Information Asymmetry and Hybrid Advertising
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management
University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business
March 21, 2014
Robert H. Smith School Research Paper No. RHS 06-139
Pay-for-performance (P4P) pricing schemes such as pay-per-click and pay-per-action have grown in popularity in Internet advertising. Meanwhile, the traditional pay-per-impression (PPI) scheme persists, and several advertising publishers have started to offer a hybrid mix of PPI and P4P schemes. Given the proliferation of pricing scheme choices, our study examines the optimal choices for advertising publishers. We highlight two-sided information asymmetries in online advertising markets and the consequent tradeoffs faced by a high-quality publisher using P4P schemes. When there exists information asymmetry, P4P pricing schemes enable a high-quality publisher to reveal her superior quality; on the other hand, they may incur allocative inefficiencies stemming from inaccurate estimates of advertiser qualities. Our study identifies conditions under which a publisher may opt for a PPI, P4P, or a hybrid scheme and in doing so provides a theoretical explanation for the observed variations in the pricing schemes across publishers. Using a new “uncompromised” equilibrium refinement, we also demonstrate that the hybrid scheme can emerge as an equilibrium choice in a wide range of conditions. In addition to explaining the co-existence of multiple pricing schemes and the growing popularity of hybrid pricing schemes, our study also provide prescriptive guidelines for firms making choices among different pricing schemes.
Keywords: Online Advertising, Pay-for-Performance, Information Asymmetry, Hybrid Pricing
JEL Classification: C72, D82, M37
Date posted: October 27, 2010 ; Last revised: May 6, 2014
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