On the Pricing of Recommendations and Recommending Strategically [article]

Paul Dütting, Monika Henzinger, Ingmar Weber
2009 arXiv   pre-print
If you recommend a product to me and I buy it, how much should you be paid by the seller? And if your sole interest is to maximize the amount paid to you by the seller for a sequence of recommendations, how should you recommend optimally if I become more inclined to ignore you with each irrelevant recommendation you make? Finding an answer to these questions is a key challenge in all forms of marketing that rely on and explore social ties; ranging from personal recommendations to viral
more » ... . In the first part of this paper, we show that there can be no pricing mechanism that is "truthful" with respect to the seller, and we use solution concepts from coalitional game theory, namely the Core, the Shapley Value, and the Nash Bargaining Solution, to derive provably "fair" prices for settings with one or multiple recommenders. We then investigate pricing mechanisms for the setting where recommenders have different "purchase arguments". Here we show that it might be beneficial for the recommenders to withhold some of their arguments, unless anonymity-proof solution concepts, such as the anonymity-proof Shapley value, are used. In the second part of this paper, we analyze the setting where the recommendee loses trust in the recommender for each irrelevant recommendation. Here we prove that even if the recommendee regains her initial trust on each successful recommendation, the expected total profit the recommender can make over an infinite period is bounded. This can only be overcome when the recommendee also incrementally regains trust during periods without any recommendation. Here, we see an interesting connection to "banner blindness", suggesting that showing fewer ads can lead to a higher long-term profit.
arXiv:0911.1619v1 fatcat:hsrupcsxmzg5pnzivsgs6hip5i