RecSys 2016 – Part II. – Gravity @ RecSys 2016

by Balázs Hidasi


This is the second of three posts on the RecSys 2016 conference. Last week I wrote about the conference in general. This week I’ll discuss what Gravity contributed to the conference.

Since the conference was overseas, the Gravity contingent at RecSys was small this year, compared to last year. Only our CEO (Domonkos Tikk) and myself as the Head of Research represented Gravity. However, the contributions of Gravity were plentiful. We organized a workshop, had a long and two PPF papers, as well as a poster.

DLRS 2016

We co-organized the 1st Deep Learning for Recommender Systems (DLRS) workshop with Alexandros Karatzoglou from Telefonica Research and researchers from Israel (IBM Research & Ben Gurion University). The idea of organizing the workshop came to us naturally, since we were early adopters of deep learning in the RecSys community: we launched joint research collaboration with Alex last summer in this topic and have been working in this area ever since. We wanted to spread the word about deep learning in this community and encourage research, so we proposed to have this workshop. We were joined by another group who had a similar idea. The contribution of co-organizers showed significant variance, but this is pretty much what you can expect with seven organizers. 🙂


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RecSys 2016 – Part I. – The conference from a research perspective

by Balázs Hidasi


The 10th conference in the ACM RecSys conference series was held in Boston between September 15 and 19. Upon returning from the conference (and a few days of vacation dedicated to discovering Boston), I decided to post about my experiences.

This is the first in a series of three blog posts on RecSys 2016. In this post, I write about the conference from a research perspective and discuss the popular research directions of the conference and the field in general. The next post will discuss Gravity’s contribution, which includes the organization of the Deep Learning for Recommender Systems workshop, presenting a long paper, and more. The final post will conclude this series with my best paper picks from RecSys 2016. Check back next week for the second blog post!

General thoughts

Last year I was kind of disappointed with the technical quality of RecSys and hoped that it was due to everyone working on new exciting research directions and wanted to roll the old stuff out before moving on. It felt like the calm before the storm and you could feel that the community had been already working on novel research projects, but only a few was ready for the public. The only question was whether these exciting topics will be discussed this year?


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Best performing JEREMIE funded companies

Gravity R&D named one of the best performing Hungarian JEREMIE funded company

Last year’s financial results of Hungarian companies that received funding through the JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) program were recently made public. Gravity R&D received JEREMIE funding in 2011, from domestic investor, Portfolion Zrt.

We’re proud to announce that there were only 3 firms on the list that generated more revenue through the export of their products and services than Gravity. This establishes the company as one of the most globally-aimed firms of the country’s JEREMIE portfolio.

In fact, of the approx. €1.9M total revenue we’ve realized in 2015, more than €1.5M came from abroad, which is an outstandingly high percentage amongst Hungarian JEREMIE-funded companies.

Gravity was also the 7th best-performing company in terms of total revenues in 2015 of all the nearly 300 Hungarian companies that received JEREMIE funding since 2011.

Gravity’s current focus on the rapidly developing Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern markets is more than likely to amplify the company’s global focus in the years to come. These regions are home to an increasing number of high-growth eCommerce companies and other sorts of online businesses and services that can benefit from our sophisticated Big Data solutions and recommendation services. Recently closed deals with Gittigidiyor (eBay Turkey) and Vietnamese eCommerce company had proven that these regions, in fact, hold tremendous potential for growth for Gravity. As part of our efforts to expand in these regions, we’ve recently hired dedicated technical and account management personnel in Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What is the JEREMIE fund?

JEREMIE is a joint initiative established to grant EU Member States the opportunity to use part of their EU Structural Funds to finance SMEs in a more efficient and sustainable way. JEREMIE’s financial resources have been deployed through selected financial intermediaries across the EU, which have provided loans, equity, and guarantees to SMEs.

Portfolion Zrt. is one of such organizations that are trusted with the allocation of JEREMIE funds in Hungary. Portfolion is currently managing three separate investment funds – on top of JEREMIE investments, they provide venture capital funding through their Regional Private Equity Fund, as well as seed investment through the DayOne Seed Investment Fund. Other than Gravity, they hold stakes in numerous innovative technology companies, such as Cellum (Mobile wallet provider), (Online travel agency), and Adasworks (self-driving cars).

