SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE AUDIENCE ECONOMY: BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS AND CO-DEPENDENCE
Keywords:platformisation, partnerships, partner integrations, platform power, data intermediaries
AbstractSocial media platforms’ digital advertising revenues depend considerably on partnerships. Business partnerships are endemic and essential to the business of platforms, yet their role remains relatively underexplored in the literature on platformisation and platform power. This paper considers the significance of partnerships in the social media ecosystem to better understand how industry platforms, and the infrastructure they build, mediate and shape platform power and governance. We argue that partners contribute to ‘platformisation’ through their collective development of business-to-business platform infrastructures. Specifically, we examine how they have integrated social media platforms with what we call the audience economy – an exceptionally complex global and interconnected marketplace of intermediaries involved in the creation, commodification, analysis, and circulation of data audiences for purposes including but not limited to digital advertising and marketing. We determine which relationships exist, which are exclusive or shared, and identify key ecosystem partners. Further, we find that partners build and integrate extensive infrastructures for data-sourcing and media distribution, surfacing infrastructural and strategic sources and locations, or ‘nodes’, of power in this ecosystem. The empirical findings thus highlight the significance of partnerships and partner integrations and call attention to the powerful industry players and intermediaries that remain largely invisible to us as audiences.
How to Cite
van der Vlist, F., & Helmond, A. (2021). SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE AUDIENCE ECONOMY: BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS AND CO-DEPENDENCE. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12256