Talk Bursts: The Role of Spikes in Prerelease Word-of-Mouth Dynamics

Sarah Gelper*, Renana Peres, Jehoshua Eliashberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Before their launch, many new products generate word of mouth (WOM) on social media. Such WOM typically increases toward the release date and contains sudden spikes. These spikes capture manifestations of peak consumer attention and are therefore of managerial importance, yet they have not received research attention. This article is the first to provide a comprehensive descriptive treatment of WOM spikes. The authors propose a conceptual framework to present spikes as a standalone WOM dimension and explain their emergence. They employ a robust filtering procedure to detect spikes and apply it in a data set of 90,000 prerelease online WOM messages on 157 Hollywood movies. The results indicate that prerelease spikes are widely prevalent: While some of them are event-driven, emerging in response to firm-created communications (e.g., trailer release), they are far more likely to emerge spontaneously. Content analysis reveals that WOM in spikes is more positive in sentiment and is more likely to deal with factual details than is WOM outside spikes. Prerelease WOM spikes also contribute significantly to the predictability of future product sales.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)801-817
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Marketing Association 2018.


  • bursts
  • content analysis
  • prerelease word of mouth
  • robust time series analysis
  • user-generated content


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