# Do you use sniping on Ebay or what is your bidding strategy?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by rnoldh, Nov 24, 2007.

1. ### HomerJSenior member

Messages:
4,561
53
Joined:
Aug 29, 2007
It's intuitive to me that sniping can be advantageous but a group of physicists have shown it through mathematic modeling. As pointed out earlier, if I bid the maximum I'm willing to pay early on, sniping has no effect on me. If I lose, the sniper was willing to pay more. But people aren't always rational on eBay and I've seen those bidding frenzies so as a buyer, I bid in the last few seconds (manually) and as a seller, I like to see early bidding. Here's the USA Today article about the research. To test whether sniping is a smart way to do things or just truncates normal bidding, the South Korean team at Seoul National University produced a "master equation" for how bidding proceeds (it's nk(t+1) — nk(t) = w(k-1)(t)*n(k-1)(t) — wk(t)*nk(t) + sigma(k,1)*u(t), if you really want to know), and then tested it against a massive number of auction records, some 264,073 items sold in one day on eBay and another 287,018 items sold in one year by eBay's Korean partner. Plugging all those data into the model and testing the outcome in terms of how the auctions turned out, the team found that the probability of submitting a winning bid on an item indeed drops with each bid. "Our analysis explicitly shows that the winning strategy is to bid at the last moment as the first attempt rather than incremental bidding from the start." The study appears in the current Physical Review E journal. The finding is no surprise to Harvard economist Alvin Roth, who has studied sniping from an economics viewpoint since 2002 with colleague Axel Ockenfels of Germany's University of Cologne. They came to similar conclusions. "I think you might do the most good if you advise bidders to form an opinion of how much they are willing to pay for an item, so that they don't get caught up in a bidding war and pay more than they will be happy with," says Roth, by e-mail. "But, that being said, if they know what proxy bid they want to submit, it won't hurt them to submit it very near the end (but neither will it help them much, or often ...) So, sniping is a good strategy, for those with the time to do it," he adds.

2. ### moonmanWell-Known Member

Messages:
81
0
Joined:
Aug 22, 2007
By the "Ebay autobid system", do you mean proxy bidding? There is a difference in that with the Ebay proxy system (autobid system), your lowest bid will show uo with your highest held in reserve (proxy). With a sniping service your highest bid is not entered till the last 10 seconds of the auction.

So let's say that there is a pair of shoes that you want to bid on. The start price is \$49.00. You want to bid a maximum of \$150. If you are the first bidder, your bid will show as \$49.00 and you will have the \$150 bid held in proxy. If someone wants to bid \$75, you will show as the first bidder of v\$75, and that bidder would have to bid higher.

If you've set up a snipe of \$155, nothing will happen till the last 10 seconds of the auction. At that time your maximum bid will be entered, but just like with Ebays proxy bidding system, your lowest winning bid will win. In the example above the standard Ebay proxy bidder would have his bid of \$150 entered, but you would win )in the last 10 seconds), with your bid of \$155. Of course, if he had set up a proxy of \$155, and you had set up a snipe of \$150, he would be the winner.

I guess the advantage of sniping is that you are holding your cards close to the vest and your bid is not entered till the last 10 seconds. Also, many times it appears like there will be no bidders in an auction, and people will bid just the start price, thinking that will win, and not knowing about the snipers out there.

Another possible advantage is that if you set up a snipe, I believe you are less likely to get involved in a bidding war at the end of an auction, than some one watching the end of the auction while they are bidding.

Yes, I think "proxy bidding" is the name of the eBay service that I am thinking of.

It is true that using the eBay proxy service will reveal to others that you are "in the hunt", which is not ideal, but in the final analysis, won't the person with the highest maximum bid win regardless of which system they use? And if you want to keep your cards close to your vest, you can simply wait until the last few minutes or so to enter your first bid. I don't usually bother.

The eBay "proxy bid" service is nice in that it will automatically adjust your bid (up to the maximum you specify) as other bids are placed, even in the flurry of activity in the last few seconds of an auction. This means that you can a) ignore the auction until it is over and b) end up paying less than your maximum bid if everyone else's bids are lower than your maximum.

Do sniping services have that kind of iterative capability or do they just send in a fixed bid at the last second?

If they only send in a fixed bid at the last second, that seems like a fairly significant disadvantage compared to the eBay proxy service.

3. ### yfyfAffiliate vendorAffiliate Vendor

Messages:
3,463
37
Joined:
Apr 25, 2007
It's intuitive to me that sniping can be advantageous but a group of physicists have shown it through mathematic modeling.

