Advertising to Early Trend Propagators: Evidence from Twitter


In the new digital economy, influencing and controlling the spread of information is a key concern for firms. One potential way to achieve this is to target firm communications to consumers who embrace and propagate the spread of new information on emerging and trending topics. 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. Every day, Twitter identifies which topics are newly popular among Twitter users. In the field tests, a charity and a fashion firm targeted ads at consumers who embraced a Twitter trend early on in its life-cycle by posting about it, and compared their behavior to that of consumers who only started talking about the same topic later on. Throughout both field tests, we consistently find that individuals who started talking about new and trending topics early are less responsive to advertising than consumers who embraced trends later, suggesting that it may be difficult to commercially exploit emerging topics online through advertising.

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@inproceedings{Lambrecht2015AdvertisingTE, title={Advertising to Early Trend Propagators: Evidence from Twitter}, author={Anja Lambrecht and Catherine Tucker and Caroline Wiertz and Haemi Shin and Vaidheesh Venkatram and Andrew P. Leung and Amit Bhattacharjee and Avi Goldfarb}, year={2015} }