Accepted Papers

Debiasing Grid-based Product Search in E-commerce

Ruocheng Guo: Arizona State University; Xiaoting Zhao: Etsy; Adam Henderson: Etsy Inc.; Liangjie Hong: Etsy Inc.; Huan Liu: Arizona State University


The widespread usage of e-commerce websites in daily life and the resulting wealth of implicit feedback data form the foundation for systems that train and test e-commerce search ranking algorithms. While convenient to collect, implicit feedback data inherently suffers from various types of bias since user feedback is limited to products they are exposed to by existing search ranking algorithms and impacted by how the products are displayed. In the literature, a vast majority of existing methods have been proposed towards unbiased learning to rank for list-based web search scenarios. However, such methods cannot be directly adopted by e-commerce websites mainly for two reasons. First, in e-commerce websites, search engine results pages (SERPs) are displayed in 2-dimensional grids. The existing methods have not considered the difference in user behavior between list-based web search and grid-based product search. Second, there can be multiple types of implicit feedback (e.g., clicks and purchases) on e-commerce websites. We aim to utilize all types of implicit feedback as the supervision signals. In this work, we extend unbiased learning to rank to the world of e-commerce search via considering a grid-based product search scenario. We propose a novel framework which (1) forms the theoretical foundations to allow multiple types of implicit feedback in unbiased learning to rank and (2) incorporates the row skipping and slower decay click models to capture unique user behavior patterns in grid-based product search for inverse propensity scoring. Through extensive experiments on real-world e-commerce search log datasets across browsing devices and product taxonomies, we show that the proposed framework outperforms the state of the art unbiased learning to rank algorithms. These results also reveal important insights on how user behavior patterns vary in e-commerce SERPs across browsing devices and product taxonomies.

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