Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 38 Number 2 2021 pp. 457-483

Monetization Of Digital Content: Drivers Of Revenue On Q&A Platforms

Ye, Hua (Jonathan), Yang, Xueping, Wang, Xinwei, and Stratopoulos, Theophanis C


Valuation of digital content has important individual, organizational, and microeconomic implications. Yet, the existing understanding of digital content consumption is focused primarily on consumption of free content. This means, that digital content is not a source of revenue for contributors and not directly tied to the revenue or expenses of these platforms and that it is practically impossible to capture its value in national income accounts. Academic and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that sharing of revenue from paid viewership in paid question-and-answer (Q&A) platforms is a factor that differentiates successful platforms, such as Weibo Q&A, from unsuccessful ones, such as Google Answers. Yet, the growing paid Q&A literature does not shed much light on our understanding of the drivers of revenues from paid viewership. Our study focuses on the unique revenue sharing of paid viewership among stakeholders because this feature makes paid Q&A a success and helps ensure the sustainability of the hosting social media platform. This study draws upon signaling theory to identify the drivers of the sales of paid viewership. We further draw on the cognitive view of signal attention and interpretation and the literature on social media trend and the literature on information perishability to hypothesize the differential moderating impacts of question price and content perishability. Consistent with the literature, we found the positive impacts of social media status and social endorsement on the sales of paid viewership. Extending past literature, we found an inverted-U impact of social feedback and the differential moderating effects of question price and content perishability on the sales of paid viewership.

Key words and phrases: Content monetization, paid Q&A, sales of paid viewership, content perishability