Why is my site so slow?

Many publishers refresh their browser one day and realize that their site feels excruciatingly slow. It certainly feels slower than it used to be, especially on a mobile device, which by the way now makes up the bulk of their traffic. There may be a decline, dismissed as insignificant, in user engagement as measured by time spent or pageviews per user. Revenue or CPMs may be threatened or reaching a ceiling.

There are many possible explanations for this, all of which will vary depending on who you talk to within the organization. The codebase may have degraded over time, they may have allowed too many heavy elements to each page, there may be some backend infrastructure issues, or they may have become reliant on too many “indirect” monetization vendors. More often than not, ad ops receives the blame and must propose solutions.

In these situations, an unbiased evaluation of all demand sources is necessary, which is often easier said than done. Many publishers have legacy relationships that have been in place for years, sweetheart deals with vendors that would be hard to reestablish, and tags that no one even knows are there. Unfortunately, aside from the financial impact of removing certain elements, there is often emotional baggage that can lead to finger pointing and irrational decisions. The best approach is to take an inventory of all the pixels, tags and other calls being made, identify each vendor and assign them all a value. With this information, smart decisions can be made on what to keep and what to eliminate. Vendors with the worst latency should be called out and challenged to perform at a higher level. They all claim to have “the best technology,” and this is the perfect time for them to prove it.

Other than vendors and demand sources, the publisher’s ad stack itself can cause problems, no matter how sophisticated. Are there ad calls being made that were once necessary but now irrelevant? Are there pixels live that were implemented years ago to close a deal that has long since concluded? Does the adserver architecture even make sense for the current design and sales strategy of the site? These are all questions to ask, especially going into a new year.

A great way to do this while removing internal bias and emotions is to find an independent expert that can evaluate your site, ad stack and vendor mix to make recommendations for improving site speed, user experience and ultimately yield. If you think this might apply to your organization, we would love to discuss how we can help.