The spillover of spotlight: Platform recommendation in the mobile app market

Chen Liang, Zhan Shi, T. S. Raghu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Many e-commerce platforms offer editor-curated recommendations to help consumers overcome the difficulty of discovering and evaluating new products. Whereas it is well recognized that the spotlight generated by editor recommendations has a positive effect on the sales of featured products, there is much less understanding in the literature on whether the spotlight influences the sales of other products that are not featured but are related to the featured products and how this externality varies depending on the specific relationship between the featured and nonfeatured products. By leveraging a novel data set collected from the mobile app market, this paper systematically investigates the spillover effect of platform-provided editor recommendations on three groups of related apps: apps by the same developer, apps with similar functionality, and the same apps marketed on a different platform. We distinguish the two mechanisms that potentially drive the externality: exposure spillover and quality endorsement spillover. We find that the overall spillover effect is positive for all three groups, but the underlying mechanisms are different. For the apps by the same developer and the same apps on a different platform, we find a significantly positive spillover of exposure, but the spillover of quality endorsement is weaker across platforms than within the same platform; for the functionally similar apps, the evidence on spillover of exposure is weaker than that for the other two groups, and the spillover of quality endorsement is statistically insignificant. In addition, we also find that the strength of the spillover effect depends on the salient characteristics of the featured apps such as price and user rating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1318
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Mobile app market
  • Platform recommendation
  • Product discovery
  • Spillover effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The spillover of spotlight: Platform recommendation in the mobile app market'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this