcuttaKolkataIndia
  3. 3.Management Information Systems GroupIndian Institute of Management CalcuttaKolkataIndia

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