Evolving Viral Marketing Strategies
GECCO 2010, Portland, Oregon, USA, July 7-11, 2010
9 Pages Posted: 21 May 2011
Date Written: July 2010
One method of viral marketing involves seeding certain consumers within a population to encourage faster adoption of the product throughout the entire population. However, determining how many and which consumers within a particular social network should be seeded to maximize adoption is challenging. We define a strategy space for consumer seeding by weighting a combination of network characteristics such as average path length, clustering co-efficient, and degree. We measure strategy effectiveness by simulating adoption on a Bass-like agent-based model, with five different social network structures: four classic theoretical models (random, lattice, small-world, and preferential attachment) and one empirical (extracted from Twitter friendship data). To discover good seeding strategies, we have developed a new tool, called BehaviorSearch, which uses genetic algorithms to search through the parameter-space of agent-based models. This volutionary search also provides insight into the interaction between strategies and network structure. Our results show that one simple strategy (ranking by node degree) is near-optimal for the four theoretical networks, but that a more nuanced strategy performs significantly better on the empirical Twitter-based network. We also find a correlation between the optimal seeding budget for a network, and the inequality of the degree distribution.
Keywords: viral marketing, agent-based modeling, diffusion, social networks, marketing, genetic algorithms, management, simulation
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