GB2444085A - Auctioning similar items - Google Patents

Auctioning similar items Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2444085A
GB2444085A GB0623425A GB0623425A GB2444085A GB 2444085 A GB2444085 A GB 2444085A GB 0623425 A GB0623425 A GB 0623425A GB 0623425 A GB0623425 A GB 0623425A GB 2444085 A GB2444085 A GB 2444085A
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Prior art keywords
price
auction
elements
discount
figure
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GB0623425A
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GB0623425D0 (en )
Inventor
Martin Banbury
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BLUESUITE Ltd
LATECARD Ltd
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LATECARD Ltd
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • G06Q30/08Auctions, matching or brokerage

Abstract

A method of auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value is described. The method comprises the steps of arranging the elements in a list of perceived value, allocating a standard price for each of the elements, processing the standard price in combination with a price modifier to produce an actual price that may be higher than, lower than or the same as the standard price, inviting bidders to bid with a proposed price modifier (not an actual price) and ranking the price modifiers such that the bidders that bid the more attractive price modifiers are allocated the more highly ranked elements. The items may be advertising space, tickets for an event or transportation.

Description

Auctioning Items that Represent Similar Examples of an Item

Cross Reference to Related Applications

This application is the first patent application to be made by the applicant with respect to the subject matter.

Technical Field

The present invention relates to a method of auctioning a set of elements that represent similar examples of an item.

Background of the Invention

Many auctioning techniques are known, including techniques for performing online auctioning activities over the Internet and similar networks.

In these electronic auctions, it is necessary for the auctioning procedures to be conducted automatically by a server in response to receiving bids from browsing clients. Most auctions of this type are relatively straightforward in that a single element is being sold and the successful bidder is predominantly the one who places the highest bid.

A problem exists when the number of elements being sold is relatively high and the actual elements represent similar examples of a particular item.

Under these circumstances, a bidder often has a preference for a particular element but is prepared to accept an alternative element of perceived lower value, usually for a lower price. However, given known auctioning techniques it would, under these circumstances, be necessary to auction each element independently. Consequently, existing known auctioning techniques are not particularly helpful in environments of this type.

Brief Summary of the Invention

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value, comprising the steps of. arranging said elements in a list of perceived value; allocating a standard price for each of said elements; processing said standard price in combination with a price modifier to produce an actual price that may be higher than, lower than or the same as said standard price; inviting bidders to bid with a proposed price modifier (not an actual price; and ranking said price modifiers such that the bidders that bid with the more attractive price modifiers (from the seller's perspective)are allocated the more highly ranked elements.

Brief Description of the Several Views of the Drawings Figure 1 shows an example for conducting an auction for an individual element; Figure 2 shows an alternative auctioning environment; Figure 3 shows an example of an auctioning environment; Figure 4 shows an alternative representation of the environment illustrated in Figure 3; Figure 5 details the technical platform identified in Figure 3; Figure 6 details the data structure identified in Figure 5; Figure 7 shows an example of an item definition; Figure 8 illustrates an example of a demographic file; Figure 9 shows an example of an auction definition file; Figure 10 illustrates the timing of different phases of transaction; Figure 11 shows procedures performed by the processing environment during auction phase; Figure 12 shows detail of procedure 1101; Figure 13 shows detail of procedure 1102; Figure 14 shows a client terminal display; Figure 15 shows details of procedures 1103; and Figure 16 shows a user display of the type generated at step 1506.

Description of the Best Mode for Carrying out the Invention An example for conducting an auction for an individual element is illustrated in Figure 1. In this auction, the seller has identified a reserve price 101. At the instant under consideration, a current highest bid 102 exists.

The processes conducted for the particular auction are relatively straightforward. At step 103 a bid is received and at step 104 the question is asked as to whether the received bid is higher than the current highest bid 102. If this question is answered in the affirmative, the received bid replaces the current highest bid at step 105. Alternatively, if the question asked at step 104 is answered in the negative, the received bid is rejected at step 106. Most of the technical problems associated with the environment of Figure 1 relate to conducting a very large number of auctions in parallel.

An alternative auctioning environment is illustrated in Figure 2. In this example, elements 201 to 206 represent similar examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value. Thus, elements 201 to 206 are similar and each, to some extent, would satisfy the requirements of the bidder. However, from the bidder's perspective, some are perceived as being more valuable that others.

