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Refereed Papers

Track: Internet Monetization: Recommendation and Security

Paper Title:
Optimal Marketing Strategies over Social Networks


We discuss the use of social networks in implementing viral marketing strategies. While influence maximization has been studied in this context (see Chapter 24 of [10]), we study revenue maximization, arguably, a more natural objective. In our model, a buyer's decision to buy an item is influenced by the set of other buyers that own the item and the price at which the item is offered.

We focus on algorithmic question of finding revenue maximizing marketing strategies. When the buyers are completely symmetric, we can find the optimal marketing strategy in polynomial time. In the general case, motivated by hardness results, we investigate approximation algorithms for this problem. We identify a family of strategies called influence-and-exploit strategies that are based on the following idea: Initially influence the population by giving the item for free to carefully a chosen set of buyers. Then extract revenue from the remaining buyers using a 'greedy' pricing strategy. We first argue why such strategies are reasonable and then show how to use recently developed set-function maximization techniques to find the right set of buyers to influence.

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