A Thematic Exploration of Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing: Research Evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an Agenda for Future Inquiry

Cait Lamberton & Andrew T. Stephen
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Key Takeaways

​There has been a huge increase in the amount of research in digital, social media, and mobile marketing research since 2000.

Much of this work has been highly impactful and at the cutting edge of our understanding of how customers and marketers use digital, social media, and mobile technologies.

The rapid pace of change in technologies and in marketing practice in this area makes it very important for academics and practitioners to work together collaboratively to address new challenges in digital/social media/mobile marketing.

​​Article Snapshot​s: Executive Summaries from the AMA/MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing

We looked at the last 15 years of research in marketing related to digital, social media, and mobile channels to identify what we know versus what we need to know more about. This review reveals many instances in which marketing academia and practice both have and have not been aligned, presenting many opportunities for further collaboration, growth, and knowledge.





Over the past 15 years, digital media platforms have revolutionized marketing, offering new ways to reach, inform, engage, sell to, learn about, and provide service to customers. As a means of taking stock of academic work’s ability to contribute to this revolution, this article tracks the changes in scholarly researchers’ perspectives on three major digital, social media, and mobile (DSMM) marketing themes from 2000 to 2015. We first use keyword counts from the premier general marketing journals to gain a macro-level view of the shifting importance of various DSMM topics since 2000. We then identify key themes emerging in five-year time frames during this period: (1) DSMM as a facilitator of individual expression, (2) DSMM as decision support tool, and (3) DSMM as a market intelligence source. In both academic research to date and corresponding practitioner discussion, there is much to appreciate. However, there are also several shortcomings of extant research that have limited its relevance and created points of disconnect between academia and practice. Finally, in light of this, we advance an agenda for future research based on emerging research topics.


"A Thematic Exploration of Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing: Research Evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an Agenda for Future Inquiry," by Cait Lamberton & Andrew T. Stephen


Questions for the Classroom

  • What do you think are important issues faced by marketers when dealing with technological change?

  • How have your habits as a user of digital media, including social media, changed over time?

  • What do you think will be important for marketers to think about for the future, 5-10 years from now, with respect to digital/social media/mobile marketing approaches and channels?    


Article Citation

Cait Lamberton and Andrew T. Stephen (2016), "A Thematic Exploration of Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing: Research Evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an Agenda for Future Inquiry," Journal of Marketing, 80 (6), pp. 146-172.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.15.0415 


Cait Lamberton is Ben Fryrear Chair and Associate Professor of Marketing, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh (e-mail: clamberton@katz.pitt.edu).


Andrew T. Stephen is L’Oréal Professor of Marketing, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (e-mail: andrew.stephen@sbs.ox.ac.uk).


The AMA / MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing
Volume 80, Issue 6, November 2016

V. Kumar, Kevin Lane Keller, & Katherine N. Lemon

Christine Moorman and George S. Day

V. Kumar and Werner Reinartz

Katherine N. Lemon and Peter C. Verhoef

Michel Wedel and P.K. Kannan

Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller

Cait Lamberton and Andrew T. Stephen

Dominique M. Hanssens and Koen H. Pauwels


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Cait Lamberton & Andrew T. Stephen
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