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A Model-Based Embedding Technique for Segmenting Customers

59 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2015 Last revised: 15 Dec 2017

Srikanth Jagabathula

New York University (NYU) - Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences

Lakshminarayanan Subramanian

New York University (NYU)

Ashwin Venkataraman

New York University (NYU) - Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Students

Date Written: January 20, 2017

Abstract

We consider the problem of segmenting a large population of customers into non-overlapping groups with similar preferences, using diverse preference observations such as purchases, ratings, clicks, etc. over subsets of items. We focus on the setting where the universe of items is large (ranging from thousands to millions) and unstructured (lacking well-defined attributes) and each customer provides observations for only a few items. These data characteristics limit the applicability of existing techniques in marketing and machine learning. To overcome these limitations, we propose a model-based embedding technique which takes the customer observations and a probabilistic model class generating the observations as inputs, and outputs an embedding --- a low-dimensional representation in Euclidean space --- for each customer. We then cluster the embeddings to obtain the segments. Theoretically, we derive precise necessary and sufficient conditions that guarantee asymptotic recovery of the true segments. Empirically, we demonstrate the speed and performance of our method in two real-world case studies: (a) upto 84% improvement in accuracy of new movie recommendations on the MovieLens dataset and (b) upto 8% improvement in the performance of similar product recommendations algorithm on an offline dataset at eBay. We show that our method outperforms standard latent class, empirical bayesian and demographic-based techniques.

Keywords: Segmentation, Estimation/statistical techniques, embedding, missing data

Suggested Citation

Jagabathula, Srikanth and Subramanian, Lakshminarayanan and Venkataraman, Ashwin, A Model-Based Embedding Technique for Segmenting Customers (January 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2696161 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2696161

Srikanth Jagabathula

New York University (NYU) - Department of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences ( email )

44 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Lakshminarayanan Subramanian

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Ashwin Venkataraman (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Students ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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