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To Pay or Not To Pay. Profit Maximizing Payment Schemes on Social Media Platforms

Shaolei Ren, UCLA.

Wednesday, Feb 15, EEB 248, 2:00pm

Abstract: With an explosive growth of the Internet, we have witnessed a significant expansion of social media platforms for creating and exchanging user-generated content during the past decade. On these platforms, users can view content for free and can post content voluntarily. Well-known examples of social media platforms include YouTube, Facebook, and Yelp. However, while these platforms play an important social role, the primary goal of platform owners is to maximize their profits.

In this talk, I consider a social media platform with user-generated content and operated by a profit-maximizing platform owner. I will talk about a class of payment schemes, in which the platform owner pays or charges content contributors per content view while the content is viewed for free by to content viewers. I model strategic interactions among the platform owner, content contributors, and content viewers as a two-sided market, while taking into account both content heterogeneity and content contributors’ competition for content views. In order to study the optimal payment rate for the platform owner, I analyze a three-stage game in which the platform owner sets a payment rate, content contributors decide whether to make contributions or not, and content viewers allocate their content views over the available content. The analysis suggests conditions under which the platform owner should pay or charge content contributors. I will conclude this talk by discussing the negative impact of payment on users’ social incentives to make content contributions and by discussing extension to other aspects of social media platforms such as energy consumption.

Short Bio:

Shaolei Ren is a final-year Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), working with Prof. Mihaela van der Schaar. He received his B.E. degree and M.Phil. degree from Tsinghua University in 2006 and from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2008, respectively, both in electrical engineering. His research interests include cloud computing, network economics and smart grid. He received the Best Paper Award at IEEE International Conference on Communications in 2009, and was selected by IBM T. J. Watson Research as one of the 10 worldwide Emerging Leaders in Multimedia and Signal Processing in 2010. In recognition of his research, he also received the prestigious Dissertation Year Fellowship 2011-2012 from UCLA.

Host: Alex Dimakis, dimakis [at]

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