The ABC of Testing: Everything You Need to Know About Multi-Armed Bandit Testing

Now that you’ve been introduced to two types of testing, we don’t want to keep you from the latest and perhaps most exciting option: Multi-armed bandit (MAB) testing. Want to know what makes it so special? Then this blog post is for you!

What is Multi-Armed Bandit Testing? 

Compared to A/B and MV testing, the multi-armed bandit test is a very young type of testing and has not been used in e-commerce for a very long time. It is dynamic and not static, meaning that the resources are dynamically adjusted to the test groups during the test duration and the test group distribution never remains the same.

How Multi-Armed Bandit Testing Works

As we learned in the first part of this blog series, A/B testing is about testing two different variants against each other and MV testing is about comparing multiple variants against each other. The distribution of the test groups is always fixed. The multi-armed bandit test can test two or more options against each other, but it can do something that the other tests cannot: It continuously optimizes itself. Depending on the performance of the variants, it directs more traffic to the option that appears more promising to the individual user. This is because the MAB test is based on a learning algorithm that allocates visitors based on the data collected during the test phase.

The term “multi-armed bandit” comes from game theory and refers to the arms of different slot machines. The test constantly tries to figure out which “arm” brings the highest winnings and adjusts the “game” accordingly.

Why Use Multi-Armed Bandit Testing? 

User behavior is constantly changing, especially in online retail. As an online retailer, you need to react as quickly as possible to stay competitive. The test detects when a user is not interacting with one variant as usual and prefers to play another variant. Because you can run the test indefinitely, each user is always shown what best meets their needs and desires. This allows you to improve the usability and user experience in your store.

When Is It Useful?

The MAB test can be particularly useful in high-traffic environments and under constantly changing conditions. Its time efficiency allows you to respond quickly to the changing needs of your customers. So if your business requires quick decisions and constant optimization, this test option can help you. 

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