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Comparing or contrasting statistics from auctions can be fun. One auctioneer had a live auction with 450 bidders and 1,126 lots sold. Another auctioneer had an online auction with 450 bidders, 1,126 lots sold, 29 bids per lot, 26,743 views of the auction prior and 395 of those 450 bidders (87.8%) placing bids.

We know far more about this online auction than this antiquated live auction, right? Maybe. Did you know that the 286 of the 450 bidders at the live auction were wearing hats? You say, “So what … what’s that got to do with it?” Exactly, so what’s the bids per lot, views, or percentage placing bids have to do with it?

We previously wrote about the 2011 Florida Citrus Bowl pitting Notre Dame against Florida State. Apparently, the NCAA is considering revising the result of this game (18-14 in favor of Florida State) because more Notre Dame fans viewed the game. Clearly more views means Notre Dame won because in addition to more fans watching, they ran more plays, had more first downs and had had more 3rd-down conversions.

Here’s our previous writings about number of views, number of bids per lot and percentage placing bids:

There is one single measure — statistic — that matters: Net to seller. This “net” can be the most money, or otherwise solving the problem or meeting a goal such as getting the house cleaned out by a certain date and/or allowing people to just move on … 100,000 views or 36 bids per lot means nothing if the seller’s problem isn’t solved or goals are not met.

Our personal experience of nearly 40 years has told us other things. It’s not the total number of bidders, but the right bidders. A $175,000 coin auction we conducted several years ago only had 15 bidders — impressing our seller so much his daughter consigned over $50,000 in coins for our next auction. The other day we conducted a $10,000 auction with nearly 200 bidders … with only 21% wearing hats.

Countless auctioneers (including me) have said “the more bidders, the more chance of the right bidders.” The operative word here is “chance” as there is no guarantee for any number of bidders, views or clicks that the right people (bidders) are participating. If an auctioneer/seller has the right bidders, nothing else really matters.

We wrote about this chance of having the two most important bidders and calculated there’s no practical way to get to 100%: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/auctioneer-looking-for-alpha-and-beta/. In fact, auctioneers should carefully calculate the cost of that one additional bidder in regard to the increase in seller net benefit.

More bidders do sometimes make all bidders bid more as we discussed here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/large-auction-crowds-busy-restaurants-and-relevance/. However, we were kidding about the NCAA revisiting the 2011 Florida Citrus Bowl — because you see it’s not the number of viewers, plays, first downs, 3rd-down conversions or anything else. It’s the total points scored at the end of the game …

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.