Differential Games of Competition in Online Content Diffusion

Francesco De Pellegrini, Alexandre Reiffers, Eitan Altman

Access to online contents represents a large share of the Internet traffic. Most such contents are multimedia items which are user-generated, i.e., posted online by the contents' owners. In this paper we focus on how those who provide contents can leverage online platforms in order to profit from their large base of potential viewers. Actually, platforms like Vimeo or YouTube provide tools to accelerate the dissemination of contents, i.e., recommendation lists and other re-ranking mechanisms. Hence, the popularity of a content can be increased by paying a cost for advertisement: doing so, it will appear with some priority in the recommendation lists and will be accessed more frequently by the platform users. Ultimately, such acceleration mechanism engenders a competition among online contents to gain popularity. In this context, our focus is on the structure of the acceleration strategies which a content provider should use in order to optimally promote a content given a certain daily budget. Such a best response indeed depends on the strategies adopted by competing content providers. Also, it is a function of the potential popularity of a content and the fee paid for the platform advertisement service. We formulate the problem as a differential game and we solve it for the infinite horizon case by deriving the structure of certain Nash equilibria of the game.

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