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Amazon taps AI to discover why customers buy seemingly irrelevant products

[2020.01.14, Tue 16:05] Why do customers buy products seemingly irrelevant to their web and voice assistant searches? That's a good question - and one a team of Amazon researchers sought to answer in a study scheduled to be presented at the upcoming ACM Web Search and Data Mining conference in February. In it, they say that their analyses - which looked at purchases and "Engagements," the latter of which was defined as interactions like sending search results to cell phones and adding products to shopping carts - suggests customers are partial to products that are broadly popular or cheaper than products relevant to a given search query. They say that people are much more likely to buy or engage with irrelevant products in a few categories - such as toys and digital products - than in those in categories like beauty products and groceries. "Product search algorithms, like the ones that help customers place orders through , aim at returning the products that are most relevant to users' queries, where relevance is usually interpreted as"anything that satisfies the users' need," wrote senior manager of applied research in the Alexa Shopping group Laine Lewin-Eytan in a blog post. After performing the statistical analyses, a pair of experiments was conducted to assess the value of including irrelevant products in Amazon search results. First, the team identified 1,500 queries - each associated with one relevant and one irrelevant product - and then they considered the results of applying five different product selection strategies to all of them. The Relevant strategy always returned the relevant product, while Irrelevant always returned the irrelevant product; Random arbitrarily selected between the two; and Worst always returned the product that led to the lower purchase or engagement level.
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