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Pairwise Ranking Losses of Click-Through Rates Prediction for Welfare Maximization in Ad Auctions
Boxiang Lyu · Zhe Feng · Zach Robertson · Sanmi Koyejo

Thu Jul 27 04:30 PM -- 06:00 PM (PDT) @ Exhibit Hall 1 #205
We study the design of loss functions for click-through rates (CTR) to optimize (social) welfare in advertising auctions. Existing works either only focus on CTR predictions without consideration of business objectives (e.g., welfare) in auctions or assume that the distribution over the participants' expected cost-per-impression (eCPM) is known a priori, then use various additional assumptions on the parametric form of the distribution to derive loss functions for predicting CTRs. In this work, we bring back the welfare objectives of ad auctions into CTR predictions and propose a novel weighted rankloss to train the CTR model. Compared to existing literature, our approach provides a provable guarantee on welfare but without assumptions on the eCPMs' distribution while also avoiding the intractability of naively applying existing learning-to-rank methods. Further, we propose a theoretically justifiable technique for calibrating the losses using labels generated from a teacher network, only assuming that the teacher network has bounded $\ell_2$ generalization error. Finally, we demonstrate the advantages of the proposed loss on synthetic and real-world data.

Author Information

Boxiang Lyu (University of Chicago Booth School of Business)
Zhe Feng (Google Research)
Zach Robertson (Stanford University)
Sanmi Koyejo (Stanford University)

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