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Externalities, Social Value and Word of Mouth: Notions of Public Economics on Networks

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  • Pier-Andre Bouchard St-Amant

    ()
    (Queen s University)

Abstract

I examine an environment where advertisers can "seed" word-of-mouth advertising by providing initial information about a product to specific users of a social network. Discussion over a social network generates spillover effects for firms when consumers can use the social network to inform each other about products. When a firm can exploit a social network's structure, it can increase its sales. However, when the network formation process is costly, firms free-ride on such costs at the expense of agents on the network. If agents can form coalitions, I show that they can recoup the value of this externality by charging a toll. When users actively modify the information, generating word-of-mouth advertising about a product provides a "social value." This social value stems from the discussions that agents have about the product, without any intervention. Since this process occurs regardless of the firm's actions, the firm cannot capture such valuation. The opinion leaders, or highly regarded agents on the network, play a key role in the formation of this social value.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1301.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1301

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Keywords: Network; Word of Mouth; Externalities; Social Value;

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  1. Vettas, Nikolaos, 1997. "On the Informational Role of Quantities: Durable Goods and Consumers' Word-of-Mouth Communication," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(4), pages 915-44, November.
  2. Andrea Galeotti & Christian Ghiglino & Francesco Squintani, 2009. "Strategic Information Transmission in Networks," Economics Discussion Papers 668, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  3. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Standardization, Compatibility, and Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 70-83, Spring.
  4. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  5. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
  6. Ting Liu & Pasquale Schiraldi, 2012. "New product launch: herd seeking or herd preventing?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 627-648, November.
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