In particular, it is possible to go further and produce a linear ranking of perceived value, such that element 201 is perceived as being the most valuable while element 206 is perceived as being of the least valuable. Thus, as illustrated in column 207, a first value 208 has been allocated to element 201, a second value 209 has been allocated to element 202, a third value 210 has been allocated to element 203, a fourth value 211 has been allocated to element 204, a fifth value 212 has been allocated to element 205 and a sixth value 213 has been allocated to element 206.

A table 220 is shown in Figure 2 in which the elements of the list have been arranged in order of perceived value, starting at element 201 and descending to element 206. As shown in column 207 and as previously described, a standard price has been allocated for each of the elements.

During the auctioning process, the standard price is processed in combination with a price modifier to produce an actual price that may be higher than, lower than or the same as the standard price. In this example, the price modifier is a percentage discount and the actual price is calculated by subtracting the discount from the standard price. Bidders are invited to bid with a proposed price modifier. Thus, in this embodiment, the bidders are invited to propose discount values. Furthermore, the price modifiers are ranked such that the bidders that bid the more attractive price modifier (from the seller's perspective) are allocated the more highly ranked elements.

In the particular example shown, bids have been received for a two percent discount, a five percent discount, a ten percent discount, a fifteen percent discount, a twenty percent discount, a thirty percent discount and a fifty percent discount. Seven bids have been recognised but only six elements of the item exist. Thus, the least attractive bid (for a fifty percent discount) has failed but the remaining bids have been successful. However, the discounts have been ranked such that those offering a lower discount have been allocated the elements of higher perceived value. Thus, the bidder offering a two percent discount is allocated element 201, with the bidder offering a five percent discount being allocated element 202 and so on, such that element 206 is received by the bidder offering a thirty percent discount.

Thus, by bidding with respect to a price modifier (a discount in this embodiment) it is possible for technology, preferably embodied by a web server, to conduct a single auction for a plurality of elements that represent similar examples of an item. The particular nature of the item may be very varied. Typical examples may include tickets for seating in an event for example or in transportation for example. By way of example, a particular embodiment will be disclosed herein which relates to the auctioning of advertising space. It has been noticed that a substantial amount of advertising space, in national newspapers for example, remains unsold resulting in potential advertising space not being used or being used for non-profitable purposes. Traditionally, it has not been possible to provide an efficient technical solution for the auctioning of advertising space. This situation exists because in the majority of cases a single position in a newspaper for example represents a very small instance of an overall advertising campaign.

Furthermore, it is likely that several potential positions within a newspaper would be considered acceptable, provided that those of lower value were appropriately charged.

In the newspaper advertising industry, charges are modified with respect to the size of the advertisement (for example) and its position within the newspaper. Charging schemes are made readily available to potential advertisers and lists of standard charges are generally referred to as "ratecards". Thus, for any particular advertisement of any accepted type within any publication, a ratecard value exists which specifies what may be considered as a standard price for placing a particular advertisement type in a particular newspaper at a particular position on a particular day etc. However, it is accepted practice within the advertising industry to negotiate discounts.

These discounts may be given for various reasons but it is accepted practice for advertising space to be taken, that may not be perceived as being particularly attractive compared to alternatives if an appropriate discount can be obtained. Thus, in addition to the ratecard values representing standard charges (of differing values) for differing positions within a newspaper, different clients and agencies will have their own perceptions in terms of the particular value of an advertisement. Thus, for example, an advertisement for a particular product may be considered to be more appropriately placed in one position compared with another. However, overall, there is a general perception that some positions are better than others, such as being positioned at the top of the front page compared to an inside position towards the back of the newspaper.

The present embodiment therefore adopts the notion of trading with respect to discounts off ratecard as a mechanism for implementing a technical solution to providing an auction environment.

An example of an auctioning environment is illustrated in Figure 3. This includes large buyers 301 that, in this advertising example, may be considered as large corporate organisations with many products and many advertising campaigns In addition, within this environment, small buyers 302 also exist.

These represent organisations that may have a one off campaign as part of a marketing exercise for example but on the whole do not have large ongoing activities.

On the other side of the transactions, there exist large sellers 303 which in our advertising example may be represented by the publishers of national newspapers. Similarly, in addition, small sellers 304 also exist which may be considered, in this example, as local periodicals etc. The preferred embodiment of the present invention seeks to provide a sale and auctioning platform 305 implemented in technology so as to automate the sale and auctioning of advertising space.

