A Price-per-Attention Auction Scheme using Mouse Cursor Information

Authors: Ioannis Arapakis, Antonio Penta, Hideo Joho and Luis A. Leiva

ACM Transactions on Information Systems, Vol. 38, No 2, January, 2020

Payments in online ad auctions are typically derived from click-through rates, so that advertisers do not pay for ineffective ads. But advertisers often care about more than just clicks. That is, for example, if they aim to raise brand awareness or visibility. There is thus an opportunity to devise a more effective ad pricing paradigm, in which ads are paid only if they are actually noticed. This article contributes a novel auction format based on a pay-per-attention (PPA) scheme. We show that the PPA auction inherits the desirable properties (strategy-proofness and efficiency) as its pay-per-impression and pay-per-click counterparts, and that it also compares favourably in terms of revenues. To make the PPA format feasible, we also contribute a scalable diagnostic technology to predict user attention to ads in sponsored search using raw mouse cursor coordinates only, regardless of the page content and structure. We use the user attention predictions in numerical simulations to evaluate the PPA auction scheme. Our results show that, in relevant economic settings, the PPA revenues would be strictly higher than the existing auction payment schemes.