Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: An innovation (e.g., new product or idea) spreads like a virus, transmitted by those who have previously adopted it. We characterize equilibrium adoption dynamics and the resulting lifecycle of virally-spread innovations. Herding on adoption can occur but only early in the innovation lifecycle, and all virally-spread innovations eventually become obsolescent. A producer capable of advertising directly to consumers finds it optimal to wait and allow awareness to grow virally initially after launch. When most innovations would otherwise be high (low) quality absent any viral social learning, running an optimal-length viral campaign decreases (increases) equilibrium investment in innovation quality.
Written with Yangbo Song. For the seminar, Professor McAdams will be joined by guests Aniko Öry and Matt Jackson.