【时间】2021年4月28日（周三）中午 11:45 – 13:15
【Speaker】Ting Li, Professor of Digital Business, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
【Topic】Referral Programs for Freemium Platforms: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment
【Time】Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 11:45am – 1:15pm
【Organizer】Department of Management Science and Engineering
We examine how freemium platforms can design social referral programs to encourage growth and engagement without sacrificing revenue. On the one hand, social referral programs generate new referrals from users that would not have paid for the premium features. On the other hand, they also attract new referrals from users that would have paid but prefer to invite others --- resulting in more referrals but fewer paying users. We use data from a large-scale randomized field experiment in an online dating platform to assess the effects of adding referrals programs to freemium platforms and changing the referral requirements on users' behavior, namely on their decisions to invite, pay and engage with the platform. We find that introducing referral programs in freemium platforms can significantly contribute to increasing the number of referrals at the expense of revenue. Platforms can avoid the loss in revenue by reserving some premium features exclusively to paying users. We also find that increasing referral requirements in social referral programs can work as a double-edged sword. Increasing the referral threshold results in more referrals and in higher total revenue. Yet, these benefits appear to come at a cost. Users become less engaged, decreasing the value of the platform for all users. We explore two mechanisms that help to explain the differences in users' social engagement. Finally, and contrary to prior findings, we find that the quality of the referrals is not affected by the referral requirements. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our research.
Ting Li is the Professor of Digital Business at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University in the Netherlands. She is the founding member and the Academic Director of Digital Business at the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics. Ting Li's research interest focuses on the understanding of the strategic use of information and its economic impacts on consumer behavior and firm strategy. Ting Li is an expert in digital strategy, social media analytics, mobile marketing, business analytics, digital advertising, AI and decision making, and pricing and revenue management. Her interdisciplinary work has been published in leading scientific journals and has been recognized with best paper awards and nominations, and sponsored by multiple grants from the Dutch National Science Foundation and multinational companies. Ting’s teaching expertise is in the areas of digital strategy, digital transformation, digital commerce, social and mobile analytics. She teaches in various MBA/EMBA degree programs and in executive education programs. In 2017, she was named by Poets & Quants as one of the Top 40 Professors Under 40 Worldwide. Prior to joining academic, Ting worked for General Electric and IBM in the area of e-business in supply chains, web services, and grid computing. She obtained her Ph.D. in Management Science at the Erasmus University and MSc in Computational Science at the University of Amsterdam.