Existing relationships, general'y making use of manual human interaction (by telephone for example) are illustrated by dotted connections 311, 312 and 313. The relationships reply heavily on the presence of advertising agencies 314 such that large buyers 301 would tend to communicate with these agencies who in turn would tend to communicate with large sellers 303. The small buyers and the small sellers play minor roles in this environment and often communicate with each other directly, as illustrated by connection 313.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention the technical solution 305 communicates with all entities within the environment while at the same time respecting the protocols and preferences of the relationships made by the agencies 314.

An alternative representation of the environment illustrated in Figure 3 is shown in Figure 4. In this example, the technical sale/auction platform communicates with a plurality of advertisers, identified as advertisers 401, 402 and 403; although it will be appreciated that in the preferred environment substantially more advertisers will be included.

Similarly, the technical platform 305 communicates with a plurality of media outlets, illustrated as outlets 421, 422 and 423. These media outlets may include the national newspapers, national periodicals and other environments for the placement of advertisements. It should also be appreciated that the environment is not exclusively directed towards published advertisements and the techniques deployed herein may be used in other environments. Thus, for example, a similar approach may be adopted for the advertising of performance related advertisements shown on cinema, television and radio etc. The technical platform 305 is shown in Figure 5. The platform includes a network server 501 and a processing engine 502 for the manipulation of data, the display of data to users and the reporting of data for internal management purposes.

Processing engine 502 communicates with a database of data 503 and performs functions upon this data in response to program instructions received from program storage 504.

The structure of data 503 is illustrated in Figure 6, this includes item definitions 601, item demographics 602 and auction definitions 603.

An example of an item definition 601 is shown in Figure 7. In this data file, a field 701 is reserved for specifying the size of the advertisement. In addition, a field 702 specifies a minimum price (such as the ratecard price) and a field 703 identifies the maximum number of placements that would occur in the publication along with the minimum number of placements that would occur in a publication. From this, it can be seen that a plurality of placements may be included represent individual elements or instantiations of the item.

Each of these elements is similar but not identical. Thus it is possible to develop a ranking in terms of their perceived value. From this point, it is then possible, embodying an aspect of the invention, to allocate elements to bidders based on this perceived ranking and based on the perceived value of the elements in this way, the bidder bidding the lowest discount or highest premium is allocated the element having the highest perceived value.

An example of a item demographic file 602 is illustrated in Figure 8. The item demographic file 602 includes fields 801 identifying aifributes of the target audience. In addition, the item demographic file 602 also includes fields 802 relating to the volume achieved for a particular publication or similar advertising environment. Thus, in adio advertising for example, the volume figure would relate to the number of impressions that occur, that is to say the number of times the audio advertisement is broadcast. Similarly, paper publications would identify volume in terms of their circulation figures. Other advertising opportunities, such as display boards at exhibitions for example would identify volume with respect to the rate of flow of people passing a particular stand of the exhibition An example of an auction definition file is illustrated in Figure 9.

At 901 the file defines the positions available for the advertisements in the auction. At 902 a description is made of the particular type of advertisement space available. At 903 the standard rate or ratecard figure is recorded and at 904 a current discount figure is recorded. At 905 a value for the next bid discount is recorded such that, during the auction process, fields 904 and 905 will be updated. At 906 a sale start date is identified, representing the first date during which it is possible to purchase advertising space, usually at standard ratecard rate. Thus, when advertising space is purchased in this way, the opportunity is removed from the subsequent auction.

At 907 an auction start date is recorded and at 908 an auction end date is recorded From the above, it can be appreciated that the advertising space may be acquired in one of two ways. Firstly, a straightforward sale may take place at a rate agreeable to both parties. However, if a sale does not take place within the allocated time, it is then possible for the advertising space to be entered in the auction.

The timing of these different phases of transactions is illustrated in Figure 10. At time 1001 sale phase 1005 is initiated, as defined by the sale start date 906. At time 1003 an auction phase 1007 is initiated as defined by the auction start date 907. Similarly, at time 1004 the auction ends, as defined

by the auction end field 908.

Between the sale phase 1005 and the auction phase 1007 there is a transition phase 1006. The primary purpose of the transition phase is to ensure that bidders are aware of accurate information concerning which opportunities are actually in the auction before a bid is finalised and a contract is established. Thus, during the sale phase 1005 it is possible for bids to be taken but these are merely invitations and do not represent the establishment of a contract. Similarly, sellers may introduce items and remove items for whatever reason; usually because a sale has been made via some other transaction mechanism.

