Learning to bid and rank together in recommendation systems

January 06, 2024


Many Internet applications adopt real-time bidding mechanisms to ensure different services (types of content) are shown to the users through fair competitions. The service offering the highest bid price gets the content slot to present a list of items in its candidate pool. Through user interactions with the recommended items, the service obtains the desired engagement activities. We propose a contextual-bandit framework to jointly optimize the price to bid for the slot and the order to rank its candidates for a given service in this type of recommendation systems. Our method can take as input any feature that describes the user and the candidates, including the outputs of other machine learning models. We train reinforcement learning policies using deep neural networks, and compute top-K Gaussian propensity scores to exclude the variance in the gradients caused by randomness unrelated to the reward. This setup further facilitates us to automatically find accurate reward functions that trade off between budget spending and user engagements. In online A/B experiments on two major services of Facebook Home Feed, Groups You Should Join and Friend Requests, our method statistically significantly boosted the number of groups joined by 14.7%, the number of friend requests accepted by 7.0%, and the number of daily active Facebook users by about 1 million, against strong hand-tuned baselines that have been iterated in production over years.

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Written by

Geng Ji

Wentao Jiang

Jiang Li

Fahmid Morshed Fahid

Zhengxing Chen

Yinghua Li

Jun Xiao

Chongxi Bao

Zheqing (Bill) Zhu


Machine Learning

Research Topics

Ranking & Recommendations

Reinforcement Learning

Core Machine Learning

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