Unbiased Identification of Broadly Appealing Content Using a Pure Exploration Infinitely-Armed Bandit StrategyJust Accepted

ACM Transactions on Recommender Systems(2023)

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Podcasting is an increasingly popular medium for entertainment and discourse around the world, with tens of thousands of new podcasts released on a monthly basis. We consider the problem of identifying from these newly-released podcasts those with the largest potential audiences so they can be considered for personalized recommendation to users. We first study and then discard a supervised approach due to the inadequacy of either content or consumption features for this task, and instead propose a novel non-contextual bandit algorithm in the fixed-budget infinitely-armed pure-exploration setting. We demonstrate that our algorithm is well-suited to the best-arm identification task for a broad class of arm reservoir distributions, out-competing a large number of state-of-the-art algorithms. We then apply the algorithm to identifying podcasts with broad appeal in a simulated study, and show that it efficiently sorts podcasts into groups by increasing appeal while avoiding the popularity bias inherent in supervised approaches. Finally, we study a setting in which users are more likely to stream more-streamed podcasts independent of their general appeal and find that our proposed algorithm is robust to this type of popularity bias.
multi-armed bandits,pure exploration,podcasts,recommender systems,sequential decision making,popularity bias,large scale randomized trials
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