Big Data, Big Opportunities: Revenue Sources of Social Media Services Besides Advertising

  • Julian Bühler
  • Aaron W. Baur
  • Markus Bick
  • Jimin Shi
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9373)


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other players in the social media world have been on the rise during the last couple of years. In contrast to their popularity, their underlying business models are vague and often only linked to advertising. In this explorative study we identify new revenue sources for social media service providers besides advertising. Based on three use cases with Facebook, Tencent, and LinkedIn, we identify three possibly fruitful ways to extend existing social media business models. Subsequently, a survey with 301 respondents changes perspectives on the user’s willingness to pay in order to identify usage-related differences evoked by cultural and external circumstances. Four derived hypotheses lead the way to avenues of further research especially in terms of Big Data analytics with new e-commerce trends like Facebook’s Buy Button.


Social media Advertising Business models Big data Case study 


  1. 1.
    Alexa Internet Inc.: The top 500 sites on the web.
  2. 2.
    Facebook: updating our terms and policies: helping you understand how facebook works and how to control your information.
  3. 3.
    Melanson, D.: Facebook reports $1.81 billion in revenue for Q2 2013, 1.15 billion monthly active users.
  4. 4.
    Statista: Facebook’s global revenue as of 1st quarter 2015, by segment (in million U.S. dollars).
  5. 5.
    Moorthy, J., Lahiri, R., Biswas, N., Sanyal, D., Ranjan, J., Nanath, K., Ghosh, P.: Big data: prospects and challenges. J. Decis. Makers 40, 74–96 (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Clemons, E.K.: Business models for monetizing internet applications and web sites: experience, theory, and predictions. J. Manag. Inf. Syst. 26, 15–41 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Zambonini, D.: Monetizing your web app: business model options.
  8. 8.
    Vukanovic, Z.: New media business models in social and web media. J. Media Bus. Stud. 8, 51–67 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Goes, P.B.: Big data and IS research. MIS Q. 38, iii–viii (2014)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaplan, A.M., Haenlein, M.: Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Bus. Horiz. 53, 59–68 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chiang, I., Huang, C., Huang, C.: Characterizing web users’ degree of web 2.0-ness. J. Am. Soc. Inform. Sci. Technol. 60, 1349–1357 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    boyd, d., Ellison, N.B.: Social network sites: definition, history, and scholarship. J. Comput.-Mediated Commun. 13, 210–230 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Maier, C., Laumer, S., Weitzel, T.: Although I am stressed, I still use IT! Theorizing the decisive impact of strain and addiction of social network site users in post-acceptance theory. In: Proceedings of 34th International Conference on Information Systems, Milan, Italy (2013)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wilhelm, A.: Facebook’s desktop ad revenues fell $26 m, in Q3 as its mobile ad revenue surged $226 m.
  15. 15.
  16. 16.
    boyd, d., Crawford, K.: Critical questions for big data. Inf. Commun. Soc. 15, 662–679 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Johnston, K.: What are the advantages of mobile advertising?
  18. 18.
    Yin, R.K.: Case Study Research. Design and Methods. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (1994)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dubé, L., Paré, G.: Rigor in information systems positivist case research: current practices, trends, and recommendations. MIS Q. 27, 597–635 (2003)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Benbasat, I., Goldstein, D.K., Mead, M.: The case research strategy in studies of information systems. MIS Q. 11, 369–386 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Eisenhardt, K.M.: Building theories from case study research. Acad. Manag. Rev. 14, 532–550 (1989)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mays, N., Pope, C.: Qualitative research: rigour and qualitative research. BMJ 311, 109–112 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M.: Qualitative Data Analysis. An Expanded Sourcebook. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (1994)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lee, A.S.: A scientific methodology for MIS case studies. MIS Q. 13, 33–50 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sawyer, S.: Analysis by long walk: some approaches to the synthesis of multiple sources of evidence. In: Trauth, E.M. (ed.) Qualitative Research in IS. Issues and Trends. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey (2001)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Nisbett, R., Ross, L.: Human Inference. Strategies and Shortcomings of Social Judgment. N.J. Prentice-Hall XVI, Englewood Cliffs (1980)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hair, J.F.: Multivariate Data Analysis. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River (2010)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Stopher, P.R.: Collecting, Managing, and Assessing Data using Sample Surveys. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2012)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Javelin strategy and research: virtual currency and social network payments – the new gold rush: how emerging virtual transactions will alter the payments landscape forever (2011).
  30. 30.
    Ho, C.-H., Wu, T.-Y.: Factors affecting intent to purchase virtual goods in online games. Int. J. Electron. Bus. Manag. 10, 204–212 (2012)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Animesh, A., Alain, P., Sung-Byung, Y., Wonseok, O.: An odyssey into virtual worlds: exploring the impacts of technological and spatial environments on intention to purchase virtual products. MIS Q. 35, 789–810 (2011)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Guo, Y., Barnes, S.: Virtual item purchase behavior in virtual worlds: an exploratory investigation. Electron. Commer. Res. 9, 77–96 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Anderson, C.: Free: the past and future of a radical price. Hyperion, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Niculescu, M.F., Wu, D.J.: When should software firms commercialize new products via freemium business models? (2011)
  35. 35.
    Tencent: tencent announces 2014 third quarter and interim results.
  36. 36.
    Eldon, E.: Facebook sets July, 1, 2011 deadline to make credits sole canvas game payment option.
  37. 37.
  38. 38.
    Tencent: tencent - products and services – ecommerce.
  39. 39.
    Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y.: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. Wiley, New Jersey (2013)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Bühler
    • 1
  • Aaron W. Baur
    • 1
  • Markus Bick
    • 1
  • Jimin Shi
    • 1
  1. 1.ESCP Europe Business School BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations