WWW2008 Refereed Papers - WWW 2008: Refereed Papers
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Refereed Papers


Track: Industrial Track Session

Paper Title:
Characterizing Typical and Atypical User Sessions in Clickstreams

Authors:

  • Narayanan Sadagopan(Yahoo!)
  • Jie Li(Yahoo!)

Abstract:
Millions of users retrieve information from the Internet using search engines. Mining these user sessions can provide valuable information about the quality of user experience and the perceived quality of search results. Often search engines rely on accurate estimates of Click Through Rate (CTR) to evaluate the quality of user experience. The vast heterogeneity in the user population and presence of automated software programs (bots) can result in high variance in the estimates of CTR. To improve the estimation accuracy of user experience metrics like CTR, we argue that it is important to identify typical and atypical user sessions in clickstreams. Our approach to identify these sessions is based on detecting outliers using Mahalanobis distance in the user session space. Our user session model incorporates several key clickstream characteristics including a novel conformance score obtained by Markov Chain analysis. Editorial results show that our approach of identifying typical and atypical sessions has a precision of about 89%. Filtering out these atypical sessions reduces the uncertainty (95% confidence interval) of the mean CTR by about 40%. These results demonstrate that our approach of identifying typical and atypical user sessions is extremely valuable for cleaning "noisy" user session data for increased accuracy in evaluating user experience.

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