Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

The market for online influence



Publishing details

Social Sciences Research Network

Authors / Editors

Fainmesser I P;Galeotti A


Publication Year



Recent developments in social media have morphed the age-old practice of paying influential individuals for product endorsements into a multibillion-dollar industry, extending well beyond celebrity sponsorships. We develop a parsimonious model in which influencers trade off the increased revenue they obtain from paid endorsements with the negative impact that these have on their followers' engagement and, therefore, on the price influencers receive from marketers. The model provides testable predictions that match suggestive evidence, reveals a novel type of inefficiency that emerges in this market, and clarifies the role of search technology and advice transparency in shaping market activity. In particular, we show that recent policies that make paid endorsements more transparent can backfire, whereas an increase in the effectiveness of the search technology that matches followers to influencers has both direct and strategic positive welfare effects. Our model informs influencers on how to optimally select their mix of products endorsement and organic content. It also shows that managers of platforms hosting influencers may gain from investing in algorithms that screen good influencers and match them to core platform users. This strategy creates competitive pressure amongst influencers to provide better advice, thereby increasing the value of the platform's advertising service. In fact, regulators may also find it beneficial to encourage the implementation of these strategies, because the increase in overall welfare is large, and may not be fully appropriated by platforms.


Social Sciences Research Network

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox


Sign up to receive our latest course information and business thinking

Leave your details above if you would like to receive emails containing the latest thought leadership, invitations to events and news about courses that could enhance your career. If you would prefer not to receive our emails, you can still access the case study by clicking the button below. You can opt-out of receiving our emails at any time by visiting: or by unsubscribing through the link provided in our emails. View our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.