| RAND Journal of Economics
Why Do Intermediaries Divert Search?
We analyze the incentives to divert search for an information intermediary who enables buyers (consumers) to search affiliated sellers (stores). We identify two original motives for diverting search (i.e., inducing consumers to search more than they would like): 1) trading off higher total consumer traffic for higher revenues per consumer visit and 2) influencing stores' choices of strategic variables (e.g., pricing). We characterize the conditions under which there would be no role for search diversion as a strategic instrument for the intermediary, thereby showing that it occurs even when the contracting space is significantly enriched. We then discuss several applications related to online and brick-and-mortar intermediaries.
Keywords: market intermediation;
Demand and Consumers;
Motivation and Incentives;