Media sites and the teams that are tasked with developing and maintaining them face a unique set of challenges. Much like all IT Ops and Development teams, they need to be concerned with consistent internal and external monitoring to insure that the site is available and that it is performing within acceptable guidelines. The major difference is that the site content is changing almost perpetually as the news changes and they are heavily dependent on third party ad revenue, meaning the part of the site the drives bottom line dollars is typically out of their control.
As different as media teams may be from each other, one theme is consistent: the need for a performance culture, backed by cooperative efforts from all departments involved. Included in that is the need for synthetic and RUM monitoring solutions.
To achieve strong performance, there are a number of important metrics that need to be constantly monitored. A great starting point is an understanding of your users’ threshold for performance. At what point will your readers start to go elsewhere for their content or shopping needs? Once you understand that threshold, teams can put together a strategy that will accomplish that goal. More importantly, what it is costing in actual dollars when your bounce rate increases?
The above charts illustrate how a degradation of performance created an increase in the bounce rate and an approximation of the net revenue lost due to that degradation.
All teams are different, and how they will analyze data depends on the objectives of the team and organization. Most media teams can agree on a few key points. The first is understanding the readers; you need to know what devices they are using, what browsers, where they are located, etc. Once that is determined, it becomes easier to see how many people are being affected by performance degradations.
The above charts show how performance issues vary in different cities, and how you can determine how many users were impacted by them.
The other important objectives are an understanding of how a change in the content can impact performance, and how core infrastructure like data centers and CDNs are performing. Understanding these variables and the effect that they have on site performance is paramount to the overall success of the site. Once you have all of this vital information, the final step is creating a synergy and ownership of responsibilities between the teams built around the goals that you’ve set.
Above is an example illustrating how the site performance is impacted at the end user with particular advertisements using real world data. This example shows the importance of Development and Delivery teams being on the same page.
No matter how different the individual teams across an organization are, one maxim is always true: site performance is directly related to end user experience, which in turn is directly related to revenue. In order to understand that experience and the impact it has, teams need to be armed with an ample amount of accurate data.
Once they have it, IT Ops teams then need to be able to slice and dice that data to get to the root cause of any issues that arise. For media groups, a synergy between the IT Ops and Development teams leads to a faster, more reliable site, an improvement in brand recognition, and an increase in bottom line revenue. Combine all of these things, and the end result will be a lot of satisfied executives, board members, and stockholders.
[This article was written by John Lobisser]