After time 1002 it is not possible for a seller to remove any further items and all items included at this stage are included in the auction. The seller is therefore committed during the transition phase 1006 but the buyer is not committed. After time 1003 the auction phase 1007 is initiated and during this period both the seller and the buyer are committed. This, if a buyer commits to buying a particular item, he must then conclude the transaction if elements are available. The particular element that is bought will depend upon the ranking and these rankings move in response to bids during the auction phase 1007.

Procedures performed by the processing environment during auction phase 1007 are illustrated in Figure 11. In practice, these procedures may be implemented on a network server that has data processing apparatus, a data storage device and a communicating device for communicating with network-connected clients. The data storage device stores data (as illustrated in Figure 6) for auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item but are substantially mutually exchangeable and that are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value. In the embodiment being described herein the item is an advertisement of a particular size in a particular newspaper on a particular day and the elements represent similar opportunities to advertise within the same newspaper. Thus, each of these elements within the newspaper will include an allocated standard price.

The communicating device transmits data that facilitates the display at a client terminal of information relating to active auctions and the communicating device receives bids from clients that specify a proposed price modifier such as a discount and not an actual price. The data processing apparatus is configured to arrange the elements in the list of perceived value, process the standard price in combination with the received price modifier and produce an actual price. As the auction progresses, offers are ranked with respect to the received price modifiers such that bidders that bid the more attractive price modifier are allocated the more highly ranked elements.

Upon initiating a session a client communicates with the network server.

At step 1101 media selection is made. At step 1102 item selection is made thereby identifying a particular ordered element set of an item type.

At step 1103 the client enters the live auction and places a bid. The client may stay in the auction for a period of time although it is more likely that further interactions for different auctions will be required. Thus, at step 1104 a question is asked as to whether other items are to be selected and when answered in the affirmative further selection takes place at step 1102. When complete, the question asked at step 1004 is answered in the negative and the session terminates.

Procedures 1101 are detailed in Figure 12 At step 1201 a user forms a login operation by identifying a user ID and a password. At step 1202 the user's agency (assuming the user is a member of an agency) is identified.

At step 1203 the user identifies their particular client (ie the advertiser) for the particular campaign under consideration. An edit function 1204 is also provided allowing the user to define new clients which then, preferably, are selected by means of a dropdown box.

Similarly, at step 1205 a brand selection is made and again it is possible for new brands to be identified (or deleted) via an edit function 1206.

Having selected the brand at step 1205, the campaign is identified at step 1207 and again it is possible for new campaigns to be specified via an edit function 1208.

At step 1209 a media type is selected, such as newspapers, magazines, television or radio etc. At this point, it may be possible for the system to check whether the user under consideration has been given authority to purchase advertising space for the particular media type of interest. Thus, some users may be restricted to, say, newspaper advertising while others are restricted to radio advertising for example.

Thereafter, at step 1210 the particular publication of interest is selected.

Thus, for example, having selected newspapers at step 1209 a particular publication is selected at step 1210.

Procedures 1102 for specific item selection are detailed in Figure 13.

Having selected a particular publication at step 1210 many auctions may have been established or defined that relate to that particular publication. It is therefore likely that the user will wish to make a more refined selection which can be achieved in accordance with the procedures 1102 via a filtering process. Thus, at step 1301 it is possible for a user to specify an advertisement size. For illustrative purposes, examples of advertisement sizes are shown, in which 1311 represents a three quarter page ad, 1312 represents a half page ad and 1313 represents a quarter page ad. However, it should be emphasised that the ad types shown in Figure 13 are not exclusive. Thus, having specified a size a filtering operation is performed at step 1302 thereby refining the advertising auctions that may be selected.

At step 1303 a question is asked as to whether colour is to be specified.

In this example, it is possible to specify full colour 1314, a two spot colour 1315 or black and white 1316. Again, having made a selection a filtering operation is performed at step 1304.

The invention is directed towards auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item. The nature of the similarity will depend upon the nature of the items and also the preferences of the seller. For example, in this advertising space example, items of differing size (such as a quarter page and a half page) may be considered as similar items and may be auctioned together. Similarly, black and white items may be mixed with coloured items such that individual elements may be more similar or less similar; a situation which may be considered as the granularity of the similarity.

