ORIE PhD Students' Paper on Viral Marketing Against a Competing Product is Nominated for a "Best Paper" Award
Tim Carnes, Chandra Nagarajan, Stefan Wild and Anke van Zuylen presented a paper on "Maximizing Influence in a Competitive Social Network: A Follower's Perspective" at the Ninth International Conference on Electronic Commerce in Minneapolis.
The nominated paper grew out of a course, The Structure of Information Networks, taught by Cornell computer science professor Jon Kleinberg. Like most computer science papers, the students' paper was published in refereed conference proceedings. Unlike most papers written by students, this was not co-authored with a faculty member, nor was it nominated in a student paper competition.
The paper considers a company that wants to use viral marketing to introduce a new product following a competing product that has already been introduced, but has available only a fixed buget to use in targeting a subset of consumers who are expected to influence their friends' decision of which product to purchase. Using two models for the spread of influence through a social network, the team developed an algorithm that is shown to yield at least 63% of the maximum possible market share, despite the inherently difficult computational nature of the problem. Moreover they show that the company may be able to target a relatively small set of the right consumers and thereby capture a majority of the market despite a late start.
The conference session in Minneapolis was chaired by Eric Clemons, who received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1976. He is a Professor of Operations and Information Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In their Ph.D. research, Tim Carnes is working with David Shmoys, Chandra Nagarajan and Anke van Zuylen are working with Professor David Williamson and Stefan Wild is working with Professor Christine Shoemaker.