The Complementary Roles of Traditional and Social Media in Driving Marketing Performance

Stephen, Andrew T.; Galak, Jeff
September 2009
INSEAD Working Papers Collection;2009, Issue 52, p1
Working Paper
The media landscape has dramatically changed over the past decade, with traditional media (e.g., newspapers, television) now supplemented by social media (e.g., blogs, discussion forums). This new media landscape is not well understood with respect to (i) the joint impacts of traditional and social media on marketing performance (e.g., sales), (ii) how these media types influence each other, and (iii) the mechanisms through which they affect marketing outcomes. These issues are examined with 14 months of daily performance data and media activity for a microfinance website. The authors find that both traditional and social media have strong effects on marketing performance, though a single unit of social media has a much smaller effect than a single unit of traditional media. However, because social media is created in larger volumes than traditional media, it has a sizeable effect on performance (i.e., social media is high-volume, low-margin, whereas traditional media is low-volume, high-margin). Further, social media acts as a broker of information flow in an informal network comprising traditional and social media outlets.


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