Cross-Platform Spillover Effects in Consumption of Viral Content: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis Using Synthetic Controls

50 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017 Last revised: 17 Jul 2019

See all articles by Haris Krijestorac

Haris Krijestorac

University of Texas at Austin, Red McCombs School of Business, Students

Rajiv Garg

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management

Vijay Mahajan

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management

Date Written: July 15, 2019

Abstract

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 resistance to advertising, firms often seek to promote their own viral content to boost brand awareness. However, a key shortcoming of virality is its ephemeral nature. To gain insight into sustaining virality, we develop a quasi-experimental approach that estimates the backward spillover onto a focal platform by introducing a piece of content onto a new platform. We posit that introducing content to the audience of a new platform can generate word-of-mouth (WOM), which may affect its consumption within an earlier platform. We estimate these spillovers using data on 381 viral videos on 26 platforms (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo), and observe how consumption of videos on an initial “lead” platform is affected by their subsequent introduction onto “lag” platforms. This spillover is estimated as follows: for each multi-platform video, we compare its view growth after being introduced onto a new platform to that of a synthetic control based on similar single-platform videos. Analysis of 275 such spillover scenarios reveals that introducing a video onto a lag platform roughly doubles its subsequent view growth in the lead platform. This positive cross-platform spillover is persistent, bursty, and strongest in the first 42 days. We find that spillover is boosted when the video is consumed more in the lag platform, when the consumption rate peaks earlier in the lag platform, and when the lag platform targets a foreign market. Delaying a video’s introduction onto a lag platform affects spillover concavely, while its introduction onto additional platforms shows diminishing returns. We find further support for positive spillover through a small-scale randomized field experiment. Implications are discussed for platforms, content creators, and policy makers.

Keywords: spillover effect, quasi-experiments, synthetic control, information diffusion, viral marketing

Suggested Citation

Krijestorac, Haris and Garg, Rajiv and Mahajan, Vijay, Cross-Platform Spillover Effects in Consumption of Viral Content: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis Using Synthetic Controls (July 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3011533 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3011533

Haris Krijestorac (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin, Red McCombs School of Business, Students ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

Rajiv Garg

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management ( email )

CBA 5.202
Austin, TX 78712
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.RajivGarg.org

Vijay Mahajan

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management ( email )

Red McCombs School of Business
2100 Speedway, #B6600
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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