Media, Aggregators and the Link Economy

The debate between content aggregators and content creators is raging and may soon reach the courts, or even the U.S. Congress. The appropriation of advertising and other revenues associated with site traffic is a key point of contention. This important debate has so far involved CEOs, bloggers, consultants and lawyers. In this project we attempt to take a scientific approach to this question by rigorously attempting to model the micro and macro level implications of hyper-linking and content aggregation for content industries, marketing managers and consumers. Our aim is to provide a scientific framework that can help assess the implications of the diverse strategies and policy interventions that are currently on the table. To conquer the inherent complexity of the settings we study, we follow a three-pronged approach that consists of game-theoretic modeling, agent-based simulation and data analysis. Our first round of modeling has uncovered some key insights and parameters whose value qualitatively affects the nature of the predicted outcomes and their normative implications. As we continue to expand on our initial work, we are empirically estimating some of the key parameters that our initial modeling work has uncovered and developing empirically-validated models of the consumer-level processes of news and associated advertising consumption in settings with aggregators.

This project is a joint effort between William Rand (University of Maryland) Chris Dellarocas (Boston University) and Zsolt Katona (University of California at Berkeley).

Previous presentations related to this research include: