Online Model Evaluation in a Large-Scale Computational Advertising Platform

by   Shahriar Shariat, et al.

Online media provides opportunities for marketers through which they can deliver effective brand messages to a wide range of audiences. Advertising technology platforms enable advertisers to reach their target audience by delivering ad impressions to online users in real time. In order to identify the best marketing message for a user and to purchase impressions at the right price, we rely heavily on bid prediction and optimization models. Even though the bid prediction models are well studied in the literature, the equally important subject of model evaluation is usually overlooked. Effective and reliable evaluation of an online bidding model is crucial for making faster model improvements as well as for utilizing the marketing budgets more efficiently. In this paper, we present an experimentation framework for bid prediction models where our focus is on the practical aspects of model evaluation. Specifically, we outline the unique challenges we encounter in our platform due to a variety of factors such as heterogeneous goal definitions, varying budget requirements across different campaigns, high seasonality and the auction-based environment for inventory purchasing. Then, we introduce return on investment (ROI) as a unified model performance (i.e., success) metric and explain its merits over more traditional metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) or conversion rate (CVR). Most importantly, we discuss commonly used evaluation and metric summarization approaches in detail and propose a more accurate method for online evaluation of new experimental models against the baseline. Our meta-analysis-based approach addresses various shortcomings of other methods and yields statistically robust conclusions that allow us to conclude experiments more quickly in a reliable manner. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our evaluation strategy on real campaign data through some experiments.


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