Sniping or Squatting — What’s Your Online Bidding Strategy?

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You placed your bid early, and you made sure it was high enough to give you some wiggle room for any other bidders who came along. Guess what? You are what’s known as a squatter. In this bidding strategy, slow and steady wins the race. But then at the last second… Boom! Another bidder shows up out of nowhere and shatters your bid, causing you to lose out on that once-in-a-lifetime experience you had been dreaming about and planning on for weeks. Who or what was that?! That, my friends, was a sniper. He’s been lurking and watching, hidden among the cyber weeds and waiting for the perfect moment to go in for the kill.

If you’re a frequent online bidder, you probably fall into one of these two camps—you’re either a sniper or a squatter. Occasionally, behaviors of one or the other may figure more prominently into your bidding strategy. So what exactly are those behaviors?

 

SQUATTING

If you’re a squatter, you know what you want and are determined to get it. Your strategy is slow and methodical. You plant yourself in an auction early and bid when necessary to keep your name alive. You probably have a maximum bid amount past which you’re unwilling to go, so you check the auction page on a regular basis and base your decisions based on the actions of your competition.

In “Sniping and Squatting in Auction Markets,” Jeffrey Ely and Tanjim Hossain of Northwestern University reported that squatting promotes a “competition effect.” On Charitybuzz, though it may be tough on your wallet, you can feel good that competition results in higher funds raised for worthy causes—MS, cancer, animal rights, women’s issues, and more—which we certainly appreciate.

If you click underneath the current bid on the auction page, you can keep track of your competition’s bidding amounts. The bidding window also indicates if there is a reserve amount and whether or not it has been met. With this information in hand, you can plan your squatting strategy to effectively and systematically propel you to the winning bid.

But wait…

 

SNIPING

There’s always the possibility a sniper will come along to wreck your best-laid strategic plans. Snipers are the trolls of online auctions—everybody hates a sniper. While sniping is a valid bidding strategy, and one that works well on other auction sites, it is less effective on Charitybuzz.

We’ve instituted what we call Extended Bidding, the scourge of snipers everywhere. For instance, if someone places a bid during the last 10 minutes of an auction, we extend the close time 10 minutes more from when the last bid was placed. For example, if someone bids at 4:59 for an auction due to close at 5:00, the new auction close time is now 5:09. We’ll keep extending the close time as long as bidders are engaged. This way, competing bidders get a chance to stay in the race, and more money is raised for charity. Win-win for everybody!

 

BID SMARTER

Depending on your personality, there will be pros and cons to sniping and squatting. Whatever your preference, we have some suggestions to help you bid smarter.

  • If there are multiple auctions being conducted for the experience you want, choose one with no bidders and squat.
  • Be aggressive if you squat. Bidding the minimum amount is an ineffective strategy. You’re just inviting competition. Choose instead an amount that is a significant percentage of your maximum bid. This still gives you some wiggle room for your maximum bid at the end of the auction.
  • If there are multiple bidders, you can try sniping the auction. Set up the snipe with your maximum bid and then leave it alone. No one else will see the amount but you. If someone surpasses it, you’ll be notified by email and you can increase the amount. If it happens in the last 10 minutes of the auction, the Extended Bidding also gives you a chance to win the experience.
  • Thirty percent of all activity on Charitybuzz auctions happen in the last 3 hours. So if the experience is important to you, make sure you pay attention to that busy period to give you the best shot at winning.

Win or not, snipe or squat, know that every bid you make helps raise more funds for charities around the globe, providing an even greater impact on important challenges. We thank you!

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