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Measuring the Benefits to Sniping on eBay: Evidence From a Field Experiment

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Executive Summary

Bidders on eBay frequently engage in sniping: that is, submitting a bid seconds before an auction closes. Using a field experiment, the authors attempt to measure the size of the benefit of sniping (if any). To do this they selected pairs of auctions that were as identical as possible (same item, same quality, same seller, similar closing time, et cetera). In one auction of each pair the authors submitted an early bid, and in the other they submitted the same bid exactly ten seconds before its close. Their results, from a set of 70 such pairs, indicate no benefit to sniping: they found evidence of 2.54% lower prices for the sniped auctions, but the authors did not find this benefit to be statistically significant.

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