The Surprising Power of Online Experiments

Getting the most out of A/B and other controlled tests

In the fast-moving digital world, even experts have a hard time assessing new ideas. Case in point: At Bing a small headline change an employee proposed was deemed a low priority and shelved until one engineer decided to do a quick online controlled experiment—an A/B test—to try it out. The test showed that the change increased revenue by an astonishing 12%.

That experience illustrates why it’s critical to adopt an “experiment with everything” approach, say Ron Kohavi, the head of the Analysis & Experimentation team at Microsoft, and Stefan Thomke, an HBS professor.

In this Harvard Business Review article they describe:

  • How to properly design and execute A/B and other controlled tests
  • Ensure test integrity
  • How to interpret results and avoid pitfalls
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