Internet advertising is big business. The latest reports from the Interactive Advertising Bureau in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers show that in the US alone the industry was worth an astonishing $31 billion in 2011 – an increase of 22 per cent on 2010.
Search engine-based advertising alone represents nearly half of that total figure, with the rest being made up of contextual, banner, video and display advertising. Mobile is also becoming an increasingly important market; more than doubling in revenue a year previously.
However, where there is a market, there is competition.
This competition mainly comes in the form of advertising and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), in addition to search engines. The difference between which advertiser wins in this crowded marketplace and which one loses can come down to a concept which all of us are familiar with on the internet. It’s one which we all collectively live by and are controlled by – speed.
The effect that speed has on internet advertising shouldn’t be underestimated. There are no fewer than three parties that stand to win or lose, purely on the basis of how quickly a site and its on-page elements load – the user, the search engine and the business itself.
For the user, studies suggest that the average person has little time for delays on a website. Even if an advertising platform benefits from being separated from the main site on dedicated servers, a user will expect all on-page content to appear at the same time. This is because users trust speed; sometimes using it as a measure of authority. Those who cannot deliver their on-page content within milliseconds therefore may instantly lose a user’s trust and potentially their custom as a result.
Improving the time a website and its third party content takes to load not only benefits users but also search engine rankings. Google – the world’s biggest search engine – for one, confirmed several years ago that loading speeds now make up a small part of its ranking factor. It did so on the basis that “faster sites create happy users.”
As if improving a user’s experience while also satisfying the search engines wasn’t enough, a business stands to benefit from faster advertising in very straightforward cash terms.
Following a link could lead to revenues from affiliate networks, which offer a share of any revenue that is generated by the merchant from visitors to the publisher’s site – providing the user follows through with an appropriate action (e.g. making a purchase, requesting a quote). Therefore ensuring that these advertisements load in a very fast manner is key to the user respecting the ad, as well as the site; leading to them potentially following their visit through.
Speed is also a key concern for advertisers because of the changing nature in how ads are manifesting themselves on the web. While it might only take milliseconds to load textual or display advertising, the onset of video and even in-game advertising is pushing online advertising’s technological requirements to the max. It is now only with the fastest of connections that an advertiser can hope to have any influence in gaining a user’s extremely valuable and potentially profitable trust.
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