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Michael D. Smith - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Michael D. Smith

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Michael D. Smith's research uses economic and statistical techniques to analyze firm and consumer behavior in online markets.


Michael D. Smith is a Professor of Information Technology and Marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

He received his Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering (summa cum laude) and his Masters of Science in Telecommunications Science from the University of Maryland, and received his Ph.D. in Management Science and Information Technology from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Professor Smith's research uses economic and statistical techniques to analyze firm and consumer behavior in online markets — specifically markets for digital information and digital media products. His research in this area has been published in leading Management Science, Economics, and Marketing journals and covered by professional journals including The Harvard Business Review and The Sloan Management Review and press outlets including The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wired and Business Week.

Professor Smith has received several awards for his teaching and research including the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Research Award, the 2009 and 2004 Best Teacher Awards in Carnegie Mellon’s Masters of Information Systems Management program, the best published paper award runner-up for Information Systems Research in 2006, and best paper nominations at the International Conference on Information Systems and the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences. He was also recently selected as one of the top 100 “emerging engineering leaders in the United States” by the National Academy of Engineering. Professor Smith currently serves as a Senior Editor at Information Systems Research, and has previously served as an Associate Editor at Management Science and Management Information Systems Quarterly.

Prior to receiving his Ph.D., Professor Smith worked extensively in the telecommunications and information systems industries, first with GTE in their laboratories, telecommunications, and satellite business units and subsequently with Booz Allen and Hamilton as a member of their telecommunications client service team. While with GTE, Professor Smith was awarded a patent for research applying fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence techniques to the design and operation of telecommunications networks.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Higher Education Policy

Consumer Behavior

Digital Media Products

Media Appearances (5)

Big Cable Networks Like HLN Are Failing, and Media Companies Can’t Stop Their Decline

Variety  online


But the media companies will eventually have to find a way to dispose of lackluster cable properties. Some are being propped up with more sports telecasts. Others with devoted followings, like FX or TCM, are being transformed into curated hubs on streamers. At some point, many of the cable outlets will “become loss makers,” says EY’s Harrison. And the prognosis isn’t optimistic. “I think it’s entirely possible they die,” says Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College.

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As companies like Apple raise prices, streaming becomes more expensive for users

USA Today  online


The price hikes mean users must decide whether to pay more for the same service or let go of their subscriptions, said Michael D. Smith, a professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

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In a more competitive environment, where is streaming content headed?



“What Netflix did was really smart in terms of paying a bunch of showrunners and a bunch of talent to create original Netflix programming that then built Netflix’s brand,” said Michael Smith, a marketing professor at Carnegie Mellon.

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Disney releases the first looks at 'Disenchanted' and a live-action 'Little Mermaid'

NPR  online


Michael Smith, a professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, said the company's investment in Disney+ means it can choose to give one movie a streaming debut and the other a theatrical release.

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Welcome to TV’s Era of Peak Redundancy

Time Magazine  online


The long-term future of TV is shaping up to be a balance—if not a battle—between multinational corporations and singular artists, billion-dollar franchises and quirky pilots. But, happily, this period of unprecedented redundancy can’t last forever. Yes, in all likelihood, Netflix will continue to be the best at offering everything to everyone. “I don’t think that any other company [will be] able to overtake Netflix in sheer number of subscribers or expertise to be able to dig into the data and make plans,” says Rahul Telang, the co-author, with his Carnegie Mellon colleague Michael D. Smith, of Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment.”

