REVISION: How and When to Use the Political Cycle to Identify Advertising Effects
A central challenge in estimating the causal effect of TV advertising on demand is finding quasi-random variation in advertising. Political advertising in the US has been proposed as a plausible instrumental variable because political spending on television has skyrocketed in recent elections, topping $4 billion in 2016. We take a multi-category approach to assessing how and where this instrument is valid and useful. We characterize the conditions under which political cycles theoretically identify the causal effect of TV advertising on demand, highlight potential threats to the exclusion restriction and monotonicity condition, and suggest a specification to address the most serious concerns. To characterize "where' the approach might be most useful, we test the strength of the first stage of the political ad instrument, using both a single instrument and also optimal instruments obtained by machine learning. For the majority of commercial advertising categories, our findings ...
REVISION: Generalizable and Robust TV Advertising Effects
We provide generalizable and robust results on the causal sales effect of TV advertising based on the distribution of advertising elasticities for a large number of products (brands) in many categories. Such generalizable results provide a prior distribution that can improve the advertising decisions made by firms and the analysis and recommendations of anti-trust and public policy makers. A single case study cannot provide generalizable results, and hence the marketing literature provides several meta-analyses based on published case studies of advertising effects. However, publication bias results if the research or review process systematically rejects estimates of small, statistically insignificant, or “unexpected” advertising elasticities. Consequently, if there is publication bias, the results of a meta-analysis will not reflect the true population distribution of advertising effects. To provide generalizable results, we base our analysis on a large number of products and ...
REVISION: Promoting Wellness or Waste? Evidence from Antidepressant Advertising
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs is controversial. It is taken as given by many policy makers that DTCA wastefully drives inappropriate patients to treatment, distorts patients to expensive brands over generics and therefore wastefully increases health care costs. Alternatively, advertising has the potential to fill an information gap that causes treatably unwell patients to go untreated. I study this dynamic in the context of antidepressant advertising. Depression has large documented economic costs in terms of labor outcomes. If DTCA fills a legitimate information gap, it will lead to improved labor outcomes. Leveraging plausibly exogenous variation in advertising driven by the borders of television markets, I find that antidepressant advertising leads to new initiations of treatment followed by reductions in absenteeism. The wage benefit of a 10% increase in advertising is about $770 million. This labor supply effect co-occurs at the individual level ...
REVISION: Valuing Brand Collaboration: Evidence From a Natural Experiment
We study how brand impacts consumer demand in the context of museum memberships in a U.S. metropolitan city. Over the course of our sample, one major museum with a highly recognized brand closed. During the closure, it sequentially co-branded with two established local museums. The closure and collaboration events, combined with individual panel data on museum memberships, allow us to measure how these changes in brand affect demand. Collaboration with the closed museum lifts demand for the partner museum; however, this aggregate increase masks two counter-acting forces. First, customers with no history of buying membership from either museum enter the market, consistent with the prominent brand providing a signal of vertical quality. Second, a sub-group of customers who previously purchased from either or both of the museums display decreased demand. This is consistent with a model of brand providing information about horizontal match value, with decreasing demand from the ...
REVISION: Advertising in Health Insurance Markets
The effects of television advertising in the market for health insurance are of distinct interest to both firms and regulators. Regulators are concerned about firms potentially using ads to "cream skim," or attract an advantageous risk pool, as well as the potential for firms to use misinformation to take advantage of the elderly. Firms are interested in using advertising to acquire potentially highly profitable seniors. Meanwhile, health insurance is a useful setting to study the mechanisms through which advertising could work. Using the discontinuity in advertising exposure created by the borders of television markets, this study estimates the effects of advertising on consumer choice in health insurance. Television advertising has a small effect on brand enrollments, making advertising a relatively expensive means of acquiring customers. Heterogeneous effects point to advertising being more effective in less healthy counties, which runs opposite to the concern of cream skimming. ...
REVISION: Informational Shocks, Off-Label Prescribing and the Effects of Physician Detailing
The relationship between pharmaceutical detailing and prescriptions for non FDA-approved (off-label) use has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny, with more than $12 billion in regulatory settlements for off-label promotion since 2004. Using the case of AstraZeneca's anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel, I study the extent to which off-label prescriptions are caused by detailing. Using a physician panel that connects detailing exposure to medical charts, I exploit within-physician variation to identify detailing effects. I find the effect of detailing on off-label prescriptions is small in both absolute and relative terms. Detailing on net tilts the prescribing distribution toward on-label.
REVISION: Positive Spillovers and Free Riding in Advertising of Prescription Pharmaceuticals: The Case of Antidepressants
Exploiting the discontinuity in advertising along the borders of television markets, I estimate that television advertising of prescription antidepressants exhibits significant positive spillovers on rivals' demand. I apply this identification in a demand model, where estimated parameters indicate significant and persistent spillovers driven by market expansion. Using the demand estimates to calibrate a stylized supply model, I explore the consequences of the positive spillovers on firm advertising choice. Compared with a competitive benchmark in which firms optimally free ride, simulations suggest a category-wide advertising cooperative would produce a significant increase in total advertising.
REVISION: Estimating the Cost of Strategic Entry Delay in Pharmaceuticals: The Case of Ambien CR
With the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, the FDA included an unchallengeable exclusivity period for newly approved drugs, independent of patents. This potentially generates an incentive for firms to strategically delay the introduction of new versions (reformulations) of drugs until just before patent expiration of the original drug. This way the reformulated drug competes mainly with newly introduced generics of the original drug. If instead, the reformulated drug was to be introduced well before the original drug’s patent expires, the reformulated drug would compete only with the original drug. While the pattern of strategic delay is well documented in the literature, its effects on consumers and firms are not. Reformulations may increase utility through improved efficacy and through fewer doses per day or a more even molecule decay rate. However, as suggested in the press and literature, it is also possible that the adoption of reformulated products is mostly the result of advertising ...