As pointed out earlier, if I bid the maximum I'm willing to pay early on, sniping has no effect on me. If I lose, the sniper was willing to pay more. But people aren't always rational on eBay and I've seen those bidding frenzies so as a buyer, I bid in the last few seconds (manually) and as a seller, I like to see early bidding.

Here's the USA Today article about the research.

The crux of sniping is to avoid getting dragged into a bidding war. The Korean team applied their model to existing evidence and found the implication to be: the more bids you put in, the less likely you are to win the auction because you yourself have participated and incited a bidding war.

Someone else said earlier on the thread that an early high bid wards off potential competition, however this may not necessarily be true since your highest bid is not publicly visible. Also, it seems that on eBay, people don't tend to act early, but put in their bids very close to the end and often using sniping tools. This may be related to the fact that a lot of people are browsing ebay and simply click on the auctions finishing soonest.

A sniped bid at the price you're happy to pay for something may be the more efficient solution IF there was no bidding war going on in the first place. However, if there already was a lot of bidding going on, the price has already been driven up and the snipe makes no difference.

Furthermore, if EVERYONE started using sniping tools, the situation becomes similar to a blind auction. e.g. 5 people all snipe in the last 10 seconds and there is no way to react to someone else's bid in such little time. Thus, everyone just snipes the maximum they would be willing to pay for the good. If that were the case ... might as well just put exactly what you're willing to pay for the good early on and check back on the auction when it's over.

4. ### California DreamerSenior member

Messages:
5,748
1,420
Joined:
Nov 6, 2006
Location:
Melbourne
Gixen sounds better than JBidWatcher, which is the sniper I use. I recently missed getting a near-new Hamilton watch for \$1 because I left the computer off overnight. Would Gixen have prevented that? And does it work on a Mac?

5. ### NoVaguySenior member

Messages:
6,543
120
Joined:
Oct 15, 2004
Location:
Guv'mintFlunkyLand
Yes, I think "proxy bidding" is the name of the eBay service that I am thinking of.

It is true that using the eBay proxy service will reveal to others that you are "in the hunt", which is not ideal, but in the final analysis, won't the person with the highest maximum bid win regardless of which system they use? And if you want to keep your cards close to your vest, you can simply wait until the last few minutes or so to enter your first bid. I don't usually bother.

The eBay "proxy bid" service is nice in that it will automatically adjust your bid (up to the maximum you specify) as other bids are placed, even in the flurry of activity in the last few seconds of an auction. This means that you can a) ignore the auction until it is over and b) end up paying less than your maximum bid if everyone else's bids are lower than your maximum.

Do sniping services have that kind of iterative capability or do they just send in a fixed bid at the last second?

If they only send in a fixed bid at the last second, that seems like a fairly significant disadvantage compared to the eBay proxy service.

i'm not sure you actually understand how the sniping service works. proxy bidding is a type of bidding system. sniping is about when you send that bid to ebay (or any other auction service with a fixed end time). when on ebay, the sniping service still sends in a proxy bid - it just comes in very near to the end of the auction. the ebay sniping services we're talking about submit proxy bids.

6. ### NoVaguySenior member

Messages:
6,543
120
Joined:
Oct 15, 2004
Location:
Guv'mintFlunkyLand
The eBay "proxy bid" service is nice in that it will automatically adjust your bid (up to the maximum you specify) as other bids are placed, even in the flurry of activity in the last few seconds of an auction. This means that you can a) ignore the auction until it is over and b) end up paying less than your maximum bid if everyone else's bids are lower than your maximum.

also - what you're ignoring is typical irrational ebay bidding behavior.

Let's say we have you, Mr "rational bidder", who simply sets his proxy bid and forgets it. And we have the typical ebay bidder, who checks the item multiple times a day and tries to be the high bidder every now and then. If you submit your "high max" bid with plenty of time to bid it, then the typical ebay bidder might bid over to win or bid up to figure out your max, and then maybe get swept up into the moment and bid over at the last second.

Whereas if you don't bid, the irrational ebay bidder bids below his maximum, thinks he or she is winning, and can get surprised by a last minute by you. if you snipe, this happens a lot.

7. ### rnoldhSenior member

Messages:
13,863
1,104
Joined:
Jul 24, 2006
Gixen sounds better than JBidWatcher, which is the sniper I use. I recently missed getting a near-new Hamilton watch for \$1 because I left the computer off overnight. Would Gixen have prevented that? And does it work on a Mac?
Yes, it would have avoided that. I used to use jbidwatcher till I found out about gixen. gixen is a true sniping service in that, once you've set up your snipe, you don't have to be on line and your snipe will be entered even if you are off line. I don't know about Mac. Check gixens website.

