Causal Inference via Sparse Additive Models with Application to Online Advertising


  • Wei Sun Purdue University
  • Pengyuan Wang Yahoo! Labs
  • Dawei Yin Yahoo! Labs
  • Jian Yang Yahoo! Labs
  • Yi Chang Yahoo! Labs



Advertising effectiveness measurement is a fundamental problem in online advertising. Various causal inference methods have been employed to measure the causal effects of ad treatments. However, existing methods mainly focus on linear logistic regression for univariate and binary treatments and are not well suited for complex ad treatments of multi-dimensions, where each dimension could be discrete or continuous. In this paper we propose a novel two-stage causal inference framework for assessing the impact of complex ad treatments. In the first stage, we estimate the propensity parameter via a sparse additive model; in the second stage, a propensity-adjusted regression model is applied for measuring the treatment effect. Our approach is shown to provide an unbiased estimation of the ad effectiveness under regularity conditions. To demonstrate the efficacy of our approach, we apply it to a real online advertising campaign to evaluate the impact of three ad treatments: ad frequency, ad channel, and ad size. We show that the ad frequency usually has a treatment effect cap when ads are showing on mobile device. In addition, the strategies for choosing best ad size are completely different for mobile ads and online ads.




How to Cite

Sun, W., Wang, P., Yin, D., Yang, J., & Chang, Y. (2015). Causal Inference via Sparse Additive Models with Application to Online Advertising. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 29(1).