At step 1305 it is possible to specify dates and in the example shown a selection has been made to the effect that the client is interested in the fifteenth and sixteenth of June. Thus, again, having made this selection a filtering operation is performed at step 1306.

Thus, the network server, a communication device has received information from a user allowing a selection to be made, primarily by the execution of functions 1101 and 1102, read from function store 504. Having made this selection, the network server is now in a position to transmit data that facilitates the display at a client terminal of information relating to the active auctions.

A client terminal display 1401 is shown in Figure 14. Having invoked the procedures 1101 and 1102, a table 1402 of relevant auctions is displayed to the client. In the table, column 1403 identifies a publication date and, as selected, publication dates for the fifteenth and sixteenth of June are displayed.

Column 1404 identifies an auction date, this representing time 1003 when the auction phase will be initiated. In this example auctions will start on Friday the twelfth for publication on Monday the fifteenth and Saturday the thirteenth for publication on Tuesday the sixteenth Column 1405 defines the size of the advertisement. In this example, a quarter page advertisement is available, half page, a further quarter page, a banner and further quarter page.

Column 1406 identifies the current auction discount which would need to be matched or improved in order to be entered into the auction. Thus, in the example shown, entries are showing discounts of fifteen percent (the first two), twelve percent, five percent and two percent.

Column 1407 identifies the likely position of the advertisement in the publication. Preferably, this information should be as accurate as possible given that, in this particular embodiment, position will have a substantial influence upon perceived value. Thus, examples are shown for the position as being at the front top of the publication, the back bottom, inside back and so on.

Column 1408 identifies the net cost. Thus, this represents the cost of the advertisement before the auction discount has been applied. However, it should be noted that discounts may have been offered for other reasons (such as for particular buyers or for receiving early commitments) and these other reason discounts are not taken into account when displaying the net cost figure in column 1408.

In column 1409 a check box is displayed as an invitation to join a particular auction. Thus, in response to checking a box in column box 1409 a selection has been made to the effect that the client wishes to enter the auction, thereby invoking procedures 1103.

Procedures 1103 for entering the auction are detailed in Figure 15. At step 1501 it is noted that a request has been received from a user, resulting in the recording of the user ID (identifying the buyer), an auction ID, as a result of a box in column 1409 being checked (each auction having its own unique ID number) and bid price. Thus, in response to a box being checked, the user is invited to make a bid which, in this embodiment, takes the form of a percentage discount off ratecard.

Having received an identification of the user, identification of the auction and a bid at step 1501 a question is asked at step 1502 as to whether the user is allowed to bid. In this respect a check is made as to whether the auction is available to that particular buyer and as to whether the bid that has been proposed is consistent with any pre-established ground rules.

At step 1503 a question is asked as to whether the auction is live.

Thereafter, if answered in the affirmative a question is asked at step 1504 as to whether the bid is valid. If any of the questions asked at steps 1502 to 1504 are answered in the negative, an appropriate error message is returned at step 1507.

In response to a valid bid being made (the question asked at step 1504 being answered in the affirmative) elements of the auction item are updated at step 1505. This results in the generation of a bidding table and information from the bidding table is communicated to the user for display, as shown at step 1506.

A user display of the type generated at step 1506 is shown in Figure 16.

In the displayed screen, an area 1601 shows information about the user, primarily being the information specified by the user during process 1101, such that the user's client, brand, campaign and media type are displayable.

At region 1602 details relating to the item under consideration are displayed. Primarily, this would include information derived from process 1102, identifying the size of the advertisement, the colour of the advertisement and the dates on which the advertisement is to appear in a particular pubhcation.

A table 1603 identifies the specific elements in the form of an ordered element set for the item under consideration. Column 1604 shows the ordering of the elements. Thus, although all the elements aresubstantially similar and all fall within the definition of the item details 1602, it is possible for the elements to be ranked in terms of their perceived value. Thus, six elements of the item exist ranked from best to sixth.

Column 1605 identifies the status of the elements. With the entry left blank, a user knows that an element is in the auction and it is possible for a user to bid for that element. If the element has been removed from the auction, usually during sale phase 1005, its existence in the list is still maintained but its status is identified as NFA or some similar attribute thereby denoting that the element is not for auction.