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Michael D. Smith Publication Michael D. Smith Publication




Is Big Data Killing Creativity? | Michael Smith | TEDxHarvardCollege The abundant university: Remaking higher education for a digital world | Michael D. Smith



Industry Expertise (3)


Consumer Goods

Consumer Services

Accomplishments (3)

CAREER Research Award, National Science Foundation (professional)


Best Teacher Award, Carnegie Mellon’s Masters of Information Systems Management Program (professional)

2009, 2004

Runner-up, Best Published Paper Award, Information Systems Research (professional)


Education (3)

MIT Sloan School of Management:: Ph.D., Management Science and Information Technology

University of Maryland at College Park: M.S., Telecommunications

University of Maryland at College Park: B.S., Electrical Engineering

Articles (5)

Influence via ethos: On the persuasive power of reputation in deliberation online

Management Science

2023 Deliberation among individuals online plays a key role in shaping the opinions that drive votes, purchases, donations, and other critical offline behavior. Yet, the determinants of opinion change via persuasion in deliberation online remain largely unexplored. Our research examines the persuasive power of ethos—an individual’s “reputation”—using a seven-year panel of over a million debates from an argumentation platform containing explicit indicators of successful persuasion. We identify the causal effect of reputation on persuasion by constructing an instrument for reputation from a measure of past debate competition and by controlling for unstructured argument text using neural models of language in the double machine-learning framework. We find that an individual’s reputation significantly impacts their persuasion rate above and beyond the validity, strength, and presentation of their arguments.

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Internet Governance Through Site Shutdowns: The Impact of Shutting Down Two Major Commercial Sex Advertising Sites

Management Science

2022 In the two weeks after the U.S. Congress passed a package of anti-sex trafficking bills on March 21, 2018, two of the largest online commercial sex advertising platforms ceased operation. On March 23, Craigslist voluntarily removed their personals section, which had been dominated by advertisements for commercial sex. And on April 6, the Department of Justice seized Backpage.com, the largest online platform for commercial sex advertisements. Our research examines the impact of these shutdowns on a variety of important outcome variables, notably prostitution arrests and violence against women—variables that the prior literature has shown were impacted by the introduction of commercial sex advertising platforms. We employ a generalized difference-in-differences model by exploiting cross-city variation in the preshutdown usage of the two shuttered sites.

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Consumer Behavior in the Online Classroom: Using Video Analytics and Machine Learning to Understand the Consumption of Video Courseware

Journal of Marketing Research

2021 Video is one of the fastest growing online services offered to consumers. The rapid growth of online video consumption brings new opportunities for marketing executives and researchers to analyze consumer behavior. However, video also introduces new challenges. Specifically, analyzing unstructured video data presents formidable methodological challenges that limit the use of multimedia data to generate marketing insights. To address this challenge, the authors propose a novel video feature framework based on machine learning and computer vision techniques, which helps marketers predict and understand the consumption of online video from a content-based perspective.

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Bestseller lists and product discovery in the subscription-based market: Evidence from music streaming

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

2022 Our study analyzes the impact of hourly-updated bestseller lists on music discovery in a digital streaming platform to provide evidence of whether and why bestseller lists affect consumer decisions in the subscription-based market. We circumvent the problem of demand-popularity simultaneity by leveraging high-frequency data and a regression discontinuity design. We find that being added to the top 100 charts increases song discovery by 11–13%. Furthermore, a series of analyses suggest that the saliency effect, instead of observational learning, is more likely to drive this behavioral change among streaming users. Specifically, we find that a song's chart entrance increases repeat consumption, normative rank positions within the top 100 lists do not demonstrate significant discontinuity, and an artist or a song's prior popularity does not moderate this effect.

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I Want You Back: The Interplay Between Legal Availability and Movie Piracy

International Journal of the Economics of Business

2019 Although it is well known in the academic literature that anti-piracy measures can reduce the demand for pirated content, there are relatively few papers analyzing how legal availability impacts piracy. In this study, we answer two relevant research questions: (1) Does the availability of movies in legal digital channels reduce the demand for digital piracy? (2) Is the level of piracy prior to a movie’s release in a legal digital channel a reliable signal of legal demand after release? We answer these questions using a unique data set provided by a major motion picture studio. Our data contain 1520 catalog movies introduced to iTunes between April 2011 and April 2012. We find that iTunes availability leads to an 11.8% decrease in monthly piracy. We also find that pre-release piracy positively correlates with post-release electronic sell-through sales but not with video-on-demand sales.

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