We develop a model of data pricing and targeted advertising. A monopolistic data provider determines the price to access “cookies,” i.e., informative signals about individual consumers’ preferences. The demand for information is generated by advertisers who seek to tailor their spending to the value of each consumer. We characterize the set of consumers targeted by the advertisers and the optimal monopoly price of cookies. The ability to influence the composition of the set of targeted consumers provides incentives to lower prices. Thus, the monopoly price of data is decreasing in the reach of the database and increasing in the number of competing sellers of exclusive data. Finally, we explore the implications of nonlinear pricing of information and characterize the exclusive data sales that emerge as part of the optimal mechanism.
Bergemann, Dirk and Bonatti, Alessandro, "Selling Cookies" (2013). Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers. 2308.