An Investigation of the Evaluation of the Viral Marketing Research

An Investigation of the Evaluation of the Viral Marketing Research

Antonius Raghubansie (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, UK), Hatem El-Gohary (Birmingham City Business School, Birmingham City University, UK & Cairo University Business School, Cairo University, Egypt) and Chandrani Samaradivakara (Birmingham City Business School, Birmingham City University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7357-1.ch010
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This paper aims to locate the key schools of thought in viral marketing (VM) literature, recognise the various sub-sets within viral marketing overall area of research and to identify the different gaps in viral marketing research literature offering a summation of the existing work done so far. The paper tries to build on the existing body of literature in the field of viral marketing, its related electronic word of mouth (eWOM) context and to present a taxonomic classification for future research. The review uses the paradigm funnel to examine the development of VM, key research contributions and categorises the published literature according to their objectives, analytical approaches and their contributions to theory. The literature addresses many subjects of study (e.g. E-Marketing, E-Word of Mouth, Social Media, Peer-to-Peer Communications, Viral Marketing, Buzz Marketing, Stealth Marketing, Viral Advertising, Viral Videos and other aligned research areas). The findings illustrated that there are various gaps in the literature that require further investigation. Based on the findings, it is evident that the existing frameworks arising from the literature should be enhanced by the adoption of qualitative approaches that explore how general observations respond to contingent factors.
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1. Introduction

Viral marketing refers to sharing online marketing campaigns among consumers (Kozinets et al., 2010; Leskovec et al., 2007; de Bruyn and Lilien, 2004; Nantel and Sénécal, 2001). It does not ecompass campaigns against organisations (Kaikati and Kaikati, 2004) but to those experiences where consumers possess the motivation to share a message, which is sometimes clearly commercial and others where it is not (Cho, Jisu, and Faber, 2012; Kontraband, 2006). It has only been just over the last six years that studies of viral marketing (VM) have begun to appear in the top ranked journals (based on the findings of this research 44% of which are not from the marketing field). Given that the research area is so new, there is no thorough summation and/or an evaluation of the extant literature. This paper will address such a gap applying a comprehensive framework for an empirical literature review developed by Berthon, Nairn and Money (2003), the paradigm funnel. They propose that the literature is examined across four categories, moving from empirical observations, to applications of various methods, followed by specific theoretical contributions and finally to the underpinning paradigmatic assumptions within the research. In other words; from the observable to the implicit, where “anomalies on one level of the funnel can potentially be resolved by recourse to a deeper level” (Berthon, Nairn and Money, 2003; pp. 57).

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