PIE: Personalized Interest Exploration for Large-Scale Recommender Systems

The ACM Web Conference (TheWebConf)


Recommender systems are increasingly successful in recommending personalized content to users. However, these systems often capitalize on popular content. There is also a continuous evolution of user interests that need to be captured, but there is no direct way to systematically explore users’ interests. This also tends to affect the overall quality of the recommendation pipeline as training data is generated from the candidates presented to the user. In this paper, we present a framework for exploration in large-scale recommender systems to address these challenges. It consists of three parts, first the user-creator exploration which focuses on identifying the best creators that users are interested in, second the online exploration framework and third a feed composition mechanism that balances explore and exploit to ensure optimal prevalence of exploratory videos. Our methodology can be easily integrated into an existing large-scale recommender system with minimal modifications. We also analyze the value of exploration by defining relevant metrics around user-creator connections and understanding how this helps the overall recommendation pipeline with strong online gains in creator and ecosystem value. In contrast to the regression on user engagement metrics generally seen while exploring, our method is able to achieve significant improvements of 3.50% in strong creator connections and 0.85% increase in novel creator connections. Moreover, our work has been deployed in production on Facebook Watch, a popular video discovery and sharing platform serving billions of users.

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