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The art of personalization in flash commerce

This month we have Erik Lumer, VP of Personalization at Gilt, presenting "The art of personalization in flash commerce".


In this talk, I will discuss some of the unique challenges for personalization posed by an online flash sale business and illustrate some of the techniques adopted at Gilt. The short availability window of the products offered makes it impractical to use traditional item-level collaborative filtering techniques. Instead, preferences can be modeled at the attribute set level. Moreover, specific attribute similarity metrics based on information theoretic measures are seen to perform better when leveraging implicit customer preference cues derived from behavioral data. Finally, I will discuss some methods that we have tested to foster novelty in the recommendations of personally relevant products.


Vice President, Personalization Erik Lumer joined Gilt in November 2012 after founding and serving as Executive Chairman of Cascaad—the company behind the innovative interest-based social network CircleMe. In 2005, Erik co-founded and was CEO of the Internet TV pioneer Babelgum. Earlier in his career, he spent nearly a decade doing advanced research in Internet mathematics, machine learning and computational vision as a research professor at University College London, at the Neurosciences Institute (San Diego), at Xerox Parc (Palo Alto) and at Stanford University, where he received his PhD. Erik has also served as a board director and adviser to a number of early-stage tech companies.

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  • Tom W.

    Will the talk be taped? Thanks.

    January 8, 2014

    • Trey C.

      Was the video ever posted?

      February 10, 2014

    • Paul D.

      Sadly the people that normally take video weren't able to make it. Should have video of the next one.

      February 10, 2014

  • Mark S.

    Stuck in an Elevator 2014. Never forget.

    I enjoyed the presentation, but I wish Q&A was left for the end. The more interesting aspect than the algos is how it all fits together, and how that dictates some of the approaches taken. I will say that I wanted the kimono to be opened more, though.

    January 17, 2014

  • mark p.

    concerned all the $400 skirts were sold out by the time the elevator got unstuck

    1 · January 17, 2014

  • Robert M.

    It would help to have some management of questions in future, to maintain flow. Hold non-critical questions till the end. And have a mike so others can hear the question.

    4 · January 17, 2014

  • Sean

    This was a disappointing presentation. It was very specific to Gilt and I also hoped for more technical subject matter.

    3 · January 17, 2014

    • behzad n.

      I second that

      January 17, 2014

    • Saar G.

      I think it was actually refreshing to see a deviation from straightforward collaborative filtering.

      January 17, 2014

  • FNU T.

    Okayish. I wish there were more than one speakers. More technical stuff was expected.

    1 · January 16, 2014

  • Frank C.

    Great meeting everyone tonight. Below is the link to the new "Bots and Brains NYC" meetup I mentioned to a few of you.

    Thanks Erik, I really enjoyed the talk!

    January 16, 2014

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