Can information be spread as a virus? Viral Marketing as epidemiological model

Preprint English OPEN
Rodrigues, Helena Sofia ; Fonseca, Manuel José (2016)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1002/mma.3783
  • Subject: Computer Science - Social and Information Networks | Physics - Physics and Society | 34A34, 92D30, 91F99
    mesheuropmc: health care economics and organizations

In epidemiology, an epidemic is defined as the spread of an infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time. In the marketing context, a message is viral when it is broadly sent and received by the target market through person-to-person transmission. This specific marketing communication strategy is commonly referred as viral marketing. Due to this similarity between an epidemic and the viral marketing process and because the understanding of the critical factors to this communications strategy effectiveness remain largely unknown, the mathematical models in epidemiology are presented in this marketing specific field. In this paper, an epidemiological model SIR (Susceptible- Infected-Recovered) to study the effects of a viral marketing strategy is presented. It is made a comparison between the disease parameters and the marketing application, and Matlab simulations are performed. Finally, some conclusions are carried out and their marketing implications are exposed: interactions across the parameters suggest some recommendations to marketers, as the profitability of the investment or the need to improve the targeting criteria of the communications campaigns.
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