How To Measure Network Effects and API Updates: Enhancing Product Value and Efficiency


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 07, 2023

6 min read


How To Measure Network Effects and API Updates: Enhancing Product Value and Efficiency


Network effects play a crucial role in the success of various businesses, whether they are two-sided marketplaces or social networks. The value of a product increases as more users join and engage with it. Measuring network effects is essential for understanding the growth and impact of a product. Additionally, API updates can contribute to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a product. In this article, we will explore different metrics to measure network effects and discuss recent API updates that enhance functionality while reducing costs.

Acquisition-Related Metrics:

  • 1. Organic vs. paid users: One way to measure network effects is by analyzing the ratio of organic users to paid users. As a network grows and becomes more valuable, the percentage of organic users should increase. This indicates that users are naturally drawn to the network due to its expanding value. Companies like Facebook and Uber initially invest in paid acquisition to jumpstart growth but gradually reduce their reliance on it as the network gains critical mass.
  • 2. Sources of traffic: Another important metric is the source of traffic and transactions on the network. Valuable networks should not only attract more users but also become a destination where users spend more time. As the network grows, an increasing percentage of traffic should come from within the network itself. This signifies that users find the network more valuable over time.
  • 3. Time series of paid CAC: Customer acquisition cost (CAC) should ideally decrease over time as network effects accelerate. However, external factors such as market competitiveness and viral loops can influence this metric. Understanding the dynamics of paid CAC provides insights into the effectiveness of marketing strategies and the overall efficiency of user acquisition.

Competitor-Related Metrics:

  • 4. Prevalence of multi-tenanting: Multi-tenanting refers to users who actively use multiple similar services. By assessing the number of users who engage with competitors, businesses can identify ways to improve their product and reduce the temptation for users to switch. For example, ride-sharing companies introduced subscriptions and driver bonuses to boost retention and decrease reliance on competitors' services.
  • 5. Switching or multi-homing costs: The ease with which users can join a new network or service impacts their likelihood of switching. Additionally, the value users can derive from joining a different network influences their decision-making process. Lower switching costs and higher value propositions make it challenging for businesses to retain users in a competitive landscape.

Engagement-Related Metrics:

  • 6. User retention cohorts: Tracking user retention cohorts provides insights into the impact of network effects on user value. Newer cohorts that join when the network is larger and more useful tend to exhibit better retention rates compared to older cohorts. However, it is essential to consider that early adopters often drive better retention for the oldest customers, making it crucial to analyze retention patterns across various cohorts.
  • 7. Core action retention cohorts: Focusing on core action retention, rather than surface-level metrics like logins or app opens, highlights the true impact of network effects. A core action retention cohort assesses how well users continue to engage with the product's essential features over time, indicating the strength of network effects.
  • 8. Dollar retention & paid user retention cohorts: For subscription-based or paid products, dollar retention and paid user retention cohorts provide valuable insights. Newer cohorts should ideally retain better on a dollar basis, indicating the increasing value they derive from the network over time.
  • 9. Retention by location/geography: Businesses with local network effects should analyze retention rates across different markets. Comparing the retention of participants in the oldest markets to those in newer markets helps identify any discrepancies and areas for improvement.
  • 10. Power user curves: Power user curves measure user engagement over time. By analyzing whether users are becoming more engaged over time, businesses can assess the effectiveness of network effects in driving increased user activity and value.

Marketplace Metrics:

  • 11. Match rate: The match rate measures the success of connecting the two sides of a marketplace. For example, in ride-sharing, the driver utilization time reflects the percentage of time drivers spend with passengers versus being idle. Understanding match rates helps optimize the marketplace experience and ensure efficient utilization of resources.
  • 12. Market depth: Market depth refers to the availability of sufficient supply that meets users' needs. In consumer marketplaces, market depth directly impacts the user experience. For heterogeneous supply marketplaces, market depth determines the ease of finding a match. Recommendation algorithms play a crucial role in reducing search costs and improving market depth.
  • 13. Time to find a match: The time it takes for supply and demand to match is an important metric in assessing the efficiency of a marketplace. Reducing the time to find a match enhances user experience and satisfaction.
  • 14. Concentration or fragmentation of supply and demand: A healthy marketplace should avoid excessive concentration on either the supply or demand side. A diverse and balanced distribution of transactions ensures the sustainability and resilience of the business.

Economics-Related Metrics:

  • 15. Pricing power: Pricing power reflects the ability of a business to charge for its product. Over time, as network effects strengthen, businesses can increase prices with minimal churn. However, it is important to consider the traditional strategy of maximizing user base size before monetizing the second side of the market.
  • 16. Unit economics: Unit economics assesses the overall financial health of a business. Improved network effects often result in improved unit economics, including declining incentives, a lower share of paid users, and improved pricing power.

API Updates:

In addition to measuring network effects, recent API updates have contributed to enhancing product functionality and efficiency. Some notable updates include:

  • Function calling: The introduction of function calling allows developers to directly invoke specific functions within the API, enabling more dynamic and interactive interactions with the model. This enhances the versatility and usability of the API.
  • 16k context version: The release of a 16k context version of the GPT-3.5-turbo API provides users with a higher context capacity, enabling more comprehensive and detailed conversations with the model. This expansion offers greater flexibility and depth in utilizing the API.
  • Cost reduction: API updates have also focused on reducing costs for users. For example, the state-of-the-art embeddings model has seen a 75% cost reduction, making it more accessible and affordable. Cost reductions in input tokens for the GPT-3.5-turbo API have also been implemented, further enhancing cost-effectiveness.


Measuring network effects is crucial for understanding the growth and impact of a product. By analyzing various metrics related to acquisition, competition, engagement, marketplace dynamics, and economics, businesses can gain insights into their product's performance and potential areas for improvement. Additionally, recent API updates have provided enhanced functionality and cost-efficiency, further contributing to the success of network effects-driven products. To maximize the benefits of network effects, businesses should focus on improving user retention, optimizing marketplace dynamics, and leveraging the power of API updates to create value for users and drive sustainable growth.

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