[Dmbu-l] PhD Oral Exam - Giorgos Zervas - Tuesday 11/9 @ 2PM (fwd)

Evimaria Terzi evimaria at cs.bu.edu
Fri Nov 5 00:29:41 EDT 2010

I suggest that this Tues we attend the oral exam of George Zervas, which 
also coincides with the time of our seminar.

All the best,

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler"
(A. Einstein)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2010 16:00:05 -0400
From: John Byers <byers at cs.bu.edu>
To:  <cs-faculty at cs.bu.edu>,  <cs-grads at cs.bu.edu>
Subject: PhD Oral Exam - Giorgos Zervas - Tuesday 11/9 @ 2PM

PhD Oral Area Exam

When: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 @ 2PM
Where: MCS-135


Sponsored Search Auctions: How Advertising is Bought and Sold Online

Giorgos Zervas


Sponsored search auctions have emerged as the de-facto way of selling online
advertising. Much of their appeal stems from the effectiveness with which they
allow advertisers to capture interested audiences. One is reminded of John
Wanamaker's famous quote on old-school-media advertising:

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know
which half."

Sponsored search auctions allow advertisers much finer-grained control over
their campaigns resulting in much greater efficiency. Advertisers find it
appealing not only that they are charged solely when a user clicks on their
ads, but furthermore that the user has previously indicated interest in their
offerings by performing a related search query. It is arguably no longer the
case that half their ad spend goes wasted. Naturally, the proportion of
advertising dollars allocated to online advertising is constantly growing with
the absolute size of the market currently reaching into the tens of billions of

This growth is also reflected on the intense inter-disciplinary focus on second
price auctions, primarily by computer scientists and economists. Even though
the borderline is blurry the subject has received a mainly algorithmic
treatment from the former group and a game-theoretic treatment from the latter.
In fact computational advertising, as the field has come to be known, has been
one main thrust behind the development of the nascent discipline of
algorithmic game theory which combines the best ideas from algorithms and game
theory to study a variety of problems relating to the Internet.

The sponsored search ecosystem consists of three parties: the auctioneer,
usually a search engine, the advertisers and the users. Each party is
interested in maximizing its welfare often at the cost of others. In this talk
we examine properties of this ecosystem affecting the welfare of its
inhabitants from all three perspectives. For example the auctioneer is
interested in such properties of the system as its incentive compatibility and
revenue potential. The advertisers are interested in optimizing their bidding
strategies to maximize their profits. And the users are interested in viewing
ads related to their interests or even, in certain cases, getting better deals
through offers they discover via this channel. We aim to provide the audience
with a good grasp of the system's complex dynamics by highlighting key works
spanning the years since the introduction of the sponsored search auction.


Examination Committee:

Azer Bestavros
John Byers (Adviser)
Evimaria Terzi

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