Real‑time Personalization using Embeddings for Search Ranking at Airbnb

author: Mihajlo Grbovic, Center for Data Analytics and Biomedical Informatics, Temple University
published: Nov. 23, 2018,   recorded: August 2018,   views: 748

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Search Ranking and Recommendations are fundamental problems of crucial interest to major Internet companies, including web search engines, content publishing websites and marketplaces. However, despite sharing some common characteristics a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist in this space. Given a large difference in content that needs to be ranked, personalized and recommended, each marketplace has a somewhat unique challenge. Correspondingly, at Airbnb, a short-term rental marketplace, search and recommendation problems are quite unique, being a two-sided marketplace in which one needs to optimize for host and guest preferences, in a world where a user rarely consumes the same item twice and one listing can accept only one guest for a certain set of dates. In this paper we describe Listing and User Embedding techniques we developed and deployed for purposes of Real-time Personalization in Search Ranking and Similar Listing Recommendations, two channels that drive 99% of conversions. The embedding models were specifically tailored for Airbnb marketplace, and are able to capture guest’s short-term and long-term interests, delivering effective home listing recommendations. We conducted rigorous offline testing of the embedding models, followed by successful online tests before fully deploying them into production.

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