The thoughts, opinions and sometimes the rants of Mark Evans

How One Line of Javascript Killed the Internet

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Warning: The post below is a rant based on my own personal views and should be read as such.

There is a constant battle which rages across the Internet almost everyday. Users want up-to-date content and they don’t want to pay for it, content producers want to create more and more content but can’t do so without a way to monetize that content.

There have been some recent pushes towards content which is no longer free and sits behind a paywall, this in some instances works out great when users cannot get the content you are offering from any other source but for general news and views a quick search in Google or Bing and people can generally find an alternative source of the information they want.

This pushes content providers to follow a more “Ad-Supported” model where content producers try harder and harder to make increased revenue from an ever diminishing market which is seeing lower and lower rate of CPM.

This causes quite a conundrum as getting a larger share of a reducing revenue model doesn’t do the content providers much good. Therefore they start to look at other ways of monetization such as behavioural targeting and ad-retargetting in order to get better value from the “Ad-Supported” model. This is where the “one line of javascript” comes in.

One thing I hate as an end user is when I am waiting for content to be shown to me and it seems to take forever (or at least over 6 seconds in real terms). Seeing that blank white page and the waiting for to respond in the bottom of the browser window can quite quickly see my blood pressure rise to the point where I just click the close button and try and find somewhere else to get the information I was looking for.

This can cause big problems for content producers, they want to try and get a larger share of the ad revenue but by doing that they reduce the number of users who want to visit their website due to it taking forever to get to the real content, therefore driving down their ad-revenues.

Enter the all too familiar¬†Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site which gives advice on how to make your website faster, some of the things to do is reduce DNS lookups, use a CDN and defer javascript calls (or move to the bottom of the page) quite often however the code used to serve ads and conduct behavioural targeting requires to be at the top of the page due to document.write or other reasons which I won’t go into here which means there is not much the developer can do to optimize this, meaning the end user suffers.

This problem can only get worse as content providers try more and more ways of targeting ads to the end user and implement multiple different providers on the same pages which increases the slow performance of the site.

There needs to be a sense check somewhere by the content providers to decide if a targeting / retargeting platform is really delivering value, if it isn’t and they decide to implement an alternative then please please please for the sake of the whole Internet take off the platform that isn’t working.

2011 in my opinion will be the year of performance where sites that perform badly will be penalised and move further down the search engine rankings, and whilst this will be great for end users it will be a disaster for content providers.