February 24th, 2010 → 2:37 pm @ Josh Andrews
On Monday, we published a chart listing the top 20 streams on the Public Radio Player. As mentioned in that post, we are just beginning to sort through the analytics on how public radio fans are using the iPhone app. We were excited about the data and wanted to share some of it right away. Without reading too much into the specifics, I made some initial inferences based on the results. Well, it turns out I missed one very important piece of the puzzle.
I opened the Public Radio Player yesterday and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The opening page of the app lists a group of featured live streams. That list is almost identical to the Top 20 rankings published on Monday. There is such a large overlap that one must conclude that the presence of a station on the featured list is a major influence on the usage of their stream. That is, the Public Radio Player app is both cause and effect of the top station rankings.
I’m not sure if we should categorize my mistake as a case of reflexivity, the observer effect, the Hawthorne effect, or simply a hall of mirrors. I think I had my nose too deep in spreadsheets of data to see what was right in front of me. I goofed – and I apologize for the error.
But the influence of the featured stations list is an important finding. We initially included a featured stations page as a way to improve the load time of the app and to provide a jumping off point for new users (a list of 400 stations and 1000 on-demand options can be a lot to digest). The role of the featured stations list on the streaming choices of users is larger than we expected. We are making some immediate changes to rotate more stations into the featured list and introduce public radio fans to a greater variety of live streams when opening the app. We will continue to monitor the top streams and watch how the featured list influences stream performance over time.
Again, apologies for the omission of these details in our last post.