Zheyin (Jane) Gu, Xuying Zhao

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

  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Management Information Systems

Our study is inspired by the rapid growth of consumer-to-consumer (C2C) media platforms such as TikTok. There are three key findings. First, we show that when content pieces 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 maximizing viewer traffic is smaller than the one maximizing total viewing time, which is further smaller than the one maximizing consumer surplus. As such, a platform that switches the strategic focus from short-term advertising revenue to long-term growth will benefit from extending the content length limit.

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