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Museums & Mobile: stats and analytics

I recently took part in the 6th iteration of the Museums & Mobile online conference, in a session entitled Usage data for mobile: what can it tell us? with Seb Chan from the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Elena Villaespesa from the Tate, London.

 of the Engaging Museums blog has written a great recap of the whole conference, so I’m going to focus on my session.

A look at how users engage with Tate mobile apps

After Seb’s introduction, Elena gave a comprehensive overview of some of the Tate’s 17 (!) apps, showing download stats (in the app store) and usage analytics (using Flurry) and stepping through many of the ways you can slice the Flurry data.


A look at how users engage with Tate mobile apps from Elena Villaespesa

There were two things that really interested me (beyond how cool the Magic Tate Ball app is). First: that despite 17 apps and something like 300,000 downloads, the Tate had raised £15,000, reminding me that museums don’t create mobile experiences for the revenue. Second: that the in the Tate Britain QuizTrail app, although designed for an in gallery experience, almost everyone use played it, did so outside the gallery. With the take home that you can never be sure of your mobile audience’s context, unless you measure it.

Mobile analytics at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

My presentation focused on how the MCA has reacted to what we’ve learnt from the recent addition of Flurry analytics to the MCA’s Android/iOS artwork interpretation app MCA Insight. In particular what changes we made to the app, and what other experiences we’ve created, in response to what we’ve discovered about how people engage with the MCA on their mobiles. MCA Insight utilises a web-based CMS which is built upon Tristan Interactive‘s Autour platform, which means it’s straightforward for us to change how it works, and what content is available to users, without requiring an app update. This is an important consideration when building apps (vs mobile websites which are inherently web-CMS driven), as I believe that creating new iterations of your products that meet measurable audience needs is crucial to their success.

I also talked other sources for data and how we’ve used downloads, app and mobile web usage, shopper track physical visitation tracking hardware and MCA WiFi usage to create a more holistic view of how people interact with the Museum and each other. One of the key projects that the MCA has recently launched in response to these findings is MCA Now (details below).


Museum app analytics and how to use them – Keir Winesmith @ Museums and Mobile 6 from Keir Winesmith

MCA Now

MCA Now is the real-time story of the MCA, seen through the eyes of the Museum’s staff, vistors and collaborators. It’s the Museum’s social pulse. Smartphone devices have been provided to in-gallery staff, event and public program organisers, curators, conservators, preparators and the digital media team. MCA staff post from inside the galleries and from behind-the-scenes, as things happen. We also share and celebrate visitor’s stories, experiences and images.

A stream of Instagram photos, some by MCA staff, but mostly from visitors, is displayed on screens on each floor of the Museum. Below is an image of one of Summer Digital Interns Rory McKay who worked on the MCA Now project. Rory coded the system that pulls images from Instagram and displays them on screens in the gallery. It works by pulling images from the MCA_Australia_Now account using the Instragram API. It also pulls images “liked” by this account and then adds a selection of the latest images from both sets into a pack of images which it then shuffles. The screens display 8 images at a time, with another 8 that slide into view randomly over time. The MCA Now screen appears intermittently alongside other Museum messaging regarding exhibitions and events.

If you look closely, I’ve photographed Rory in front of an image that someone posted of him on http://instagram.com/MCA_Australia_Now earlier in day. It’s meta Rory.

Rory in front the MCA Now screensWe encourage visitors to use the hashtag #MCANow on Twitter and Instagram to get involved. Judging by the uptake, our visitors are very keen to engage with the Museum in these forums.