8. ### underwearerSenior member

Messages:
1,453
3
Joined:
Sep 13, 2007
Location:
reverbia
I don't bid until the last minute or so. I think when people bid early (like 6 days) it drives the price up. There is no need to bid untill the last minute unless you are going to be away when the auction ends.

I also bid on items from 'sketchy' sellers. I don't advise this but ive got some really good deals this way. This is where not bidding till the last minute pays off because if the seller has a low or zero feedback rating or is a first time seller, I feel if you bid early others will feel safe to bid as well, where as if nobody bids nobody will because they are scared. This is risky of course but so far its workd great for me. (Knock wood)

9. ### knittieguySenior member

Messages:
1,027
27
Joined:
Jul 7, 2005
One nice thing about some sniping programs (I use esnipe, which charges a very small fee, so small I hardly ever notice it) is that you can create a "bid group" and bid for a number of auctions and as soon as you win one of them the program will then automatically cancel the remaining bids (since they haven't been submitted to eBay yet). For instance, if you want a Nikon D40 camera you can figure out the maximum price you are willing to pay and schedule bids on esnipe for 10 different auctions for D40s and if you lose the first six but win the seventh auction, the program will cancel the remaining bids so there is no possibility of ending up with 4 cameras you have to buy. The auctions have to end at least 5 minutes apart, but otherwise it works like a charm.
Personally I use sniping primarily as a tool to keep me from getting emotionally invested in an auction and bidding too much in a bidding war.

10. ### DocHollidaySenior memberDubiously Honored

Messages:
16,118
1,091
Joined:
Apr 21, 2005
Location:
Tombstone
I snipe not just to avoid bidding wars but to limit my opportunity for bidding. On more than one occasion I've decided my max bid wasn't really my max bid because it wasn't enough to win the auction. With sniping, it either is or it isn't.

It also takes ego out of the equation. Some people will bid more just because they take offense at being outbid.

11. ### stickonatreeSenior member

Messages:
3,067
2
Joined:
Nov 8, 2006
i just bid at the last second anyhow. i put up 3 tabs on FF and have 3 different prices, then during the last 5 seconds or so i enter each of them one right after the other.

12. ### Joel_CairoSenior member

Messages:
5,589
6
Joined:
Jul 24, 2006
Location:
Cambridge, MA
It also takes ego out of the equation. Some people will bid more just because they take offense at being outbid.

13. ### moonmanWell-Known Member

Messages:
81
0
Joined:
Aug 22, 2007
i'm not sure you actually understand how the sniping service works. proxy bidding is a type of bidding system. sniping is about when you send that bid to ebay (or any other auction service with a fixed end time). when on ebay, the sniping service still sends in a proxy bid - it just comes in very near to the end of the auction. the ebay sniping services we're talking about submit proxy bids.
I have never used a sniping service and definitely don't know how they work. But it sounds to me from what I have read in this thread that they submit a single fixed bid at the last second. Is this correct?

The eBay proxy bidding service, which I use routinely, is a "set and forget" kind of thing. You tell it the maximum bid you are willing to submit and it watches the bidding for you electronically, including the last few seconds, and submits progressively higher bids up to your maximum bid.

If a sniping service (or multiple sniping services) submit one or more bids at the last second the eBay proxy service will still outbid it if the bidder using the proxy service's maximum bid is higher than the sniper's bid.

I may be wrong on this, but in my experience some of this electronic warfare seems to actually take place in the few seconds after the closing bell.

14. ### moonmanWell-Known Member

Messages:
81
0
Joined:
Aug 22, 2007
also - what you're ignoring is typical irrational ebay bidding behavior.

Let's say we have you, Mr "rational bidder", who simply sets his proxy bid and forgets it. And we have the typical ebay bidder, who checks the item multiple times a day and tries to be the high bidder every now and then. If you submit your "high max" bid with plenty of time to bid it, then the typical ebay bidder might bid over to win or bid up to figure out your max, and then maybe get swept up into the moment and bid over at the last second.

Whereas if you don't bid, the irrational ebay bidder bids below his maximum, thinks he or she is winning, and can get surprised by a last minute by you. if you snipe, this happens a lot.

Yes, I can see that happening. But if you are not trying to get the absolute cheapest price and are willing to set your maximum bid at what you consider a reasonable but non lowball value, most irrational bidders will head for the hills before they hit your maximum because they are looking for a screaming deal, not a "reasonable" deal.

If I understand how the sniping services work (and it is very possible that I don't), it seems to me that they would be better for getting really excellent prices in a smaller percentage of auctions but that the eBay proxy system would probably be better for getting reasonable (but higher) prices if you really wanted to maximize your possibility of winning an auction while still holding out the possibility of getting an excellent deal if no one appears at the last minute to bid things up.

Messages:
179