Viral Marketing and Its Implications for E-Commerce

Viral Marketing and Its Implications for E-Commerce

Maria Petrescu (Nova Southeastern University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch158
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Viral Marketing

The origin of the term viral marketing is attributed to articles published in the 90s, when the Internet was starting to develop significantly, though there are different sources that receive credit for the term. Many published works attribute the formulation of the term “viral marketing” to Jurvetson and Draper (1997). The two authors used the term “viral marketing” to describe the free email service that Hotmail was providing at that time. In order to promote its services and spread the word about the availability of free email accounts, a message was included each sent e-mail from Hotmail noting that the company provides a free service available to anyone. Jurvetson and Draper’s definition of viral marketing is one of the most cited in the literature on viral marketing (Bampo et al. 2008; Cruz & Fill 2008; Datta et al. 2005; Fattah 2000; Petrescu & Korgaonkar 2011).

Other studies cite Harvard professor Rayport as mentioning the term in 1996 (Kirby & Marsden 2006; Shukla 2010), while others mention an even earlier use of the term in 1989, in a PC User magazine article referring to Apple computers - Macintosh (Kirby & Marsden 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Word-of-Mouth: Non-commercial, oral, person-to-person communication about a brand or product between consumers.

Electronic Word-of-Mouth: Online consumer-to-consumer communication regarding a brand or product.

Social Network: Relationships and interactions between friends, colleagues, and other personal or online contacts.

Consumer Buzz: Consumer-to-consumer communications regarding a company or brand resulting from viral marketing strategies.

Social media: Broad range of online platforms, such as social networking sites, brand-sponsored virtual worlds, open virtual worlds, video and photo communities, and social news.

Viral Marketing: Online and offline marketing activities performed to influence consumers to pass along commercial messages.

Viral Advertising: Unpaid electronic distribution of business or user generated advertisements from consumer to consumer.

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