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Home Events Events Archive 2014 Attention Allocation in Information-Rich Environments: The Case of News Aggregators

Attention Allocation in Information-Rich Environments: The Case of News Aggregators

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  • Visitor Seminars
When Nov 21, 2013 12:00 PM to
Nov 22, 2013 01:35 PM
Where Engr. IV Bldg., Faraday Room 67-124
Contact Name
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Chrysanthos Dellarocas

Boston University



News aggregators have emerged as an important component of digital content ecosystems, attracting traffic by hosting curated collections of links to third party content, but also inciting conflict with content producers. Aggregators provide titles and short summaries (snippets) of articles they link to. Content producers claim that their presence deprives them of traffic that would otherwise flow to their sites. In light of this controversy, we conduct a series of field experiments whose objective is to provide insight with respect to how readers allocate their attention between a news aggregator and the original articles it links to. Our experiments are based on manipulating elements of the user interface of a Swiss mobile news aggregator. We examine how key design parameters, such as the length of the text snippet that an aggregator provides about articles, the presence of associated images, and the number of related articles on the same story, affect a reader’s propensity to visit the content producer's site and read the full article. Our findings suggest the presence of a substitution relationship between the amount of information that aggregators offer about articles and the probability that readers will opt to read the full articles at the content producer sites. Interestingly, however, when several related article outlines compete for user attention, a longer snippet and the inclusion of an image increases the probability that an article will be chosen over its competitors.


Chrysanthos (Chris) Dellarocas is Professor of Information Systems at Boston University’s School of Management. He is also the Director of BU’s Digital Learning Initiative. He is one of the world’s most cited scholars in the fields of online reputation and social media. His other interests include collective intelligence, online advertising and the economics of media industries. Chris holds a Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, as well as a Ph.D. and M.S. degree in Computer Science from MIT. Prior to Boston University he taught at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and at the R. H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Before pursuing an academic career he was a management consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and McKinsey. Chris serves on the editorial boards of Management Science and Information Systems Research, both considered top journals in the field of Information Systems and is a recipient of numerous teaching, funding and merit awards, including the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award. He also holds 9 patents and is co-founder and advisor of a number of companies in the technology field.

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