ABSTRACT

Purpose – The existing marketing studies using Social Network Analysis have assumed that network structure variables are time-invariant. However, a node’s network position can fluctuate considerably over time and the node’s network structure can be changed dynamically. Hence, if such a dynamic structural network characteristics are not specified for virtual goods purchase model, estimated parameters can be biased. In this paper, by comparing a time–invariant network structure specification model(base model) and time-varying network specification model(proposed model), the authors intend to prove whether the proposed model is superior to the base model. In addition, the authors also intend to investigate whether coefficients of network structure variables are random over time. Research design, data, and methodology – The data of this study are obtained from a Korean social network provider. The authors construct a monthly panel data by calculating the raw data. To fit the panel data, the authors derive random effects panel tobit model and multi-level mixed effects model. Results – First, the proposed model is better than that of the base model in terms of performance. Second, except for constraint, multi-level mixed effects models with random coefficient of every network structure variable(in-degree, out-degree, in-closeness centrality, out-closeness centrality, clustering coefficient) perform better than not random coefficient specification model. Conclusion – The size and importance of virtual goods market has been dramatically increasing. Notwithstanding such a strategic importance of virtual goods, there is little research on social influential factors which impact the intention of virtual good purchase. Even studies which investigated social influence factors have assumed that social network structure variables are time-invariant. However, the authors show that network structure variables are time-variant and coefficients of network structure variables are random over time. Thus, virtual goods purchase model with dynamic network structure variables performs better than that with static network structure model. Hence, if marketing practitioners intend to use social influences to sell virtual goods in social media, they had better consider time-varying social influences of network members. In addition, this study can be also differentiated from other related researches using survey data in that this study deals with actual field data.

KEYWORD

Virtual Good Purchase, Social Media, Time-varying Network Structure Variables, Random Effects Panel Tobit Model, Social Network Analysis.

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