Kyle Bagwell and Garey Ramey

Advertising as Information: Matching Products to Buyers

We consider communication of quality via cheap talk and dissipative advertising expenditures, when consumers have heterogeneous tastes for quality, and price information must be acquired through costly search. For search pods, cheap talk communicates quality when fixed costs are roughly constant across quality levels, while if fixed costs vary greatly with quality, then firms having the higher fixed-cost quality level use dissipative advertising. For experience goods, quality can be communicated by cheap talk in a range where low-quality firms have greater fixed costs, and low-quality firms use dissipative advertising if their fixed costs are greater still.