Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship

Time: Friday 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
Location: 365A Melcher Hall
Open to Public: No reservation or registration required.

Note: Topics and Abstracts will be added to this page throughout the semester

Date Speaker Topic Faculty Host
9/29/2017 David Schweidel
Sam Hui
9/25/2017 Shijie Lu
    Dynamic Effect of Digital Badging on User-generated Content Platforms
  • Click to read Abstract

    User-generated content (UGC) platforms have increasingly utilized digital badging as a key mechanism to incentivize user engagement. This research empirically examines the dynamic effect of digital badging on individual user’s content consumption, interaction, and generation behavior on a UGC platform. Two types of digital badges are considered: digital badges awarded by the platform (FDBs) and digital badges received from peer users (UDBs). To capture the dynamics in user engagement, the authors develop a hidden Markov model in which a user’s engagement decisions are affected by her underlying engagement state associated with the platform and digital badges received. By applying the proposed model to a unique panel data set from a large UGC platform, the authors find three distinctive engagement states of users. In the short run, while the impact of UDBs is generally homogenous by encouraging both content consumption and generation for users in all three states, the impact of FDBs is more heterogeneous across users’ engagement states. In the long run, a double-edged effect of FDBs is found by encouraging content generation but suppressing content consumption. Finally, the authors demonstrate the value of the proposed model in helping UGC platforms design targeted FDB systems.

Seshadri Tirunillai
9/22/2017 Kathleen (Kathy) Li
    Statistical Inference for Average Treatment Effects Estimated by Synthetic Control Methods
  • Click to read Abstract

    The synthetic control method (SCM), a powerful tool for estimating average treatment effects (ATE), is increasingly popular in fields such as statistics, economics, and marketing and has been called “arguably the most important innovation in the evaluation literature in the last fifteen years” (Athey and Imbens 2016). However, SCM has the main limitation that there is no inference theory: therefore, it is not possible to calculate confidence bounds, exact p-values or conduct hypothesis tests. Existing work mostly uses placebo tests. I derive the inference theory for the synthetic control ATE estimators using projection theory, and show that a properly designed subsampling method can be used to obtain confidence intervals and conduct hypothesis test, whereas the standard bootstrap cannot. A second limitation of SCM is that when there is heterogeneity among control units and treatment unit (which occurs frequently in economic and marketing data settings), the synthetic control version of parallel lines assumption may not hold and it can perform poorly in in-sample fit and out-of-sample predictions. I show through an empirical illustration that a modification to the SCM proposed by Doudchenko and Imbens (2016) allows the method to be more widely applied. Simulations and an empirical application examining the effect of opening a physical showroom by Warby Parker demonstrates the usefulness of the inference theory and modified synthetic control method.

Seshadri Tirunillai
365B MH
Tong (Joy) Lu
    Binge Consumption of Online Content: A Boundedly Rational Model of Goal Progress and Knowledge Accumulation
  • Click to read Abstract

    Binge consumption of online content has emerged as a trending phenomenon among customers of online streaming services, with various content providers spanning the spectrum from entertainment to education. Here, we focus on binging within an online education setting, using clickstream data from Coursera in which we observe individual-level lecture and quiz consumption patterns across multiple courses. We extend the literature by distinguishing between “temporal binging,” where individuals consume multiple pieces of content in a single sitting, and “content binging,” where individuals consume content from the same course in succession. We build a model that captures individual decisions about which course to consume, whether the content is a lecture or a quiz, and when to take breaks of different lengths. The parameters of our model can be mapped to specific theories in consumer psychology, which allows us to test for the mechanisms that drive binge consumption. There are three key features of our model: First, we assume that individuals are motivated to consume to progress towards the goal of completing the course. We find that consumption patterns are consistent with those predicted by goal gradient and slack theory, but inconsistent with other theories. Second, individuals are motivated to accumulate knowledge through lectures in order to pass quizzes. Beliefs about quiz-taking abilities are updated based on prior quiz scores, which we observe as a concrete measure of knowledge of the course material. Third, we assume that individuals are forward-looking in a boundedly rational way. To explore whether different firm policies may impact binging patterns, we conduct counterfactual simulations to determine how the timing of content release affects consumption and knowledge accumulation. We then test these predictions using data obtained after a “natural experiment” policy change when the Coursera platform transitioned from sequential to simultaneous course content release in the year following our original data sample.

Seshadri Tirunillai
7/31/2017 Julie Lee
University of Western Australia
    The theory, measurement and application of values and values-expression across the human lifespan
  • Click to read Abstract

    Personal values, as a major aspect of personality, have received a great deal of attention in psychology, but far less in marketing. Values, as motivational life goals, indicate what is important to people across contexts and situations. They have been related to a wide range of attitudes and behaviours, especially those that are not resource constrained. However, marketers are mostly interested in behaviour that is resource constrained. In this seminar, recent refinements to values theory and measurement will be discussed and the ways in which value-expression might be uncovered will be explored. Data presented is from the first stage of a large cross-sequential study of over 7000 adults, who are participating in a 3 year study. The full study will be explained and opportunities for collaboration can be explored.

Jackie Kacen
4/14/2017 Willa Friedman
UH Economics
    Money, Masculinity, and Men’s Health: Experimental Evidence on Demand for a Preventive Health Input
  • Click to read Abstract

    A fundamental puzzle about human behavior is the low level of household investment in preventive health inputs. We conducted a field experiment testing advertising strategies designed to increase demand for a life-saving preventive health technology. Offering compensation of US$10 conditional on completing a counseling session for the technology tripled uptake. Framing the basic advertisement using the statement, “Are you tough enough?”, doubled uptake. Suggestive evidence indicates these advertisements reduced procrastination. Our study appears to be the first showing that a small conditional cash transfer for a one-time health clinic visit can improve individual investment in preventive health inputs.

    The 34th UH Marketing Doctoral Symposium
4/7/2017 Keynote speaker: David Bell
    The 34th UH Marketing Doctoral Symposium
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Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship
University of Houston
334 Melcher Hall
Houston, Texas 77204-6021
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