Advertising to Early Trend Propagators: Evidence from Twitter
65 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2014 Last revised: 29 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 28, 2017
In the digital economy, influencing and controlling the spread of information is a key concern for firms. One way firms try to achieve this is to target firm communications to consumers who embrace and propagate the spread of new information on emerging and `trending' topics on social media. However, little is known about whether early trend propagators are indeed responsive to firm-sponsored messages. To explore whether early propagators of trending topics respond to advertising messages, we use data from two field tests conducted by a charity and an emerging fashion firm on the micro-blogging service Twitter. On Twitter, 'promoted tweets' allow advertisers to target individuals based on the content of their recent postings. Twitter continuously identifies in real time which topics are newly popular among Twitter users. In the field tests, we collaborated with a charity and a fashion firm to target ads at consumers who embraced a Twitter trend early in its life-cycle by posting about it, and compared their behavior to that of consumers who posted about the same topic only later on. Throughout both field tests, we consistently find that early propagators of trends are less responsive to advertising than consumers who embrace trends later.
Keywords: Online Advertising, Targeting, Twitter, User-Generated Content, Internet, Reactance
JEL Classification: M3, M31, M37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation