As our technology evolves, we want to make sure we are always providing clarity about how our ranking algorithms work. In this article, we’ll shed light on how these algorithms influence the livestreams that users see in their For You, Followed Hosts, and Category feeds.
Let’s start with some context.
Livestreams on Whatnot
When you open the Whatnot app, you’ll see vertical feeds of livestream thumbnails. These feeds are based on ranking techniques driven by a variety of signals (we’ll get more into signals below), all designed to optimize the viewing and buying experience for each individual user.
Whatnot employs a multifaceted ranking system throughout the app to ensure users see content that aligns with their preferences and interests. Every feed on Whatnot has its own purpose, so we also tailor our ranking methods and algorithms to each feed, instead of using a one-size-fits-all-feeds approach. We regularly test and update these methods to enhance the user experience.
We analyze user interactions with sellers, livestreams, listings, and other app content to generate signals. These signals help us predict the content that's most likely to drive user engagement and conversions.
The following is a list of some of the signals we use:
- The user’s explicit and implied interests in categories, sellers, and listings on Whatnot.
- For example, if you follow "Sports" but don't explicitly follow "Basketball Cards", we will consider "Basketball Cards" to be an implied category of interest.
- The quality of the experience provided to buyers by sellers, including the quality of the livestream, livestream listing quality, order fulfillment, and more.
How we rank the "For You" feed
We designed the “For You” feed to help you discover livestreams. This feed is made up of recommendations – livestreams from sellers you may or may not follow. Notably, the “For You” feed only includes livestreams - there are no scheduled shows in the “For You” feed.
The first step we take is defining a set of livestreams to rank. To find live streams you might be interested in, we look at your past activity such as shows you’ve bookmarked and categories that you’ve followed.
Once we’ve found some livestreams you might be interested in, we then order them by how likely you are to engage with each one. The most important actions we predict in the “For You” feed include views, bids, and orders. The most important signals are as follows:
- Information about the seller: We leverage signals like the seller’s main category, average order value, and how many times people have interacted with that seller in the past few weeks.
- Your history of interacting with the seller: If you have ever watched the seller’s livestreams, interacted with them, or purchased / bid from them in the past, we will tend to recommend livestreams from this seller to you.
- Your history of interacting with the seller’s top category: If you have ever watched content from the seller’s top category, interacted with other sellers in that category, or made bids / purchases from a category, we will tend to recommend livestreams from that category to you.
To ensure that buyers can get matched with reliable sellers who consistently provide positive experiences, we also prioritize shows from sellers who continue to follow Whatnot’s Community Guidelines and maintain high Trust & Safety standards.
How we rank the “Followed Hosts” feed
We designed the “Followed Hosts” feed to surface popular content from the channels that you follow.
First, we define a set of content to rank. The livestream’s channel must be one of the channels that you follow.
Once we’ve found a set of livestreams from channels that you follow, we rank them by their historical popularity, i.e., how much activity the channel has generated in the recent past.
How we rank category feeds
We designed category feeds to surface popular content in a specific category.
To begin with, we choose which livestreams could go into a particular category or subcategory feed. Sometimes, one livestream can qualify for multiple feeds: if, for instance, someone is doing a livestream about football cards, it could go into the Sports Card category feed or the Football Cards subcategory feed.
Once we’ve found a set of livestreams that align to a category feed, we rank them by their historical popularity, i.e., how much activity the channel has generated in the recent past.
Tips for sellers
For sellers who want to optimize the ranking of their livestreams across all our feeds, the following recommendations may help:
- Great buyer experience: Deliver exceptional buyer experiences. Going live frequently, shipping in a timely manner, accurately representing items, responding to reasonable inquiries, and fostering a positive community atmosphere can all contribute to improved relevance.
- Compliance with guidelines: Abide by Whatnot's Community Guidelines and regularly monitor your Trust & Safety Metrics in Seller Hub. A commitment to integrity, honesty, and community-building enhances the relevance of your livestreams and listings to users.
- Accurate categorization: Correctly categorize your livestreams and listings, as precise information helps identify the most relevant audience.
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