This year marks the third tournament for the Ad Auctions Game (TAC/AA). TAC/AA is an eight-player sponsored search advertising scenario, designed to facilitate research on advertiser bidding strategies and provide a platform for auction design. The objective of a competing advertiser is to maximize its accumulated sales profits net of advertising expense, over the course of a simulated 60-day campaign. Advertisers choose ads to be displayed each campaign day, and corresponding bid prices, for each of 16 distinct but related keyword auctions.
TAC/AA is part of the general 2011 Trading Agent Competition (TAC). TAC 2011 was held in July, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, in conjunction with IJCAI-11 and the workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA-11).
The TAC/AA competition consists of two basic rounds: qualifying and finals. During the qualifying round agents will participate in a round-robin style tournament. Agents pass the qualifying round by meeting a minimal standard for agent competence. The TAC/AA tournament finals consists of multiple stages, with the particular elimination structure to be determined based on the number of entries.
Eleven teams from around the world entered the competition (see table below). Nine agents displayed the minimum standard of competence during a round-robin qualifying stage held in June, thus advanced to the final tournament at the main TAC event in July. The dates for the TAC/AA competition are as follows:
- Qualifying Rounds: 22-23 June [ day 1 and day 2 ]
- Final Rounds: 17 July [ semifinals ] 19 July [ finals ]
|TacTex||The University of Texas at Austin|
|Mertacor||CERTH/ITI, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki|
|PoleCAT||University of Warsaw|
|CrocodileAgent||University of Zagreb|
|tau||Tel Aviv University|
|hermes||University of Macedonia, Greece, Dept. of Applied Informatics|
|AA-HEU||Harbin Engineering University|
|EDAAgent||University of Washington, Tacoma|
The tournament finals are divided into two phases: the semifinal stage and the final stage. During the semifinal stage, one team will be eliminated, leaving eight agents to participate in the final stage. In the final stage agents are ranked by their average profits. The tournament winner is the agent with the largest average profits. This year’s tournament consists of many strong competitors from past tournaments. In particular, TacTex remains undefeated over history of the competition.
The top three most profitable teams from the 2011 tournament are, in order, are TacTex from the University of Texas at Austin, Schlemazl from Brown University, and tau from Tel Aviv University. The full list of scores is given in the table below.
Congratulations to all the teams that competed.
In its short history, numerous papers have been written about TAC/AA:
- Designing the Ad Auctions Game for the Trading Agent Competition
- Strategy and mechanism lessons from the first ad auctions trading agent competition
- TacTex09: A Champion Bidding Agent for Ad Auctions
- A Particle Filter for Bid Estimation in Ad Auctions with Periodic Ranking Observations
- A First Approach to Autonomous Bidding in Ad Auctions
- A new sequential classification to assist Ad auction agent in making decisions
- A Bidding Agent for Advertisement Auctions: An Overview of the CrocodileAgent 2010
- A Knapsack-Based Approach to Bidding in Ad Auctions
- Rank and Impression Estimation in TAC AA
In addition, TAC/AA has garnered some interest in industry:
Thanks to Andrea Zabel for reading drafts of this post.