Designing Layouts for Sequential Experiences: Application to Cultural Institutions
Speaker: Ali Aouad (London Business School)
Date: 10/11/2023, Friday
Time : 13:30-14:30
This is an online seminar. To obtain event detail please send a message to department.
Abstract: A fundamental issue faced by experience providers—ranging from retailing to culture—is to display a collection of items for physical or digital interactions. The arrangement of the exhibits in different locations, which we call the layout, affects the visitors’ choices over time and space, thereby driving their engagement with the offered experience. In a collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum (Netherlands), we develop a predict-then-optimize framework to inform such operational decisions and experiment with digital interventions. First, we propose a sequential choice model, called Pathway MNL, that represents visitor activity as a sequence of conditional logit outcomes influenced by the layout. Estimation on large-scale multimedia log data uncovers significant relationships between visitors’ choices and layout distances, artwork characteristics, and other contextual factors. We test the predictive accuracy of our model under modified layouts from natural experiments. Using a new instrumental variable approach, we estimate the effect of congestion on visitors’ paths. Counter-intuitively, in response to more congestion, visitors interact with more exhibits, including less prominent artworks. Second, we formulate the layout optimization problem, where the goal is to assign artworks to different locations to maximize the expected length of visitors’ paths. We establish a strong inapproximability result for this new optimization setting. Our simulations suggest that optimized layouts might significantly lift visitors’ engagement by improving attractiveness and retention. Finally, we conduct controlled field experiments where we modify the multimedia offering. We gain insights into designing of “route recommendations” that balance visitor engagement with congestion management. Based on two research papers jointly with Abhishek Deshmane (Georgia Tech) and Victor Martínez-de-Albeniz (IESE)
Bio: Ali Aouad is an Assistant Professor at London Business School. His research interests are in the interface of algorithm design under uncertainty and the operations of digital platforms, ranging from marketplaces to cultural institutions. Before joining LBS, he was an applied scientist at Uber Technology and he received a Ph.D. from the Operations Research Center at MIT in 2017. His work was recognized by several awards, including the 2022 Second Prize of INFORMS Junior Faculty Interest Group, the 2021 LBS Junior Faculty Research Award, and a selection for funding by the European Research Council’s 2022 Starting Grant scheme.