Tom Blake

Tom Blake
Research Scientist

Tom is part of a new cohort of Economists at eBay Research Labs that brings research focus to eBay’s market design, experimentation, and econometric analysis.

His research experience spans a range of empirical topics in industrial organization including: price discrimination, joint optimal pricing strategies, marketing, transportation and energy economics. He has worked on questions in energy markets, real estate, the retail clothing industry, retail grocery outlets, and airlines. Since joining eBay Labs in July 2012, he has worked on large scale field experiments in marketing, seller information tools, and customer engagement systems.Prior to his research career, he worked as a litigation consultant where he computed economic damages and aided in corporate fraud investigations. And in his early school days, he worked in information technology, database management and network development.

Tom has a PhD and MA in Economics from the University of California, Davis and a BA in Mathematics and Economics from the University of California, San Diego.


"Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large Scale Field Experiment"
Forthcoming, Econometrica.
With Chris Nosko and Steve Tadelis.
"Why Marketplace Experimentation is Harder than it Seems: The Role of Test-Control Interference"
Conference Proceedings, 15th ACM Conference on Economics and Computation, 2014
with Dominic Coey
"Is Sniping A Problem For Online Auction Markets?" With Matt Backus, Dimitriy Masterov, and Steve Tadelis.
Forthcoming, Proceedings of the 24th international conference on World wide web.
What's Exile to the Exurbs Worth? Commuting Costs and Geographic Sorting in the Housing Market"
"Stuffing the Belly: Air Freight Demand and Passenger Prices in the Presence of Weight Capacity Constraints"
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.