Influence of Neighborhood on the Preference of an Item in eCommerce Search

Surfacing a ranked list of items for a search query to help buyers discover inventory and make purchase decisions is a critical problem in eCommerce search. Typically, items are independently predicted with a probability of sale with respect to a given search query. But in a dynamic marketplace like eBay, even for a single product, there are various different factors distinguishing one item from another which can influence the purchase decision for the user. Users have to make a purchase decision by considering all of these options. Majority of the existing learning to rank algorithms model the relative relevance between labeled items only at the loss functions like pairwise or list-wise losses. But they are limited to point-wise scoring functions where items are ranked independently based on the features of the item itself. In this paper, we study the influence of an item's neighborhood to its purchase decision. Here, we consider the neighborhood as the items ranked above and below the current item in search results. By adding delta features comparing items within a neighborhood and learning a ranking model, we are able to experimentally show that the new ranker with delta features outperforms our baseline ranker in terms of Mean Reciprocal Rank (MRR). The ranking models with proposed delta features result in $3-5\%$ improvement in MRR over the baseline model. We also study impact of different sizes for neighborhood. Experimental results show that neighborhood size $3$ perform the best based on MRR with an improvement of $4-5\%$ over the baseline model.

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