Dina Mayzlin on Measuring Online Word of Mouth
In the late 1990s, Dina Mayzlin says, marketers were skeptical that discussions on the internet could lead to sales in the real world. Mayzlin, now an associate professor of marketing at Yale SOM, and David Godes, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, conducted groundbreaking research looking at the relationship between posts about television shows on the Usenet discussion board and the ratings of the shows.
Mayzlin and Godes found that online word of mouth did have an effect on the viewership of TV programs. They found that the crucial measure in predicting ratings was not the volume of posts, as generally assumed, but their "entropy": the degree to which discussion of a program spread from one Usenet group to another.
Mayzlin and Godes published the results of the study in 2004, in the Marketing Science paper "Using Online Conversations to Study Word-of-Mouth Communication." In 2011, the much-cited paper won the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award, which is given to a paper that is "viewed to have made a significant long run impact on the field of marketing."