The Confirmation Bias and Online Research

Myself and my colleague, the superb Mark Sng, wrote this piece for Admap. It looks at bias and brands in the online world.

Subscription access (apologies!) but here’s the summary below. You can click on the link at the end to get the full article.

Comments and debate welcome!


A recent report from Google suggested that, by the time people reach the shops, many of them have already made a decision on what they are going to buy because of the prevalence of online research beforehand. They call this the ‘zero moment of truth’.

We would suggest that the purchase decision is partly made, even before this research starts. We begin our brand and product research with a hypothesis of what our preference will be, and this emotional attachment will trump the objective information we encounter. This is because our innate confirmation bias makes us more likely to seek out and believe information that aligns with what we already think.

Smart companies however, leverage this confirmation bias to turn warm fans into active advocates online, to create a ripple effect of positive endorsement, and to place themselves at the start of the purchase funnel with a significantly unfair advantage.

Click for full article

  1. I’m curious as to why the advantage is unfair? If the brand is being innovative and pro-active about how they position themselves online, then it’s not unfair, it’s just a significant advantage isn’t it?

      • Neasa Cunniffe
      • February 12th, 2012

      Yes of course! That was tongue in cheek – the advantage is “unfair” but obviously very beneficial because of it.

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