Column 1606 identifies the current discount figures. In this specific example, the best element and the third best element are not for auction therefore no current discount figure is present. The second best position has been allocated to a bidder bidding a four percent discount. Similarly the fourth best position is currently at a ten percent discount, the fifth is at a fourteen percent discount and the sixth is at a sixteen percent discount The next best bid was made at fifty percent but no further elements exist so a status has been recorded as outbid.

Column 1607 identifies the cost of the element, before the discount has been applied. Thus, the second best entry is identified as having a cost of twelve thousand dollars while the sixth best entry is identified as having a cost of eight thousand dollars. However, the actual cost for the second entry will be twelve thousand dollars less four percent and the sixth best entry will attract a cost of eight thousand dollars less sixteen percent. Thus, the auctioning process effectively emphasises the perceived differences in value in that bidders bidding the lowest discounts will tend to attract the more highly priced entries. It is therefore possible for an initial assessment of perceived value to be self correcting as the auction process takes place. If the initial perceived value has been calculated correctly then the spread of discounts will tend to be small as each element may be considered as having substantially equal value.

However, if the perceived values have been calculated incorrectly the spread of discounts will tend to increase as only the high value entries will be seen as desirable and other entries will only become attractive if a significant discount can be achieved.

Column 1608 illustrates the amount of discount which must be bid in order to displace the current discount level.

The embodiment described above relates to advertising in newspapers but it should be appreciated that this extends to other advertising opportunities.

It should also be appreciated that the approach may be adopted in other commercial situations. In this example, the price modifier is a percentage discount but other prices modifiers could be selected. Bidding could be achieved with respect to a flat discount and in other environments it may be more appropriate to bid up beyond a staring floor as distinct from bidding towards a notional ceiling. It is also possible that some of the entries could be bid for at a price higher than the standard rate while others are bid for at a price lower than the standard rate.

In a preferred embodiment, a pre-auction period is defined such as the sale phase 1005 during which elements may be sold at an agreed price prior to the auction taking place. In many environments, this may represent the current approach to selling elements of this type such that the auction phase is then entered when the usual techniques and approaches have been exhausted, Ideally, from the seller's perspective, all of the available advertising opportunities are sold, whether through the sale phase or through the auction phase.

Preferably, an interim period (the transition phase) is provided between the pre-auction sale phase and the auction phase, during which a bidder may remove a bid but during which an element cannot be pre-sold.

In a preferred embodiment, it is possible for further discounts to be offered for other reasons. Thus, for example, it is possible for those who make bids early to be offered an additional discount. In the preferred embodiment, this additional discount is not taken into account when ranking bids during the auction phase.

Claims (21)

