#22: Pinterest Homefeed and Ads Ranking with Prabhat Agarwal and Aayush Mudgal

In episode 22 of Recsperts, we welcome Prabhat Agarwal, Senior ML Engineer, and Aayush Mudgal, Staff ML Engineer, both from Pinterest, to the show. Prabhat works on recommendations and search systems at Pinterest, leading representation learning efforts. Aayush is responsible for ads ranking and privacy-aware conversion modeling. We discuss user and content modeling, short- vs. long-term objectives, evaluation as well as multi-task learning and touch on counterfactual evaluation as well.

In our interview, Prabhat guides us through the journey of continuous improvements of Pinterest's Homefeed personalization starting with techniques such as gradient boosting over two-tower models to DCN and transformers. We discuss how to capture users' short- and long-term preferences through multiple embeddings and the role of candidate generators for content diversification. Prabhat shares some details about position debiasing and the challenges to facilitate exploration.
With Aayush we get the chance to dive into the specifics of ads ranking at Pinterest and he helps us to better understand how multifaceted ads can be. We learn more about the pain of having too many models and the Pinterest's efforts to consolidate the model landscape to improve infrastructural costs, maintainability, and efficiency. Aayush also shares some insights about exploration and corresponding randomization in the context of ads and how user behavior is very different between different kinds of ads.
Both guests highlight the role of counterfactual evaluation and its impact for faster experimentation.

Towards the end of the episode, we also touch a bit on learnings from last year's RecSys challenge.

Enjoy this enriching episode of RECSPERTS - Recommender Systems Experts.
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  • (00:00) - Introduction
  • (03:51) - Guest Introductions
  • (09:57) - Pinterest Introduction
  • (21:57) - Homefeed Personalization
  • (47:27) - Ads Ranking
  • (01:14:58) - RecSys Challenge 2023
  • (01:20:26) - Closing Remarks

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#22: Pinterest Homefeed and Ads Ranking with Prabhat Agarwal and Aayush Mudgal
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