Data Science for Sales and Marketing

Current Research Projects
Data analytics and data science visualizations

Visibility-at-Risk: Measuring Firms’ Risk of Visibility Losses in Organic Search Results

Organic search traffic is essential for most firms, such that a loss of visibility in organic search results represents a severe concern. Yet little is known about this form of risk. This article establishes methods for measuring, monitoring, and reporting the risk of visibility losses in organic search results to better integrate marketing with enterprise risk management. An empirical study of 965 firms over 12 years reveals that half of them face a 5% probability of losing more than 23% of their visibility within a month. The potential losses rise to 51% and 63% at six- and twelve-month intervals, respectively. Governmental institutions, platforms, and marketplaces enjoy the lowest risk; technology, electronics, and entertainment firms suffer the highest risk of visibility losses. On average, firms can recover only 37% of lost organic search traffic. Other traffic sources do not help firms mitigate this risk because they diminish too when firms lose organic search traffic. An analysis using Expedia as an example indicates that a 10% loss of visibility in a month can prompt revenue losses up to 2.46%. Considering the extent of this risk and its potential impact, firms should regularly measure, monitor, and disclose it.

Keywords: online marketing, risk, search engine optimization (SEO), organic search results, visibility.


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera

Project Member: Gabriela Alves Werb

A table with small stones with letters on which the term Digital Marketing is written.

Mapping and Forecasting the Evolution of Market Structure

A common element of market structure analysis is the spatial representation of firms' competitive positions on maps. Such maps typically capture static snapshots. Yet, competitive positions tend to be in flux, and market structures can evolve. Firms ' trajectories are embedded in the evolution of market structures—the series of changes in firms' positions over time relative to all other firms in a market. Identifying these trajectories contributes additional insights to market structure analysis because it reveals firms' positioning strategies, identifies emerging threats and opportunities, and provides a forward-looking perspective on competition. Yet, we show that extant approaches cannot accurately identify firms' trajectories. To unlock these insights, we propose EvoMap, a novel dynamic mapping method that identifies firms' trajectories in market structure maps. We validate EvoMap in an extensive simulation study and show that it outperforms existing approaches. Using EvoMap, we study the trajectories of more than 1,000 publicly listed firms over 20 years. EvoMap accurately reveals changes in the positioning strategies of firms such as Apple and Capital One. Moreover, our empirical study showcases how EvoMap creates a novel opportunity for market structure analysis: forecasting firms' future competitive positions based on their trajectories.

Keywords: market analysis, visualization, marketing strategy


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera

Project Members: Daniel Ringel, Maximilian Matthe

insights from data science

Firms' Focus on Brand and Customer Management: Measurement, Development, and Financial Consequences

Firms need to decide on a suitable marketing strategy to make their offer distinctive and profitable in today's saturated market. In particular, firms need to choose if they want to focus on brand management (BM), customer management (CM), or both. Our study adopts a textual analysis method to construct a new set of measurements for firm-level BM and CM focus. Applying our measurement in an empirical study covering 2,101 publicly listed U.S. firms over 17 years, we investigate (a) how firms' BM and CM focus develops over time, (b) whether such development is subject to structural factors, and (c) how firms' BM and CM focus relates to their financial performance. Our results show that, on average, firms' focus on both BM and CM increases over time. The distribution and development of firms' BM and CM focus vary remarkably across industries and business groups. Furthermore, a higher focus on BM and CM predicts higher firm profitability.


brand management, customer management, textual analysis, marketing strategy


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera

Project Memebers: Prof. Dr. Werner Reinartz, Simeng Han

Digital Embracement of Firms: Measurement, Antecedents, and Financial Consequences

Many people claim that firms need to embrace digital technologies. Yet, little knowledge exists about digital embracement, its antecedents, and financial consequences. This article proposes a textual approach to measure digital embracement, here defined as the firms' strategic attention to digital technologies. It applies it in an empirical study covering 2,278 publicly listed U.S. firms over 17 years. The results outline a vast heterogeneity in the digital embracement of firms and industries, with the business equipment and the telecommunication industries far ahead of all other industries. Besides industry, the most important antecedents of firms' digital embracement are their financial conditions, size, and age. Remarkably, a higher digital embracement predicts higher financial performance.

Keywords: digital embracement, textual analysis, strategic attention


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera

Project Members: Prof. Dr. Alexander Hillert, Simeng Han

Data analytics and data science visualizations

How Does Media’s Reporting Tone Influence Consumption?

The recent US-China trade conflict has inflicted high costs on US consumers through repeated rounds of tariff increases. These mechanisms are well understood. However, trade conflicts do not occur in a vacuum and, during the Trump presidency, aggressive rhetoric accompanied them. In this project, we exploit this setting to investigate whether communication styles causally impact daily consumer behavior. In particular, we estimate how the reporting tone in the media changed US citizens’ consumption of China-associated goods—in our case, visits to Chinese restaurants. To identify causal effects, we rely on big data econometrics. We analyze a text corpus including all relevant articles from over 140 US newspapers and quantify its tone with modern textual analysis techniques.

Additionally, we use high-frequency smartphone-tracking data on restaurant visits from all 50 US states to measure consumer responses. First results show economically large and statistically significant effects and substantial variation in consumption responses across different demographic characteristics. Developing a better understanding of how reporting impacts consumption holds practical implications for publishers, policymakers, and companies that choose their communication styles on a day-to-day basis.

Keywords: Consumption, Consumer Behavior, Textual Analysis, Location Data, Trade


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera

Project Members: Celina Proffen, Lukas Jürgensmeier

Investigation of the Buy-Now-Pay-Later Market in Germany: Competitive Landscape, Consumer Motives and Market Entry Potentials

The Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) market is highly attractive to players in the financial industry. Firstly, it has grown significantly over the past years, mostly driven by strong ecommerce growth. Secondly, the market offers relatively high margins by provisions, fees or interest rates, depending on the business model. This is highly interesting as the financial industry has suffered from declining margins, e.g., due to the low interest rate regime. However, the BNPL market definition is vague and far from being standardized. Therefore, this project strives to size the BNPL market given the project’s BNPL definition. The BNPL definition will also help gaining a comprehensive market overview of active market players, their strategies and BNPL product offerings.

Furthermore, the project will focus on short term online and offline BNPL solutions that are seamlessly integrated in the user’s payment journey and payment process. Thereby, the motivational factors of users or consumers to rely on BNPL offerings will be investigated since this field is largely unexplored and existing theories offer contradicting viewpoints in order to explain the success of BNPL offerings. So far, research has shown that people have an inclination to pay and consume at the same point in time. However, with BNPL people consume immediately but incur the (emotional) cost of paying for the transaction later and even more frequently, as usually BNPL offerings are installment payments over a longer time horizon. The investigation of consumer payment behavior is highly relevant not only for financial services as a monetization stream, but also for ecommerce companies as BNPL companies suggest that they help to increase sales. By combining the abovementioned investigative areas for a competitive landscape and consumer behavior, we derive a decision framework for strategic options of a potential BNPL market entry, e.g., by identifying areas of core competition, detecting potentially underserved market segments and deriving defendable differentiators for a BNPL offering.

The combination of the abovementioned topics offers intriguing new perspectives. Firstly, market dynamics and competition in the two-sided payment market, including its developing market structure and active players. Secondly, user’s motivational factors to use BNPL offerings as opposed to other payment methods and thirdly, the effects of potential integration of loyalty schemes or aspects in the payment journey.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Oliver Hinz

Project Members: Björn Hanneke


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