  1. Claims 1. A method of auctioning elements that represent similar
    examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value, comprising the steps of: arranging said elements in a list of perceived value; allocating a standard price for each of said elements; processing said standard price in combination with a price modifier to produce an actual price that may by higher than, lower than or the same as said standard price; inviting bidders to bid with a proposed price modifier (not an actual price), and ranking said price modifiers such that the bidders that bid the more attractive price modifiers are allocated the more highly ranked elements.
  2. 2. A method according to claim 1, wherein said item is an advertisement opportunity and said elements represent multiple expressions of said advertisement opportunity.
  3. 3. A method according to claim 2, wherein said advertisement opportunity is an opportunity to advertise in a publication.
  4. 4. A method according to claim 3, wherein said elements represent similar advertising opportunities in the same publication.
  5. 5. A method according to claim 4, in which said advertising opportunities are similar because they represent advertising opportunities of the same size at different positions within the publication; said different positions having different perceived values.
  6. 6. A method according to claim 1, wherein said elements represent advertising opportunities in newspapers and the cost for different advertising types and positions is defined in a published ratecard, wherein said ratecard values are used to define said standard price.
  7. 7. A method according to claim 1, wherein said price modifier is a percentage discount and said processing step produces said actual price by subtracting said percentage discount from said standard price.
  8. 8. A method according to claim 7, wherein bids are made in terms of a percentage discount and bidders submitting lower percentage discounts are placed higher up said ranking.
  9. 9. A method according to claim 1, wherein a pre-auction period is defined during which elements may be sold at an agreed price and thereby are removed from a subsequent auction.
  10. 10. A method according to claim 9, wherein bids may be placed during said pre-auction period that, if successful, they that attract an early-bid discount on completion of the auction.
  11. 11. A method according to claim 10, including an interim period between said pie-auction period and said auction period during which a bidder may remove a bid but during which an element cannot be pre-sold.
  12. 12. A method according to claim 10, in which bids are made in terms of a percentage discounts and bidders submitting lower percentage discounts are placed higher up said ranking, wherein said early bid discount is not taken into account when ranking bids with respect to submitted discount figures.
  13. 13. Computer-readable instructions executable on a computer system such that wherein executing said instructions said computer will perform the steps of arranging said elements in a list of perceived value; allocating a standard price for each of said elements; processing said standard price in combination with a price modifier to produce an actual price that may by higher than, lower than or the same as said standard price; inviting bidders to bid with a proposed price modifier (not an actual price); and ranking said price modifiers such that the bidders that bid the more attractive price modifiers are allocated the more highly ranked elements.
  14. 14. A method according to claim 13, wherein said item is an advertisement opportunity and said elements represent multiple expressions of said advertisement opportunity.
  15. 15. A method according to claim 14, wherein said advertisement opportunity is an opportunity to advertise in a publication.
  16. 16. A method according to claim 15, wherein said elements represent similar advertising opportunities in the same publication.
  17. 17. A method according to claim 16, in which said advertising opportunities are similar because they represent advertising opportunities of the same size at different positions within the publication; said different positions having different perceived values.
  18. 18. A method according to claim 13, wherein said elements represent advertising opportunities in newspapers and the cost for different advertising types and positions is defined in a published ratecard, wherein said ratecard values are used to define said standard price.
  19. 19. A method according to claim 13, wherein said price modifier is a percentage discount and said processing step produces said actual price by subtracting said percentage discount from said standard price.
  20. 20. A network server, comprising data processing apparatus, a data storage device and a communicating device for communicating with network-connected clients, wherein: said data storage device stores data for auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and that are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value, induding an allocated standard price for each of said elements; said communicating device transmits data that facilitates the display at a client terminal information relating to active auctions and said communicating device receives bids from clients that specify a proposed price modifier (such as a discount)and not an actual price; and said data processing apparatus is configured to arrange said elements in a list of perceived value, process said standard price in combination with a received price modifier to produce an actual price, and ranking received price modifiers such that bidders that bid the more attractive price modifies are allocated the more highly ranked elements.
  21. 21. A method of auctioning elements that represent similar examples of an item that are substantially mutually exchangeable and are susceptible to being ranked in order of perceived value, substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying figures
GB0623425A 2006-11-24 2006-11-24 Auctioning items that represent similar examples of an item Withdrawn GB0623425D0 (en)

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Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0623425A GB0623425D0 (en) 2006-11-24 2006-11-24 Auctioning items that represent similar examples of an item
PCT/GB2007/003054 WO2008062150A1 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-10 Automated electronic transactions
US11843116 US20080126241A1 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-22 Auctioning Similar Examples of an Item
US11843137 US20080126242A1 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-22 Automated Auctioning with a Reserve
US11843051 US20080126239A1 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-22 Automated Sales with Varying Discounts
US11843094 US20080126240A1 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-22 Automated Sales with Offer Grouping
US11843022 US7809611B2 (en) 2006-11-24 2007-08-22 Multi-stage automated auctions

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GB2444085A true true GB2444085A (en) 2008-05-28

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2001075740A2 (en) * 2000-03-31 2001-10-11 Directplacement.Com, Inc. System and method for multi-variable auctions
WO2002097582A2 (en) * 2001-05-31 2002-12-05 Ausubel Lawrence M System and method for an auction of multiple types of items
US20050033682A1 (en) * 2003-08-04 2005-02-10 Levy Douglas A. Method for facilitating purchasing of advertising via electronic auction
US20050187859A1 (en) * 1999-10-12 2005-08-25 Kevin Growney Online auction method and system facilitating the sale of multiple product units at prices varying with volume

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US20050187859A1 (en) * 1999-10-12 2005-08-25 Kevin Growney Online auction method and system facilitating the sale of multiple product units at prices varying with volume
WO2001075740A2 (en) * 2000-03-31 2001-10-11 Directplacement.Com, Inc. System and method for multi-variable auctions
WO2002097582A2 (en) * 2001-05-31 2002-12-05 Ausubel Lawrence M System and method for an auction of multiple types of items
US20050033682A1 (en) * 2003-08-04 2005-02-10 Levy Douglas A. Method for facilitating purchasing of advertising via electronic auction

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