Matt Backus

Matt Backus

Matt Backus joined eBay Research Labs as a postdoctoral scholar in June 2012. He is an economist with a focus on industrial organization and special interest in auctions, bargaining and negotiation, dynamic games, and two-sided markets.

Before joining eBay Research Labs he was a gradate student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he earned his Ph.D. in economics. He will join the Department of Economics at Cornell University as an assistant professor in Fall 2013.

Matt's contact information, CV, and working papers are available at his website. Click Here...

Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web, 88-96 (2015)

Is Sniping A Problem For Online Auction Markets?

A common complaint about online auctions for consumer goods is the presence of ``snipers,'' who place bids in the final seconds of sequential ascending auctions with predetermined ending times. The literature conjectures that snipers are best-responding to the existence of ``incremental" bidders that bid up to their valuation only as they are outbid. Snipers aim to catch these incremental bidders at a price below their reserve, with no time to respond. As a consequence, these incremental bidders may experience regret when they are outbid at the last moment at a price below their reservation value. We measure the effect of this experience on a new buyer's propensity to participate in future auctions. We show the effect to be causal using a carefully selected subset of auctions from and instrumental variables estimation strategy. Bidders respond to sniping quite strongly and are between 4 and 18 percent less likely to return to the platform.