Cross-Platform Spillover Effects in Consumption of Viral Content: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis Using Synthetic Controls
40 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017 Last revised: 5 Dec 2018
Date Written: July 31, 2017
To inform product release and distribution strategies, research has analyzed cross-market spillovers in new product adoption. However, models that examine these effects for digital and viral media are still evolving. Given increasing resistance to advertising, many of today’s firms seek to promote their own viral content to generate brand awareness. Unfortunately, a key shortcoming of virality is its ephemeral nature. To gain insight into sustaining the popularity of viral content, we develop a quasi-experimental model that estimates the spillover created by introducing a piece of content onto a new platform on its consumption in a focal platform. We propose that by introducing their content to the audience of a new platform, firms can generate additional word-of-mouth (WOM), which may affect consumption within an initial platform. We estimate our model using data on 381 viral videos viewed on 26 platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo), and we observe how consumption of videos on an initial “lead” platform is affected by their subsequent introduction onto “lag” platforms. This backward spillover is estimated as follows: for each multi-platform video, we compare its view growth after being added to a new platform to that of a synthetic control based on similar single-platform videos. Analysis of 289 such spillovers reveals that cross-platform spillover is positive, persistent, bursty, and strongest in the first 48 days. We also find that spillover is stronger for larger platforms, foreign platforms, and platforms that achieve peak WOM more quickly. Delaying a video’s introduction onto a lag platform affects spillover concavely, while its introduction onto additional lag platforms shows diminishing returns. Implications are discussed for platforms and marketers.
Keywords: spillover effect, quasi-experiments, synthetic control, information diffusion, viral marketing
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