The Effect of Linking and Excerpting on Web Site Traffic

When Internet publishers excerpt from and link to their competition, do they steal a share of the excerpted site’s audience? Or does excerpting increase the linked sites’ audience? Theoretically, either is possible, as the overall impact depends on myriad factors, including the relative attractiveness of the sites in the eyes of consumers. Using detailed browsing data, web crawling software, and an innovative model of consumer choice, we measure the impact of linking on site traffic. In one application involving celebrity news sites, we find that sites providing curated links to their competitors' content benefit from increased traffic. And although some of that traffic goes on to visit the competition, the sites that do the linking benefit more.

Manuscript in preparation.

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