Ron Berman

Ron Berman
  • Assistant Professor of Marketing

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    746 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: online marketing, marketing analytics, advertising effectiveness, startups and entrepreneurship, game theory, industrial organization

Links: Personal Website, CV, Twitter: @marketsensei

Overview

Ron Berman is an assistant professor of marketing at Wharton. He focuses his research on digital marketing and marketing analytics. Recently Ron has been investigating how firms  assess and optimize marketing effectiveness through experiments, how curation algorithms may create filter-bubbles on social media, and how descriptive analytics affects online firm performance. His research has been published in top marketing journals such as Marketing Science and the Journal of Marketing Research and he is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Marketing Research and Quantitative Marketing and Economics. Ron disseminates his research by teaching Digital Marketing courses in undergrad, MBA and Executive Education programs, and is often invited by market leading firms including Google, Facebook, and Wayfair to share and discuss his research.

Ron’s experience includes early-stage venture capital investing at Viola Ventures (formerly Carmel Ventures) and developing software for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Ron is an active advisor and investor, involved with startups such as Desti (travel planning, acquired by Nokia), Zimperium (cyber security), Abakus (advertising attribution, acquired by SAP), Peerspace (P2P venue marketplace), Netlify (serverless website deployment), Stackbit (content management), cauzal.ai (conversion optimization) and Honeycomb Insurance (commercial real-estate insurance).

Ron holds a PhD and MSc in Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of California, Berkeley, an MBA and MSc in Computer Science from Tel-Aviv University, and a BSc in Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

More information is available at Ron’s personal page: www.ron-berman.com

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Research

Links to my research and publications can be found on my personal website www.ron-berman.com.

  • Ron Berman and Christophe Van den Bulte (Forthcoming), False Discovery in A/B Testing.

    Abstract: We investigate what fraction of all significant results in website A/B testing are actually null effects, i.e., the false discovery rate (FDR). Our data consists of 4,964 effects from 2,766 experiments conducted on a commercial A/B testing platform. Using three different methods, we find that the FDR ranges between 28% and 37% for tests conducted at 10% significance, and between 18% and 25% for tests at 5% significance. These FDRs are substantially higher than the nominal Type I error rate, and stem from a high fraction of true-null effects, about 70%, rather than from low power. The two main implications are that experimenters should expect 1 in 5 interventions achieving significance at 5% confidence to be ineffective when deployed in the field, and that improvement is likely to come from generating better interventions to test rather than from increasing sample size.

  • Daniela Schmitt and Ron Berman, Suspenseful and Surprising Content.

    Abstract: Not much research has been done about the impact of content types on subscriber demand and long-term revenue. Answering this question empirically is hard because editors make an endogenous decision about the content they solicit and the allocation to the paid and free sections. One type of content, however, shows promise in answering this question - suspenseful and surprising content. Suspenseful events are events for which there is high variance in the uncertainty of their outcome. For example, a close match between two soccer teams. Surprising events are those where the realized outcome is very different than the expectation prior to the event. An example would be an upset victory by an underdog soccer team. Other important contexts where suspense and surprise are common include political debates, voting and elections. Because these events have inherent uncertainty, their realized outcome allows us to use randomness for empirical identification purposes when estimating demand and consumer preferences. Our research project focuses on empirically determining how content editors should treat surprising and suspenseful events - how much coverage should they allocate to them, and whether the content should be paid or free.

  • Qi Yu, Ron Berman, Eric Bradlow (Working), The Dark Side of Adding a Category: Will Existing Ones Pay the Price.

    Abstract: ‘‘More is better’’ has been a belief held by many retailers when they manage product assortments. We challenge this conventional wisdom by demonstrating that a retailer may face more price sensitive demand for existing products when expanding its assortments. To measure the effects of assortment expansion on price sensitivity, we exploit the state of Washington’s privatization of liquor sales in 2012 that generated exogenous variation in retailers’ assortments over time. We find that customers are on average more price sensitive when purchasing from other drink categories after a store started to carry liquor but its impact is heterogeneous. To understand the differential changes in the price sensitivity across product categories depending on whether they are complements or substitutes to the new one, we build a demand model that simultaneously estimates the degree of complementarity between product categories and the changes in price sensitivity upon assortment expansion. We find that the increase in the price sensitivity happens in product categories that are complements to the new one, and that these changes cannot be rationalized by alternative explanations, e.g., correlated preferences across product categories and changes in error variance. Based on the demand estimates, we conduct counterfactual simulations and show that the observed prices are consistent with retailers’ (biased) belief that the price sensitivity does not vary with assortment, which results in significant profit loss.

