October 11, 2016
The OpenX School of Programmatic: The Need for Speed
Latency in automated advertising is a critical issue for publishers. Slow loading ads result in slow loading pages which can lead today’s time and attention-scarce audiences to browse elsewhere, taking publisher revenue with them. With that in mind, the latest session of our School of Programmatic looked at the challenges publishers face in reducing latency and how these can be overcome.
First we took a look at the four elements that most impact load speed:
Each element on a webpage adds weight, and the heavier a page the longer it takes to load. To keep pages streamlined and speedy publishers must looks at each element in turn – from third party tracking and analytics tools to dynamic ad units – to determine whether their presence on the page justifies the additional load times.
There are various factors that impact the speed of a publisher’s network. First there is distance, where services are hosted far from the user and data has a long way to travel. Second there is service quantity, where every service deployed to render content expands the network and increases transit time. Finally there is user connection, where connecting to certain devices – specifically mobile operator systems – slows down the process.
A sequence of events must take place each time an impression is auctioned. In an exchange this sequence may include receipt of an ad request, application of quality filters, data enrichment, selection of buyers, and the auction itself, after which the result is recorded so the ad creative can be served. This already complex chain of events takes longer where data has to pass between technology vendors and buyers, so publishers should look for tech partners that can co-host with buyers.
Complex creative and large ad units significantly increase page loading times. While publishers have little control over ad size and type once the auction process is underway, they can define clear criteria in advance that advertisers must meet. This includes understanding how advertisers are set up for content distribution, whether they will cache resources on the page, and what ad units they will use.
Here are six key takeaways for publishers looking to increase speed:
- Speed measurements vary greatly across the industry, so define what speed means to your business and optimise accordingly.
- Take a holistic view of speed, taking into account all of the above four elements and their impact on the user experience.
- Find an equilibrium between workload and performance, and identify elements that can be excluded to reduce latency.
- Look at speed optimisation as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time project, and keep up with the latest technological advances.
- Use an independent tool to analyse latency throughout entire websites, not just individual pages, to maintain load speeds across the whole user base.
- View maintaining load speeds as a continuous cycle of measuring, adjusting, testing, and repeating.
The session also included a presentation on header bidding from a speed engineer’s perspective, which outlined the complex procedure necessary for each and every demand partner. This illustrated the need for header bidding containers for multiple demand partners to speed up the process, which takes us neatly onto the following School of Programmatic session.
The next School of Programmatic lesson takes place on 18th October and explores the evolution of client & server-side container solutions. Sign up here to secure your place.