Grid-based Evaluation Metrics for Web Image Search by Xiaohui Xie, Jiaxin Mao, Yiqun Liu, Maarten de Rijke, Yunqiu Shao, Zixin Ye, Min Zhang, and Shaoping Ma is online now at this location.

Compared to general web search engines, web image search engines display results in a different way. In web image search, results are typically placed in a grid-based manner rather than a sequential result list. In this scenario, users can view results not only in a vertical direction but also in a horizontal direction. Moreover, pagination is usually not (explicitly) supported on image search search engine result pages (SERPs), and users can view results by scrolling down without having to click a “next page” button. These differences lead to different interaction mechanisms and user behavior patterns, which, in turn, create challenges to evaluation metrics that have originally been developed for general web search. While considerable effort has been invested in developing evaluation metrics for general web search, there have been relatively less effort to construct grid-based evaluation metrics.

To inform the development of grid-based evaluation metrics for web image search, we conduct a comprehensive analysis of user behavior so as to uncover how users allocate their attention in a grid-based web image search result interface. We obtain three findings: (1) “Middle bias”: Confirming previous studies, we find that image results in the horizontal middle positions may receive more attention from users than those in the leftmost or rightmost positions. (2) “Slower decay”: Unlike web search, users’ attention does not decrease monotonically or dramatically with the rank position in image search, especially within a row. (3) “Row skipping”: Users may ignore particular rows and directly jump to results at some distance. Motivated by these observations, we propose correspond- ing user behavior assumptions to capture users’ search interaction processes and evaluate their search performance. We show how to derive new metrics from these assumptions and demonstrate that they can be adopted to revise traditional list-based metrics like Discounted Cumulative Gain (DCG) and Rank-Biased Precision (RBP). To show the effectiveness of the proposed grid-based metrics, we compare them against a number of list-based metrics in terms of their correlation with user satisfaction. Our experimental results show that the proposed grid-based evaluation metrics better reflect user satisfaction in web image search.

The paper will be presented at The Web Conference 2019.