I received a Backtype alert this morning for BSA that linked over to a post on the Google Webmaster Central blog to a video post titled “You and site performance, sitting in a tree…“. In the comments it was mentioned by several people that the slowest part of their site was ads (specifically, Google’s AdSense). Maile Ohye (who is the author of the post / podcast) mentioned that Google is looking at some ways in which they can improve ad loading times. She hints at HTML5 saving the day and also mentions BSA’s asynchronous ad code.
Steve Souders, a pioneer in website performance and Google’s Performance expert, did some performance testing of 3rd party content (including ad networks). The results are here: http://stevesouders.com/p3pc/. If you look at the ad networks included in his tests, BSA’s ad code is by far the fastest of them all and is classified as having a “small” impact on page load time. The reason for this is very obvious — our non-blocking asynchronous ad code.
Our asynchronous ad code is something we’re very proud of. In fact, I think we should start promoting this sexy feature more than we do. We didn’t have to make asynchronous ad code, and our business would be fine if we had not done this. But, that’s not the way we were thinking before deciding to spend a decent amount of time converting our ad code to be asynchronous. It was a ton of work, and to be candid… it was VERY painful, making the switch from the old ad code to the async ad code. But it was totally worth it, our publisher sites that use the async code load faster. The question we asked ourselves when deciding whether or not to do this project was “Is there a good reason NOT to do this?”. I think that it would be hard to argue that having asynchronous ad code actually makes us more money — and that’s exactly why no other ad networks have made this same investment, it doesn’t effect their bank account.
At the end of the day, I am not going to hold my breath while waiting for other ad networks to do what is right and provide an asynchronous version of their ad code. Sure, maybe Google will do it with AdSense some day, but other than Google I doubt any other ad networks will do this any time soon. I know, I’m not being very optimistic here, but for good reason. Look at it this way: if BuySellAds.com, a very small company with 1.5 core engineer’s (I’m only counting myself as half an engineer) can do this in 3 week’s time… why can’t other ad networks do this? Ad networks with 10′s of engineers! What are you waiting for? Now that we have shown that it is possible, reliable, and provides our users with measurable page load time improvement there isn’t a good reason not to do this. You can even copy techniques used in our ad code.
If my rant above is not enough, here’s a look at reactions from some of our publishers after they installed our async ad code: