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eBay Economists Mine Behavioral Data to Improve the Marketplace

eBay employs four full-time economists who analyze data generated by 100 million users and 400 million active listings, and who mine behavioral data for insights – and it’s looking for more help. eBay is attending the American Economic Association conference in Philadelphia this week in part to recruit a one-year postdoctoral associate to work with the economists.

eBay’s Economics Center of Excellence is part of the eBay Research Labs headed by Eric Brill, who joined eBay in 2009 from Microsoft, where he led the Text Mining, Search and Navigation Research Group. Brill’s expertise includes natural language processing and data mining.

Steve Tadelis (pictured above) started eBay’s economics research team in 2011 after taking a leave from his teaching post at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He was quoted in a Bloomberg article on Thursday about how companies can benefit from rigorous analysis of big data. “At eBay, economists’ work has led to insights that influenced product development for the benefit of the company’s customers,” eBay wrote in a blog post about the article.

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Tadelis leads the team in focusing on the economics of ecommerce, with particular attention to creating better matches of buyers and sellers, reducing market frictions by increasing trust and safety in eBay’s marketplace, understanding the underlying value of different advertising and marketing strategies, and exploring the market benefits of different pricing structures.

eBay describes the Economics Center of Excellence as focusing on “leveraging applied and theoretical microeconomic research, as well as algorithmic game theory and mechanism design, to expand the frontiers of eCommerce research, as well as provide rigorous analysis and modeling that will support business decision making. Using a variety of micro-econometric tools and microeconomics models, the Economics team has been involved in exploring such issues as trust, reputation, marketing effectiveness, bargaining, consumer search and pricing strategies. We aspire to bring the fundamentals of the economics discipline to bear on some of the most challenging ecommerce research and business development questions. This requires working across disciplines within eBay’s labs and across different eBay Inc. teams. It is particularly exciting to engage in cross disciplinary research with folks from computer science areas like search, machine learning and natural language processing because we’re leveraging tools that push the envelope of economics.”

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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