Evolving Viral Marketing Strategies

GECCO 2010, Portland, Oregon, USA, July 7-11, 2010

Robert H. Smith School Research Paper No. RHS 06-133

9 Pages Posted: 21 May 2011  

Forrest Stonedahl

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO)

William M. Rand

University of Maryland

Uri Wilensky

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO)

Date Written: July 2010

Abstract

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 eff ectiveness by simulating adoption on a Bass-like agent-based model, with five diff erent 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 signifi cantly 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

Suggested Citation

Stonedahl, Forrest and Rand, William M. and Wilensky, Uri, Evolving Viral Marketing Strategies (July 2010). GECCO 2010, Portland, Oregon, USA, July 7-11, 2010 ; Robert H. Smith School Research Paper No. RHS 06-133. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1846505

Forrest Stonedahl

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO) ( email )

Chambers Hall
600 Foster Street
Evanston, IL 60208-4057
United States

William M. Rand (Contact Author)

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Uri Wilensky

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO) ( email )

Chambers Hall
600 Foster Street
Evanston, IL 60208-4057
United States

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