About the Game


Internet advertising provides a substantial source of revenue for online publishers, amounting to billions of dollars annually. Sponsored search is a popular form of targeted advertising, in which query-specific advertisements are placed alongside organic search-engine results.
In popular search engines, the placement (position) of an ad for a given query, along with
the cost (to the advertiser) per click (CPC), is determined through an auction process.
Advertisers wishing to place their ads on relevant searchers must strategically decide which keywords to bid on, and what CPC prices to offer.

The TAC Ad Auction (TAC/AA) game presents a realistic sponsored search environment for a simulated advertising scenario.
Advertisers represent retailers in a simplified home entertainment market, bidding to place ads before users searching on product keywords.
Game entrants design and implement bidding strategies for the advertisers, while behaviors of the search engine and users are simulated by the server.
The TAC/AA tournament pits advertiser agent strategies against each other, evaluating each in terms of sales profit net of advertising costs.

Our hope is that by tackling this challenging problem competitively, researchers and practitioners participating in TAC/AA will produce new ideas about bidding strategy for advertising (and in general), as well as insights about sponsored-search mechanisms and ways to improve the model.

The full specification is available here.

Overviews of Key Elements