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

Bidders on eBay frequently engage in sniping: that is, submitting a bid seconds before an auction closes. Using a field experiment, we attempt to measure the size of the benefit of sniping (if any). To do this we 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 we submitted an early bid, and in the other we submitted the same bid exactly ten seconds before its close. Our results, from a set of 70 such pairs, indicate no benefit to sniping: we found evidence of 2.54% lower prices for the sniped auctions, but we did not find this benefit to be statistically significant. Additionally, we use our data to make a survey of the incidence of sniping and compare our findings with those of Roth and Ockenfels (2002).


First version: April 2004

This version: July 2013

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