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The dynamics of mass online marketplaces: a case study of an online auction
Hahn J.  Human factors in computing systems (Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference, Seattle, Washington, United States,317-324.2001.Type:Proceedings
Date Reviewed: Dec 1 2001

This interesting study analyzed 2802 items offered on the Internet auction site eBay ( in one day, using the Virtual Online Data Kollecting Agent (VODKA). Data were gathered on 11 eBay item sub-categories in three broad item categories, representing varied levels of market activity. The author identified three key dimensions of auction marketplaces:

  1. market technostructure: a) auction configuration and b) market management
  2. market navigation: a) basic navigation structure, b) add-on navigation aids and c) location (default listing versus “featured item”)
  3. item display (visual cues): a) use of an image and b) boldface type.

The study examined the impact of the three navigation variables and two item display variables on the number of hits per item and the subsequent number of bids. Hits were highly correlated with bids, leading the author to conclude that “the process of effectively locating key to user success.” Market navigation features were found to be stronger predictors of both hits and bids than item display variables were, suggesting that incorporating fancy graphics or bold headlines is of marginal use.

Complete bidding histories were available for 113 of the 2802 auctions. For these, the timing of bids was examined. For all auction durations (between three and ten days), the greatest number of bids took place on the final day of bidding, and in most cases the second-greatest number of bids took place on the first day of bidding.

This study is a good early step towards shedding light on the impact of various design elements on auction user behavior.

Reviewer:  Janis L. Gogan Review #: CR125564 (0112-0467)
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Electronic Commerce (K.4.4 )
User Interfaces (H.5.2 )
User/ Machine Systems (H.1.2 )
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