University of Southern California

Sha Yang
Title
The Fun of Being an Empirical Modeler
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As an empirical modeler in the field of marketing, I have always been fascinated with handling massive consumer behavioral data, building models based on economic theories, estimating model parameters to bridge data and theories, and ultimately helping firms derive valuable insights from these data/parameters to improve their business practice.

My earlier career has focused on studying consumer purchase behavior and media consumption habits. The collaboration with Miller Brewing Company started in 1998 allowed me to examine a series of marketing problems faced by packaged-goods companies, such as the role of consumption contexts in shaping consumer brand preference with a strong implication to advertising, and the role of quantity discount in determining consumer brand choice with a direct implication to pricing. My later collaboration with various media related companies such as CBS, Nielsen, McCann Ericson, and TNS gave me great opportunities to study issues such as consumer TV viewing behavior, consumer multi-media consumption, and impact of DVR technology on TV viewing. My recent visit to CSM, a joint venture of Chinese Central Television and TNS, exposed me to some exciting research issues in that market such as TV and PC two-screen media usage interaction.

More recently, I have become especially enthusiastic about a new line of research related to Internet marketing. Internet has brought many fundamental changes to the way consumers search and disseminate information. Since 2006, I have collaborated with several Google’s clients in US to help them better understand the mechanisms/analytics driving their paid search results and improve the return-on-investment for their paid advertising, by developing new algorithms and optimization tools. I have also been involved in several research projects with taobao.com, the largest online market maker and a subsidiary of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, to help design effective strategies for their paid-search advertising business and recommendation system. The last ten years also witnessed the rise of Internet as an increasingly important social media for consumers to obtain information from each other. Companies are yet exploring ways to utilize social network as an effective marketing tool. I have led a research team to examine several important social-network related issues, such as, buildup of dyadic trust relationship in the online social network, influence of online reviews on individual purchase behavior, consumer recommendation behavior within a social network, out of collaborations with companies in both US (e.g epinions.com, campusfood.com, groupon.com) and China (e.g. dianping.com, douban.com).

Marshall is a great place to be. There are many research centers that connect faculty with industry for collaboration. I just returned from a trip to China funded by our Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), and have benefited so much from it. We have world-class faculty and students to stimulate research ideas, and to co-produce a great teaching/learning environment and experience. I am so glad to become a member of Marshall!