Economics & Strategy Talk Series: John List presents The Voltage Effect and the Scalability of Business Experiments

The next guest in our Economics and Strategy Talk series is John A. List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. His presentation is entitled The Voltage Effect and the Scalability of Business Experiments. This online event will be held on May 6th from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm CT.

“Scale” is probably a term you’ve heard before—a buzzword amongst Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and tech start-up circles. But at its core, “to scale” simply means to achieve a desired outcome when you move from a small group—of customers, students, or citizens—to a much larger one. And it’s not just for start-ups. Scaling ideas underpins all social and technological progress, since, as List says, “the innovations that change the world are those that reach the largest number of people.”

In his recent book The Voltage Effect, List reveals why some ideas take off (or scale) and why others fall flat using a mix of original research and real-world anecdotes from working with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Tinder. His ideas are brought to life in this engaging presentation with actionable, science-backed take-aways for leaders, teams, and organizations in all sectors looking to take their ideas to the next level.

Tickets for this free event are available through the registration & RSVP link below.

Presenter Biography

John A. List is the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. He received his B.S. in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wyoming. List joined the UChicago faculty in 2005, and served as Chairman of the Department of Economics from 2012-2018. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, he was a professor at the University of Central Florida, University of Arizona, and University of Maryland.

List was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 2015. He is currently the Visiting Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He received the Arrow Prize for Senior Economists in 2008, the Kenneth Galbraith Award in 2010, the Yrjo Jahnsson Lecture Prize in 2012, the Klein Lecture Prize in 2016, and the Hartsook Growing Philanthropy Award in 2017. He received an honorary doctorate from Tilburg University in 2014 and from the University of Ottawa in 2017. John was also named a Top 50 Innovator in the Non-Profit Times for 2015 and 2016 for his work on charitable giving. He served in the White House on the Council of Economic Advisers from 2002-2003 and is a Research Associate at the NBER, a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), a University Fellow at Resources for the Future (RFF), and a University Fellow at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

His research focuses on questions in microeconomics, with a particular emphasis on using field experiments to address both positive and normative issues. For decades his field experimental research has focused on issues related to the inner-workings of markets, the effects of various incentives schemes on market equilibria and allocations, how behavioral economics can augment the standard economic model, on early childhood education and interventions, and most recently on the gender earnings gap in the gig economy (using evidence from rideshare drivers).

His research includes over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and several published books, including the 2013 international best-seller, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (with Uri Gneezy).

Economics & Strategy Talk Series: Pandora & Sensitivity to Advertisement, David Reiley

The next speaker in our Economics and Strategy Talk series was David Reiley, Distinguished Scientist at SiriusXM Pandora, who presented his research related to consumer demand and sensitivity to paid advertisements. This event was held on Zoom on February 25th from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm CT.

A randomized experiment with almost 35 million Pandora listeners enables us to measure the sensitivity of consumers to advertising, an important topic of study in the era of ad-supported digital content provision. The experiment randomized listeners into nine treatment groups, each of which received a different level of audio advertising interrupting their music listening, with the highest treatment group receiving more than twice as many ads as the lowest treatment group. By keeping consistent treatment assignment for 21 months, we can see that the long-term effects of a change in “ad load,” or number of ads per hour, take over a year to be fully realized. We estimate a demand curve that is strikingly linear, with the number of hours listened decreasing linearly in the number of ads per hour (also known as the price of ad-supported listening). We also show the negative impact on the number of days listened and on the probability of listening at all in the final month. Using an experimental design that separately varies the number of commercial interruptions per hour and the number of ads per commercial interruption, we find that neither makes much difference to listeners beyond their impact on the total number of ads per hour. Lastly, we find that increased ad load causes a significant increase in the number of paid ad-free subscriptions to Pandora, particularly among older listeners.

Presenter Biography

David Reiley, Distinguished Scientist at SiriusXM Pandora has a PhD in Economics from MIT and a A.B. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton. He is an economist in the advertising-science group at Pandora and an Adjunct Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information. He previously spent more than seven years at Google and Yahoo! Research, primarily working on experiments to measure the effects of online advertising. He started his career as an economics professor at Vanderbilt University and at the University of Arizona.

David is passionate about the use of field experiments in economics and the social sciences and has spent his career promoting their use. Before his dissertation at MIT in 1996, field experiments were quite rare in economics. Now there are dozens of people regularly performing field experiments to learn about economic and social behavior. Most people still consider economics to be an observational rather than an experimental science, but that has been changing significantly.

Episode 026: Kelly Kester, Cardinal Health

In this episode we had the good fortune to speak with DePaul Alumnus, Kelly Kester. Kelly is a Senior Manager – Corporate Strategy & Business Development at Cardinal Health.

She discusses her unique academic and professional journey and how, in her current strategically focused role, she helps Cardinal use vertical strategies to offer both value to their customers & provide safe harbor from a highly competitive core business.