Social Advertising Effectiveness Across Products: A Large-Scale Field Experiment

Marketing Science, forthcoming

61 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 23 Oct 2022

See all articles by Shan Huang

Shan Huang

The University of Hong Kong

Sinan Aral

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Yu Jeffrey Hu

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Erik Brynjolfsson

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Stanford

Date Written: May 25, 2020

Abstract

Most of the empirical evidence on social advertising effectiveness focuses on a single product at a time. As a result, little is known about how the effectiveness of social advertising varies across product categories or product characteristics. We therefore collaborated with a large online social network to conduct a randomized field experiment measuring social ads effectiveness across 71 products in 25 categories among more than 37 million users. We found some product categories, like clothing, cars and food exhibited significantly stronger social advertising effectiveness than other categories like financial services, electrical appliances and mobile games. More generally, we found that status goods, which rely on status-driven consumption, displayed strong social advertising effectiveness. Meanwhile social ads for experience goods, which rely on informational social influence, did not perform any better or worse than their theoretical counterpart search goods. Social advertising effectiveness also significantly varied across the relative characteristics of ad viewers and their friends shown in ads. Understanding the heterogeneous effects of social advertising across products can help marketers differentiate their social advertising strategies and lead researchers to more nuanced theories of social influence in product evaluation.

Keywords: social networks; social influence; social advertising; product; heterogeneity; field experiments

Suggested Citation

Huang, Shan and Aral, Sinan and Hu, Yu Jeffrey and Brynjolfsson, Erik, Social Advertising Effectiveness Across Products: A Large-Scale Field Experiment (May 25, 2020). Marketing Science, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3610384

Shan Huang (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Sinan Aral

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Yu Jeffrey Hu

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

Erik Brynjolfsson

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stanford ( email )

366 Galvez St
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://brynjolfsson.com

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