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Pacing Equilibrium in First-Price Auction Markets

by   Vincent Conitzer, et al.
Duke University

In ad auctions--the prevalent monetization mechanism of Internet companies--advertisers compete for online impressions in a sequential auction market. Since advertisers are typically budget-constrained, a common tool employed to improve their ROI is that of pacing, i.e., uniform scaling of their bids to preserve their budget for a longer duration. If the advertisers are excessively paced, they end up not spending their budget, while if they are not sufficiently paced, they use up their budget too soon. Therefore, it is important that they are paced at just the right amount, a solution concept that we call a pacing equilibrium. In this paper, we study pacing equilibria in the context of first-price auctions, which are popular in the theory of ad mechanisms. We show existence, uniqueness, and efficient computability of first-price pacing equilibria (FPPE), while also establishing several other salient features of this solution concept. In the process, we uncover a sharp contrast between these solutions and second price pacing equilibria (SPPE), the latter being known to produce non-unique, fragile solutions that are also computationally hard to obtain. Simulations show that FPPE have better revenue properties than SPPE, that bidders have lower ex-post regret, and that incentives to misreport budgets for thick markets are smaller.


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