Stochastic Budget Optimization in Internet Advertising
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Internet advertising is a sophisticated game in which the many advertisers “play” to optimize their return on investment. There are many “targets” for the advertisements, and each “target” has a collection of games with a potentially different set of players involved. In this paper, we study the problem of how advertisers allocate their budget across these “targets”. In particular, we focus on formulating their best response strategy as an optimization problem. Advertisers have a set of keywords (“targets”) and some stochastic information about the future, namely a probability distribution over scenarios of cost vs click combinations. This summarizes the potential states of the world assuming that the strategies of other players are fixed. Then, the best response can be abstracted as stochastic budget optimization problems to figure out how to spread a given budget across these keywords to maximize the expected number of clicks. We present the first known non-trivial poly-logarithmic approximation for these problems as well as the first known hardness results of getting better than logarithmic approximation ratios in the various parameters involved. We also identify several special cases of these problems of practical interest, such as with fixed number of scenarios or with polynomial-sized parameters related to cost, which are solvable either in polynomial time or with improved approximation ratios. Stochastic budget optimization with scenarios has sophisticated technical structure. Our approximation and hardness results come from relating these problems to a special type of (0/1, bipartite) quadratic programs inherent in them. Our research answers some open problems raised by the authors in (Stochastic Models for Budget Optimization in Search-Based Advertising, Algorithmica, 58 (4), 1022-1044, 2010).