Advertiser Learning in Direct Advertising Markets

42 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2023

See all articles by Carl F. Mela

Carl F. Mela

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Jason M.T. Roos

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Tulio Sousa

Duke University

Date Written: July 13, 2023

Abstract

Direct buy advertisers procure advertising inventory at fixed rates from publishers and ad networks. Such advertisers face the complex task of choosing ads amongst myriad new publisher sites. We offer evidence that advertisers do not excel at making these choices. Instead, they try many sites before settling on a favored set, consistent with advertiser learning. We subsequently model advertiser demand for publisher inventory wherein advertisers learn about advertising efficacy across publishers' sites. Results suggest that advertisers spend considerable resources advertising on sites they eventually abandon—in part because their prior beliefs about advertising efficacy on those sites are too optimistic. The median advertiser's expected CTR at a new site is 0.23%, five times higher than the true median CTR of 0.045%.

We consider how pooling advertiser information remediates this problem. Specifically, we show that ads with similar visual elements garner similar CTRS, enabling advertisers to better predict ad performance at new sites. Counterfactual analyses indicate that gains from pooling advertiser information are substantial: over six months, we estimate a median advertiser welfare gain of $2,756 (a 15.5% increase) and a median publisher revenue gain of $9,618 (a 63.9% increase).

Keywords: Display advertising, Learning models, Bayesian estimation

JEL Classification: C11, C51, D61, D83, L14, L82, L86, M31, M37

Suggested Citation

Mela, Carl F. and Roos, Jason M.T. and Sousa, Tulio, Advertiser Learning in Direct Advertising Markets (July 13, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4508118 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4508118

Carl F. Mela

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7767 (Phone)

Jason M.T. Roos

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 (0)10 408 25 27 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jasonmtroos.com

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Tulio Sousa (Contact Author)

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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