Understanding the performance and impact third party content has on a website isn’t a new thing. Back in 2010 Steve Souders wrote about the complexity of third party content and published a table on the impact some components had on performance. The world of the web has changed quite a bit since then but the need to understand the impact third party content has on page performance has not. Well, maybe it has become even more important since then.
In an effort to make an application more interactive and personalized companies have added third party elements to:
- help with A/B testing
- share content on social media channels
- speak with a customer service representative
- track a visitor’s path through the site
- monitor real user performance
- generate revenue from advertising
And the list goes on and on.
Since 2011 the percentage of third party content has grown as companies look to improve the digital experience of their applications. HttpArchive has been tracking the growth of third party vs first party content. For sites with fewer resources on the page the percentage of third party content is smaller but growing. For sites with more resources on the page the percentage of third party content has not grown, but it does make up over 50% of the requests.
With the massive amounts of third party content it isn’t surprising that this can have an impact on the user experience. A recent Secret Media study on the influence of advertising on user experience found in the US ads take up only 9% of the graphic space but account for 54% of the load time. As a user, I don’t care whether a page isn’t loading because of a third party component or a first party. I will get frustrated with the owner of the application if performance is poor, even though in some cases the majority of the page is being delivered by third parties. The owner of the website is ultimately responsible for the performance of all content whether served internally or by a third party.
As a result, many organizations require Service Level Agreements (SLAs) from providers. SLAs offer a guaranteed level of service to organizations utilizing a provider’s service. Vendors need to be held accountable for the service they are delivering and customers have to be realistic about performance metrics. New York Magazine is starting to hold its advertisers accountable for providing performant ads to guarantee viewability. Is it realistic to expect 100% uptime? SLAs should have defined metrics and be measurable. In A Practical Guide to SLAs we defined four pillars for an effective SLA practice
SLAs are essentially useless unless there is the ability to monitor and report on them
Catchpoint recently released two new features to help organizations understand the impact of third party content and to manage SLAs. As of September 2016 Catchpoint is able to automatically separate requests from first and third parties enabling customers to quickly identify whether performance issues are related to internal or third party content. Customers can define domains to be included under self to ensure all domains are measured appropriately.
Information on how to configure first and third party zones can be found in this knowledgebase article.
When not actively troubleshooting a performance problem, it can be easy to lose track of whether SLAs are being met. Emailed reports can now be defined and color-coded with SLA thresholds keeping all stakeholders up to date on the current status of whether SLAs are being met.
If you’re not measuring the performance of third party you aren’t measuring the performance of your application. Using Self vs third party zones in conjunction with SLA performance reporting, organizations are able to ensure excellent digital experiences for their users.