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2017 William F. O’Dell Award

Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman have been selected as the recipients of the annual William F. O’Dell award for their article “What Makes Online Content Viral?” which appeared in the April 2012 (Volume 49, Issue 2) issue of the Journal of Marketing Research.

The award honors the JMR article published in 2012 that has made the most significant, long-term contribution to marketing theory, methodology, and/or practice. The O’Dell award committee—which comprises Joel Huber (chair), Pradeep Chintagunta, and Gary Lilien—applauds the nominees for excellent articles that were all worthy of the award.

Ultimately, the article was selected because of its impact on academia, practice, and policy as is demonstrated by the following statement from the committee:

"This paper begins with an exploration of the characteristics of articles in the New York Times that make them more likely to be emailed by Internet readers. The primary factors come from three kinds of sources. Computerized textual analysis measures article positivity and arousal; then trained evaluators assess anxiety, anger, sadness, awe, interest, surprise, and practical value; and finally, a web crawler determines the location on the page. The surprising empirical finding is that arousal, awe, and anger increase likelihood of transmission, while sadness does not, even when controlling for the other variables. Three lab studies then show that humor and anger have a positive impact, while sadness has a negative impact on transmission and that measured arousal mediates these three effects.

The article has generated its own viral cascade with more than 800 Google citations and strong press coverage over five years. The factors leading to this substantial long-term impact are largely the same as those exposed in their study of the New York Times most emailed list.  The topic of viral web-based activity is an important source of anxiety, fear, and awe as new ideas to explode into public awareness.  This article has caught a breaking wave of public and scholarly interest in the new interactive role of the Internet. In terms of methodological utility, the paper demonstrates the importance of, and the craft behind, simultaneously capturing a large number of potential influences that arise from very different sources. In terms of theoretical impact, a broad group of marketing and psychology journals, as well as newly emerging journals specializing in interactive marketing and information systems cites the article. Its long-term impact is one about which readers of Journal of Marketing Research can be very proud.

The award is presented annually at the Summer AMA Conference.

The finalists for the O’Dell award are as follows:



Previous Recipients


2016 Paul E. Green Award


​Navdeep S. Sahni has been selected as the recipient of the annual Paul E. Green Award for his article "Advertising Spillovers: Evidence from Online Field Experiments and Implications for Returns on Advertising," which appeared in the August 2016 issue (Vol. 53, No. 4) of Journal of Marketing Research.

The award honors the Journal of Marketing Research article published in 2016 that demonstrates the most potential to contribute significantly to the practice of marketing research. The committee overseeing the voting and selection process comprised Russ Winer (chair), Sachin Gupta, and John Deighton.

The award is presented annually at the Summer AMA Conference.

  • Navdeep S. Sahni is Associate Professor of Marketing and Lacob Family Faculty Scholar for 2016-2017, stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

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