  • Qi Yu, Ron Berman, Eric Bradlow, Pricing Strategy Post Assortment Expansion.

  • Ron Berman, Leonid Pekelis, Aisling Scott, Christophe Van den Bulte, p-Hacking and False Discovery in A/B Testing.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • MKTG227 - MKTG AND ELECTRONIC COMM

    The effect of the Internet and related technologies on business and social institutions is more profound than that of any prior invention, including the printing press and the internal combustion engine. Furthermore, marketing is critical to the success of firms that will shape the consumption-led economies that are fueled by these technologies. MKTG 227 provides a research-based and framework-driven approach to succeeding in this environment, through a rigorous approach to understanding digital marketing and electronic commerce. The course is organized into two sections and utilizes relevant theory, empirical analysis, and practical examples, to develop the key learning points.Guest speakers will participate as well, as appropriate.

  • MKTG270 - DGTL SOCIAL & E-COM MKTG

    MKTG 270 explores the digital marketing environment from both a consumer and business perspective. The course provides an overview of various online business models and delves into digital advertising and social media marketing techniques and technologies. A mixture of case studies, guest speakers and assignments, including one that uses real advertising data, translates theory into practice. It is recommended that students enrolling in the course be comfortable using Excel and are knowledgeable in applying regression analysis techniques. Students who would prefer a less technical course may wish to take MKTG 227, Digital Marketing and Electronic Commerce, a half cu course offered by the department.

  • MKTG399 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

  • MKTG727 - MKTG AND ELECTRONIC COMM

    The effect of the Internet and related technologies on business and social institutions is more profound than that of any prior invention, including the printing press and the internal combustion engine. Furthermore, marketing plays a key role in shaping the modern consumption-led economies fueled by these technologies. MKTG 727 provides a research-based and framework-driven approach to understanding digital marketing and electronic commerce. The course is organized into two sections and utilizes relevant theory, empirical analysis, and practical examples, to develop the key learning points. Guest speakers will participate as well, as appropriate.

  • MKTG770 - DGTL SOCIAL & E-COM MKTG

    MKTG 770 explores the digital marketing environment from both a consumer and business perspective. The course provides an overview of various online business models and delves into digital advertising and social media marketing techniques and technologies. A mixture of case studies, guest speakers and assignments, including one that uses real advertising data, translates theory into practice. It is recommended that students enrolling in the course be comfortable using Excel and are knowledgeable in applying regression analysis techniques. Students who would prefer a less technical course may wish to take MKTG 727, Digital Marketing and Electronic Commerce, a half cu course offered by the department.

  • MKTG899 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.

  • MKTG955 - ECON/OR MODELS IN MKTG B

    This is a continuation of MKTG 954. This doctoral seminar reviews analytical models relevant to improving various aspects of marketing decisions such as new product launch, product line design, pricing strategy, advertising decisions, sales force organization and compensation, distribution channel design and promotion decisions. The primary focus will be on analytical models. The seminar will introduce the students to various types of analytical models used in research in marketing, including game theory models for competitive analysis, agency theory models for improving organization design and incentives within organizations, and optimization methods to improve decision making and resource allocation. The course will enable students to become familiar with applications of these techniques in the marketing literature and prepare the students to apply these and other analytical approaches to research problems that are of interest to the students.

  • MKTG972 - ADV TOPICS MKTG PART B

    Taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department, this course investigates advanced topics in marketing. It is organized in a way that allows students to 1) gain depth in important areas of research identified by faculty; 2) gain exposure to various faculty in marketing and their research values and styles; and 3) develop and advance their own research interests.

  • MKTG973 - RESEARCH SEM MKTG PART A

    This course is taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department. It is designed to expose Doctoral students to the cutting-edge research in marketing models in order to help them to define and advance their research interests. This course will offer: in-depth discussions on some important topics in marketing by experts in respective areas; tools, and methodologies required for conducting research in those areas; broad exposure to our faculty members and their proven research styles.

  • MKTG999 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    Requires written permission of instructor and the department graduate adviser.

Awards and Honors

  • Frank M. Bass Dissertation Paper Award, 2014
  • ISMS Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Competition, 2014

In the News

Activity

In the News

Is Free Shipping Sustainable for Retailers?

Free shipping is great for shoppers, but it’s becoming an increasingly significant cost for online sellers. Wharton’s Barbara Kahn and Ron Berman discuss the free-shipping conundrum faced by retailers large and small.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 12/10/2019
All News

Wharton Magazine

Data: Superstitious Investors, Mindfulness at Work, and More
Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020