Greg Taylor
Microeconomist at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Research Papers & Publications

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Working Papers & Work in Progress

"Bundling in Platform Markets", with Alexandre de Cornière
Working Paper (coming soon).
"A Model of Biased Intermediation", with Alexandre de Cornière
Working Paper (2016; first version 2014).
[working paper]

This paper studies situations in which some consumers rely on a potentially biased intermediary to choose among downstream firms. We introduce the notion that firms' and consumers' payoffs can be congruent or conflicting, and show that this has important implications for the effects of bias. Under congruence, the firm towards which the intermediary is biased invests more than its rival and consumers can be better-off than under no bias. Under conflict, bias hurts consumers and the favored firm charges higher prices. We study various oft-proposed policies for dealing with a biased intermediary and show that the efficacy of each intervention depends strongly on whether the environment exhibits congruence or conflict. We discuss how the model relates to recent issues in online markets.

Peer Reviewed Journal Publications

"Raising Search Costs To Deter Window Shopping Can Increase Profits and Welfare",
RAND Journal of Economics, (forthcoming).
[working paper version] [supplementary appendix]

Consumers tend to browse products in which they are interested and firms often choose to invest resources in selling to those consumers. A consequence, as I show, is it is optimal for a firm to increase the cost of browsing (even though this drives away potential customers) because doing so allows it to target its sales efforts at those consumers most likely to buy. Despite representing pure waste, this can increase welfare by facilitating the efficient allocation of sales or marketing resources. For a similar reason, consumers often benefit from search costs in aggregate, and prefer them to other means of screening, such as increases in price. (This paper was previously titled "Browsing, Salesmanship, and the Welfare Consequences of Obfuscation".)

"Integration and Search Engine Bias", with Alexandre de Cornière,
RAND Journal of Economics, 45(3) (2014), 576–597.
[working paper version] [published versionpaywall]

We study the effects of integration between a search engine and a publisher. In a model in which the search engine (i) allocates users across publishers and (ii) competes with publishers to attract advertisers, we find that the search engine is biased against publishers that display many ads—even without integration. Integration can (but need not) lead to own-content bias. It can also benefit consumers by reducing the nuisance costs due to excessive advertising. Advertisers are more likely to suffer from integration than consumers. On net, the welfare effects of integration are ambiguous.

"Search Quality and Revenue Cannibalization by Competing Search Engines",
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 22(3) (2013), 445–467.
[working paper version] [published versionpaywall] [supplementary appendix]

Consumers are attracted by high quality search results. Search engines, though, essentially compete against themselves as consumers are induced to substitute away from advertisement links when their organic counterparts are of high quality. I characterize the effect of such revenue cannibalisation upon equilibrium quality levels when search engines compete for customer clicks. Revenue cannibalisation provides an incentive for quality degradation, engendering low quality equilibria even when quality provision is costless. When consumers exhibit search engine loyalty there is a ceiling above which result quality cannot rise, regardless of what the maximum technologically feasible quality happens to be.

"Defensive Sniping and Efficiency in Simultaneous Hard-Close Proxy Auctions",
Journal of Mathematical Economics, 48(1) (2012), 51-58.
[working paper version] [published versionpaywall]

A well-known myopic bidding strategy fails to support an equilibrium of simultaneous ascending proxy auctions for heterogeneous items when a hard-close rule is in place. This is because, in common with the single-auction case, last minute bidding (sniping) is a best response to naïve behaviour. However, a modification to the myopic strategy in which all bidders submit an additional bid in the closing stages of the auction—a practice I call 'defensive sniping'—is shown to yield an efficient, belief-free equilibrium of such environments. This equilibrium is essentially unique within the class of belief-free, efficient equilibria. (This paper was previously titled "Ending Rules in Simultaneous Ascending Auctions: Insights From Auctions on the Internet").

"The Informativeness of On-line Advertising",
International Journal of Industrial Organization, 29(6) (2011), 668-677.
[working paper version] [published versionpaywall]

Sending general advertisements with inflationary claims may attract additional visitors with whom an advertiser is poorly matched. This is costly when ads are priced per-click because many visitors (clickers) will not purchase. This renders per-click advertising particularly conducive to the transmission of information via ads. The admissibility of information transmission depends not only on advertiser behaviour, but also upon consumers' interpretation of and trust in ads. In less conducive environments, consumers quickly learn to place little stock in the claims they see advertised. This mechanism undermines the ability of advertisers and consumers to communicate under per-impression or per-sale fee structures. Consumers benefit from increased informativeness, but distortions introduced by the market power given to advertisers imply that society may be better-off with no information transmission taking place.

Book Contributions & Other Publications

"When the Winning Move is Not to Play: Games of Deterrence in Cyber Security", with Chad Heitzenrater and Andrew Simpson,
Decision and Game Theory for Security (Lecture Notes in Computer Science vol. 9406), 250–269.
"Scarcity of Attention for a Medium of Abundance: An Economic Perspective"
in W. H. Dutton & M. Graham (eds.) Society and the Internet: How Information and Social Networks are Changing Our Lives, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK (2014).
"RE: Search" (introduction to a special issue), with Mark Graham and Ralph Schroeder,
New Media & Society, 16(2) (2014), 187–194.
"What Makes Google Tick?",
Economic Review, 28(2) (2010), 16–19.

Projects on Indefinite Hold

"Attention Retention: Targeted Advertising and the Ex Post Role of Media Content",
(last updated 2013; first version 2010).