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Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs

Monic Sun

Boston University

Feng Zhu

Harvard University - Harvard Business School

May 25, 2012

Many scholars argue that when incentivized by ad revenue, content providers are more likely to tailor their content to attract "eyeballs," and as a result, popular content may be excessively supplied. We empirically test this prediction by taking advantage of the launch of an ad-revenue-sharing program initiated by a major Chinese portal site in September 2007. Participating bloggers allow the site to run ads on their blogs and receive 50% of the revenue generated by these ads. After analyzing 4.4 million blog posts, we find that, relative to nonparticipants, popular content increases by about 13 percentage points on participants' blogs after the program takes effect. About 50% of this increase can be attributed to topics shifting toward three domains: the stock market, salacious content, and celebrities. Meanwhile, relative to nonparticipants, participants' content quality increases after the program takes effect. We also find that the program effects are more pronounced for participants with moderately popular blogs, and seem to persist after participants enroll in the program.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Keywords: ad-sponsored business model, media content, blog, revenue-sharing, user-generated content

JEL Classification: L19, M37, Z10

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Date posted: January 7, 2011 ; Last revised: July 16, 2015

Suggested Citation

Sun, Monic and Zhu, Feng, Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs (May 25, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1735696 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1735696

Contact Information

Monic Sun (Contact Author)
Boston University ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
(617) 353 9640 (Phone)
(617) 353 5244 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://smgapps.bu.edu/mgmt_new/profiles/SunMonic.html
Feng Zhu
Harvard University - Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 431
Boston, MA 02163
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=14938
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