Click-through rate prediction use case summary


This use case is based on the publicly available Terabyte Click Logs dataset from Criteo AI Lab. With the recent advances in ML platforms and applications, a lot of attention is now on learning at scale. The click-through rate (CTR) is defined as the average number of click-throughs per hundred online ad impressions (expressed as a percentage). It is widely adopted as a key metric in various industry verticals and use cases, including digital marketing, retail, e-commerce, and service providers. Examples of using CTR as an important metric for potential customer traffic include the following:

  • Digital marketing: In Google Analytics, CTR can be used to gauge how well an advertiser or merchant’s keywords, ads, and free listings are performing. A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads and listings helpful and relevant. CTR also contributes to your keyword’s expected CTR, which is a component of Ad Rank.

  • E-commerce: In addition to leveraging Google Analytics, there are at least some visitor statistics in an e-commerce backend. Although these statistics might not seem useful at first glance, they are typically easy to read and might be more accurate than other information. First-party datasets composed of such statistics are proprietary and are therefore the most relevant to e-commerce sellers, buyers, and platforms. These datasets can be used for setting benchmarks, comparing results to last year and yesterday by constructing a time-series for further analysis.

  • Retail: Brick-and-mortar retailers can correlate the number of visitors and the number of customers to the CTR. The number of customers can be seen from their point-of-sale history. The CTR from retailers' websites or ad traffic might result in the aforementioned sales. Loyalty programs are another use case, because customers redirected from online ads or other websites might join to earn rewards. Retailers can acquire customers via loyalty programs and record behaviors from sales histories to build a recommendation system that not only predicts consumer buying behaviors in different categories but also personalizes coupons and decreases churn.

  • Service providers: Telecommunication companies and internet service providers have an abundance of first-party user telemetry data for insightful AI, ML, and analytics use cases. For example, a telecom can leverage its mobile subscribers' web browsing top level domain history logs daily to fine-tune existing models to produce up-to-date audience segmentation, predict customer behavior, and collaborate with advertisers to place real-time ads for better online experience. In such data-driven marketing workflow, CTR is an important metric to reflect conversions.

In the context of digital marketing, Criteo Terabyte Click Logs are now the dataset of reference in assessing the scalability of ML platforms and algorithms. By predicting the click-through rate, an advertiser can select the visitors who are most likely to respond to the ads, analyze their browsing history, and show the most relevant ads based on the interests of the user.

The solution provided in this technical report highlights the following benefits:

  • Azure NetApp Files advantages in distributed or large-scale training

  • RAPIDS CUDA-enabled data processing (cuDF, cuPy, and so on) and ML algorithms (cuML)

  • The Dask parallel computing framework for distributed training

An end-to-end workflow built on RAPIDS AI and Azure NetApp Files demonstrates the drastic improvement in random forest model training time by two orders of magnitude. This improvement is significant comparing to the conventional Pandas approach when dealing with real-world click logs with 45GB of structured tabular data (on average) each day. This is equivalent to a DataFrame containing roughly twenty billion rows. We will demonstrate cluster environment setup, framework and library installation, data loading and processing, conventional versus distributed training, visualization and monitoring, and compare critical end-to-end runtime results in this technical report.