Article | Management Science | October 2013

Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs

by Monic Sun and Feng Zhu

Abstract

Many scholars argue that when incentivized by ad revenue, content providers are more likely to tailor their content to attract "eyeballs," and as a result, popular content may be excessively supplied. We empirically test this prediction by taking advantage of the launch of an ad-revenue-sharing program initiated by a major Chinese portal site in September 2007. Participating bloggers allow the site to run ads on their blogs and receive 50% of the revenue generated by these ads. After analyzing 4.4 million blog posts, we find that, relative to nonparticipants, popular content increases by about 13 percentage points on participants' blogs after the program takes effect. About 50% of this increase can be attributed to topics shifting toward three domains: the stock market, salacious content, and celebrities. Meanwhile, relative to nonparticipants, participants' content quality increases after the program takes effect. We also find that the program effects are more pronounced for participants with moderately popular blogs and seem to persist after participants enroll in the program.

Keywords: ad-sponsored business models; media content; blog; revenue sharing; user-generated content; platform-based markets; Blogs; Business Model; Market Platforms; Commercialization; Online Advertising;

Citation:

Sun, Monic, and Feng Zhu. "Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs." Management Science 59, no. 10 (October 2013): 2314–2331.