2015- Working Papers: Technology and Information Systems

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"Your Action is Needed": The effect of website-initiated participation on user contributions to content websites, 30 pp.
L. Zalmanson and G. Oestreicher-Singer
(Working Paper No. 2/2015)
Research no.: 05040100


The success of contemporary content websites relies on users' active participation and contribution in the form of both social participation and payments. Recent research on website strategy and sustainability has found a link between users' social participation and users' willingness to pay for content-related services. However, website owners still find it challenging to elicit participation and payment behavior.

While previous research focused only on implicit encouragement to participate, we present website-initiated participation: the use of "Calls to Action" by the website that requires the user to perform participatory actions in order to consume content. We study the relation between website-initiated participation and users' willingness to contribute both effort and monetary funds. We present a series of web experiments in a website called VideoBook that provides high-quality video content.

Our first study shows that users who are given Calls to Action donate more money to the website compared with users who are not exposed to such prompts. We also show that even one prompt is enough to increase users' likelihood of voluntarily engaging with the website and to increase the number of contributions. The prompts do not affect users' enjoyment or willingness to continue using the website. Our second study, motivated by research on incremental engagement, shows that the sequence of participatory activities is also crucial; when the tasks that users are prompted to engage are presented in increasing order of effort level, users tend to donate and participate more than when tasks are not ordered. We extend our results by presenting a heterogeneity analysis that shows connection between the number of videos watched by the user and its susceptibility to website-initiated participation. 


Using forums and search for sales prediction of high-involvement products, 45 pp.
T. Geva, G. Oestreicher-Singer, N. Efron and Y. Shimshoni
(Working Paper No. 3/2015)
Research no.: 05050100

A large body of research uses data from social media websites to predict offline economic outcomes such as sales. However, recent research also points out that such data may be subject to various limitations and biases that may hurt predictive accuracy. At the same time, a growing body of research shows that a new source of online information—search engine logs—has the potential to predict offline outcomes. We study the relationship between these two important data sources in the context of sales predictions. Focusing on the automotive industry—a classic example of a domain of high-involvement products—we use Google’s comprehensive index of internet discussion forums, in addition to Google search trend data. We find that adding search trend data to models based on the more commonly-used social media data significantly improves predictive accuracy. We also find that predictive models based on inexpensive search trend data provide predictive accuracy that is comparable, at least, to that of social media-based predictive models. Last, we show that the improvement in accuracy is considerably larger for “value” car brands, while for “premium” car brands the improvement obtained is more moderate.

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