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In-store personalization

Gravity B&M partners with Deloitte to bring personalization to offline retail

The recent advances in related technologies created the opportunity for retailers to take what already works online, namely personalization and product recommendations, and use them to enhance their traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses.

That’s the kind of service that Gravity B&M, subsidiary of Gravity R&D provides for its clients. In order to introduce the technology and its capabilities to the broadest possible audience of traditional retailers, we’re proud to announce that Gravity B&M engaged in a strategic partnership with leading global consultancy firm Deloitte.

“With this new service, we provide our clients with an end-to-end solution that enables all kinds of brick-and-mortar businesses, electronic retailers, DIY stores, hyper and supermarkets to serve personalized product recommendations in their physical stores, on top of their web and mobile platforms. Simply put, it’s like if the store assistants knew every shopper really well.” – described the solution briefly Ákos Demeter, Advisory Partner at Deloitte Hungary.

The reason why this new service is revolutionary in the retail sector is that it creates the kind of smooth and personal shopping experience in traditional stores that today’s customers get more and more used to online – up to the point of actually greeting shoppers by their name when they enter a hypermarket. This enables brick-and-mortar retailers to help their customers find the products they’re looking for quickly and easily, much as most online shops do. Also, such a system creates the possibility to provide shoppers with personalized offers and discounts that can further help them with product discovery and purchase decisions. For the retailer, this obviously means increased cross-sell and upsell potential.

The solution collects, handles, and analyzes all the data that is used to calculate recommendations and then provides product suggestions in real time, based on information such as online and offline purchase histories, time spent in store and even the specific sections of the shop where the customer has shown elevated interest and engagement levels (i.e. spent time looking at certain selves or products).

“From the retailer’s perspective, this recommender system is an excellent tool to significantly boost revenues by increasing average basket values and the total number of purchases. On the other hand, it is also convenient and useful for the customer if he receives perfectly timed and personalized offers. According to market statistics, systems like this can result in up to 10-20% growth in yearly revenues.” – added Ákos Demeter, summing up the merits of the system.


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Tiki Boosts Revenues and Increases Customer Engagement by Partnering With Gravity

We have recently partnered with, one of the most prominent players of Vietnam’s booming eCommerce sector. During the initial testing period, our solution significantly outperformed competitors.

Today’s well-informed consumers tend to favor sites with the lowest prices and are rarely loyal to any particular eCommerce brand. Vietnam has a vibrant marketing scene, but most companies are focusing their marketing efforts on new customer acquisition. When Tiki decided to look for a recommendation solution provider, their goal was to prioritize user engagement and generate more revenues by providing a personalized experience. Gravity’s solution has proven to be highly effective in facilitating the upselling and cross-selling of Tiki products and improving customer retention.

During the pilot period, Gravity’s recommendations resulted in an additional $13.15 GMV per 1000 recommendations and a 6% average conversion rate.

“Our cooperation with Tiki is a major milestone in the company’s expansion in the SEA region. We’ve recently opened our office in Vietnam and hired Ngô Kỳ Lam, an experienced e-commerce specialist as our Country Manager in order to establish fruitful partnerships, and provide maximum support to our present and future clients in the region.” – Marton Vertes – Business Development Manager, Gravity R&D

“Gravity has been outperforming other similar solutions in every important aspect and KPI: Revenue, AOV, CTR and response time. This is why, after evaluating the results, we have decided to move forward with Gravity as our chosen recommender system provider.” – Hung Tran Viet – Product Manager, Tiki is one of the largest eCommerce sites in Vietnam, a country that is showing enormous growth in the online retail, and IT sectors in general. Similar to Amazon, Tiki started out by selling books online. Through the years, they’ve significantly expanded the scope of their operations. Currently, there are over 300,000 listings on the site in over twelve product categories and their traffic is growing substantially month over month.

Gravity offers scalable solutions for Enterprise clients with unique needs and larger traffic, as well as for small and medium-sized businesses through its turnkey SaaS recommendation engine, Yusp (

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