Website abandonment: Can replacing your Content Distribution Network help?

Here's an analysis of the scenario of online content delivery comprehensively and what could possibly be making your visitors tick.

Jaheer Abbas Oct 24th 2018
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How long do you expect an incoming visitor to wait for your website to load before he or she finally leaves? According to Limelight Networks’ ‘State of the User Experience 2017’ report, about half of the incoming traffic to a website will not wait for more than five seconds. Of those who do, 43 percent are likely to abandon the website if they feel that it is slow to browse. 

A website’s loading speed has multiple governing factors. This includes server performance, server location, volume of traffic, complex file formats, code density, as well as the local network speed of the end-user. Despite such wide-ranging complications, a platform has to ensure that its content is delivered to each and every end-user aptly in order to minimize website abandonment.

But doing so is easier said than done. Online platforms have lately started leveraging third-party content distributors to do away with the wide-ranging complications involved in the process. However, that still doesn’t resolve the challenge – especially if the service provider is deployed without any prior assessment – and, hence, there is often zero tangible impact on the website abandonment. 

Let’s analyze the scenario of online content delivery comprehensively and what could possibly be making your visitors tick?

Fixing Slip-ups: How can you decrease platform attrition by replacing your existing CDN?

Online media delivery today is no longer the way it used to be. Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) have at present become the part and parcel of online media delivery. But what are CDNs? 

CDNs are essentially a network of data centres and proxy servers that help distribute content, such as an audio, video, or any other content format, from its source to end-destination. They’re used by a gamut of organizations including Over-The-Top (OTT), e-commerce, and file-sharing platforms alongside others. CDNs help deliver the end-to-end content of a platform seamlessly to global end-users accessing it via different devices.

Deploying a CDN surely has multiple advantages. It helps in enhancing the user experience, improves the content loading speed, and eliminates additional infrastructural requirements apart from decreasing the platform attrition. But merely deploying a CDN doesn’t necessarily decrease the platform attrition – sometimes it can also serve against the purpose.

CDN operations require a gigantic network of optical cables throughout the target locations, which forms their own private internet and eliminates network congestions within the public internet infrastructure. Now, a majority of CDNs only have a regional or sub-continental reach. However, a platform’s sizeable chunk of audience either could be already accessing or could potentially access the platform’s services from elsewhere. This is what causes a friction on the most fundamental level of user experience.

Understanding similar challenges and limitations of individual CDNs, more seasoned platforms have multi-CDN deployments. But doing so also gets them into the complexity of load balancing, wherein they have to consider a number of factors and also how to implement fixed weightings between different CDNs. Should it be performance-based balancing, balancing based on factors like region, or would it be by trial and error, all have an elusive perfect answer.

Streamlining: The ideal approach is to streamline the process of content distribution and involve as less players as possible. Preferably, your CDN must have an impeccable global reach if your delivery needs are not exclusively limited to a specific region. This will also enable you to tap into a significantly large audience for regional content that is dispersed across the globe.

Cache Efficiency: Your CDN must have advanced proxy caching capabilities with higher cache efficiency. Higher cache efficiency ensures near-instantaneous retrieval of content for a better user experience.

Device and Local Network Condition of end-user: You must also be able to deliver optimal performance over any network connection type or speed without requiring any special client-side code. If the internet connectivity is slow, the content must be optimized before it is likely to buffer with real-time performance analysis. Quality must then be enhanced as soon as the network conditions of the user improve. Advanced TCP can help in doing so. Also, given that different end-users use wide-ranging devices (supporting different content formats) to access the platform, it must be ensured that the content is delivered in the most optimal format based on the particular device of every end-user. It can be done without causing any delay via transmuxing.

Server Location: Content must be sourced from as close server location as possible to the end-user to ensure there is no delay in transmission. Your CDN must have automated regional replication which places the content closest to any end-user across the globe. This makes performance faster by 90 to 200 percent than conventional cloud storage for CDN applications.

It always begins with knowing your business needs

In conclusion, every website or platform owner must understand that merely choosing a CDN on a random basis is not a ‘solution’ of the content delivery challenges. A right CDN not only helps in enhancing the user experience onboard, it also saves the platform from several other challenges such as cyberattacks and data thefts. Some CDNs even provide in-depth information vis-à-vis end-users, which is then used by platforms for analytics and to curate finest content onboard matching their respective audience’s need.

You must always opt for the right CDN based on the end-to-end needs of your platform. Otherwise, despite your best efforts, you would possibly never understand why your audience wouldn’t stick around.

Jaheer Abbas is senior regional director - SEA & India at Limelight Network

Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).