Truncation-Free Matching System for Display Advertising at Alibaba

18 Feb 2021  ·  Jin Li, Jie Liu, Shangzhou Li, Yao Xu, Ran Cao, Qi Li, Biye Jiang, Guan Wang, Han Zhu, Kun Gai, Xiaoqiang Zhu ·

Matching module plays a critical role in display advertising systems. Without query from user, it is challenging for system to match user traffic and ads suitably. System packs up a group of users with common properties such as the same gender or similar shopping interests into a crowd. Here term crowd can be viewed as a tag over users. Then advertisers bid for different crowds and deliver their ads to those targeted users. Matching module in most industrial display advertising systems follows a two-stage paradigm. When receiving a user request, matching system (i) finds the crowds that the user belongs to; (ii) retrieves all ads that have targeted those crowds. However, in applications such as display advertising at Alibaba, with very large volumes of crowds and ads, both stages of matching have to truncate the long-tailed parts for online serving, under limited latency. That's to say, not all ads have the chance to participate in online matching. This results in sub-optimal result for both advertising performance and platform revenue. In this paper, we study the truncation problem and propose a Truncation Free Matching System (TFMS). The basic idea is to decouple the matching computation from the online pipeline. Instead of executing the two-stage matching when user visits, TFMS utilizes a near-line truncation-free matching to pre-calculate and store those top valuable ads for each user. Then the online pipeline just needs to fetch the pre-stored ads as matching results. In this way, we can jump out of online system's latency and computation cost limitations, and leverage flexible computation resource to finish the user-ad matching. TFMS has been deployed in our productive system since 2019, bringing (i) more than 50% improvement of impressions for advertisers who encountered truncation before, (ii) 9.4% Revenue Per Mile gain, which is significant enough for the business.

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