Content Length Limit: How Does It Matter for a Consumer-to-Consumer Media Platform?

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1287/isre.2022.0595

Our study is inspired by the rapid growth of consumer-to-consumer (C2C) media platforms such as TikTok. We adopt a classical economical approach to modeling how utility-maximizing consumers select content pieces to view on a C2C media platform through a sequential inspection process and investigate how a platform in pursuit of market performance can devise an optimal policy on content length limit to induce desired viewer behaviors. First, we show that when content on the platform are longer, viewers set a higher standard of match value in selecting content to view, leading to a lower click-through rate of contributed content on the platform. This finding suggests that a tight limit on content length increases click-through rate. Second, we show that extended content length on the platform first enhances platform performance but then hurts its performance, following an inverted U-shape curve. This pattern holds true for short-term performance measured by viewer traffic and total viewing time, as well as for long-term performance measured by total consumer surplus. This finding suggests the existence of an optimal content length. Third, we find that the optimal content length that maximizes viewer traffic is smaller than that maximizes total viewing time, which is further smaller than that maximizes consumer surplus. As such, a platform that switches the strategic focus from short-term advertising revenue to long-term growth will benefit from extending content length limit.

History: Karthik Kannan, Senior Editor; Zhengrui Jiang, Associate Editor.

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