Quotation Wlömert, Nils, Hotz-Behofsits, Christian, Abou Nabout, Nadia. 2018. Online Content Monetization: How Paywalls Affect Human Brand Success. 40th INFORMS Marketing Science Conference, Philadelphia, Vereinigte Staaten/USA, 13.06.-16.06.




The increasing use of social media enables influential users to market themselves as human brands (e.g., YouTubers) by creating content (e.g., videos) that is consumed by their followers. Many social media platforms allow human brands to monetize their content through advertising, or subscription fees, or both. Choosing the right monetization strategy is not a trivial task for human brands. While providing content free of charge may increase brand value by attracting a large audience, charging for content may increase the per-view income from customers who are willing to pay for the content. However, charging for content that was previously available free of charge might also lead to a consumer backlash and adversely affect brand value. To disentangle these potential effects, we exploit a quasi-experiment that recently occurred when the world's largest video streaming platform introduced a paywall (i.e., YouTube Red). Specifically, we investigate how the paywall introduction affects (1) brand usage and popularity (e.g., video views, channel subscribers), and (2) social media brand engagement (e.g., Twitter followers, Facebook likes, sentiment of user comments). To estimate these effects, we rely on a data set containing daily usage and engagement metrics from various social media platforms for a period of more than two years. The sample comprises three million videos, produced by 4200 human brands, and two billion textual user comments, analyzed using state-of-the-art sentiment analysis techniques. The results suggest that the proportion of negative comments increased directly after the paywall introduction, but this effect wears out over time. Surprisingly, we find positive effects for brand usage and popularity, suggesting a promotional effect of the paywall introduction.


Press 'enter' for creating the tag

Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Paper presented at an academic conference or symposium
Language English
Title Online Content Monetization: How Paywalls Affect Human Brand Success
Event 40th INFORMS Marketing Science Conference
Year 2018
Date 13.06.-16.06.
Country United States/USA
Location Philadelphia


Wlömert, Nils (Details)
Hotz-Behofsits, Christian (Details)
Abou Nabout, Nadia (Details)
Institute for Interactive Marketing and Social Media IN (Details)
Google Scholar: Search