Learning List-wise Representation in Reinforcement Learning for Ads Allocation with Multiple Auxiliary Tasks

With the recent prevalence of reinforcement learning (RL), there have been tremendous interests in utilizing RL for ads allocation in recommendation platforms (e.g., e-commerce and news feed sites). To achieve better allocation, the input of recent RL-based ads allocation methods is upgraded from point-wise single item to list-wise item arrangement. However, this also results in a high-dimensional space of state-action pairs, making it difficult to learn list-wise representations with good generalization ability. This further hinders the exploration of RL agents and causes poor sample efficiency. To address this problem, we propose a novel RL-based approach for ads allocation which learns better list-wise representations by leveraging task-specific signals on Meituan food delivery platform. Specifically, we propose three different auxiliary tasks based on reconstruction, prediction, and contrastive learning respectively according to prior domain knowledge on ads allocation. We conduct extensive experiments on Meituan food delivery platform to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed auxiliary tasks. Both offline and online experimental results show that the proposed method can learn better list-wise representations and achieve higher revenue for the platform compared to the state-of-the-art baselines.

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