Heterogeneous Causal Learning for Effectiveness Optimization in User Marketing


    User marketing is a key focus of consumer-based internet companies. Learning algorithms are effective to optimize marketing campaigns which increase user engagement, and facilitates cross-marketing to related products. By attracting users with rewards, marketing methods are effective to boost user activity in the desired products. Rewards incur significant cost that can be off-set by increase in future revenue. Most methodologies rely on churn predictions to prevent losing users to make marketing decisions, which cannot capture up-lift across counterfactual outcomes with business metrics. Other predictive models are capable of estimating heterogeneous treatment effects, but fail to capture the balance of cost versus benefit. We propose a treatment effect optimization methodology for user marketing. This algorithm learns from past experiments and utilizes novel optimization methods to optimize cost efficiency with respect to user selection. The method optimizes decisions using deep learning optimization models to treat and reward users, which is effective in producing cost-effective, impactful marketing campaigns. Our methodology demonstrates superior algorithmic flexibility with integration with deep learning methods and dealing with business constraints. The effectiveness of our model surpasses the quasi-oracle estimation (R-learner) model and causal forests. We also established evaluation metrics that reflect the cost-efficiency and real-world business value. Our proposed constrained and direct optimization algorithms outperform by 24.6% compared with the best performing method in prior art and baseline methods. The methodology is useful in many product scenarios such as optimal treatment allocation and it has been deployed in production world-wide.


    Will Y. Zou, Shuyang Du, James Lee, Jan Pedersen

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