For a business like ours, with hundreds of millions of monthly interactions, these seemingly small changes snowball into massive impact.Toby Wright, Chief Technology Officer, Telegraph Media Group
Keeping Pace with Digital Trends
Telegraph Media Group (TMG), a multi-media news publisher, grapples with these issues. The Telegraph is a true digital pioneer – its website launched four years before Google and 10 years before Facebook – but it too is forging a new path.
Toby Wright, CTO of TMG, leads the teams that design and develop digital products and services, including The Telegraph website. Competing with other digital pioneers who have established a high standard for user experiences, he and his teams support a strategic initiative to deliver premium content. To inspire readers from around the globe to subscribe and make purchases, TMG must deliver digital products and services quickly and securely, and drive more engagement.
Can Page Performance Be Tied to Engagement Rates?
In discussions with Akamai, TMG underscored the need to drive greater engagement. Akamai recommended TMG allow it to facilitate a test to answer the following questions:
- What would happen if page weight was significantly reduced? In turn, how much faster would pages load?
- If page loads were X seconds faster, what would be the impact on user session length, as defined by pages per session?
- How would longer session lengths impact the number of ad impressions served, and in turn, ad-driven revenue?
The test focused on reducing the weight of images, which account for a significant percentage of a given page’s weight, the hypothesis being that small incremental performance improvements would translate into measurable value for TMG. And, Akamai had recently launched its Image & Video Manager product, which reduces the weight of images by delivering the right size and resolution given the end device’s screen size and connectivity profile at that moment.
Each Second of Delay Reduces User Session Length
The test began in July 2016 and, over a two-month period, SOASTA (an independent digital performance measurement company) collected baseline data without any image enhancement. This baseline data confirmed that each second of additional page load time reduces average user session length; one second of added delay can cause an 11.5% drop.
Image & Video Manager Drives More Engagement
On September 1, Akamai turned on Image & Video Manager. Immediately, image weight declined 10-60% with no perceived change in image quality. This generated big declines in overall page weight. On a typical day, Telegraph’s home page weight declined by 20% overall. This led to a measurable uptick in session length.
SOASTA collected data for 29 more days. Across all device types and connectivity profiles, page load times declined by 9.6% and user session lengths increased by 2%. Page weight improvements yielded longer sessions on average. To be exact, 0.041 pages longer.
Optimizing images for mobile is even more impactful
Millions of smartphone users consume Telegraph content on their mobiles every month. Together, mobile devices of all types now capture the majority of page views. So the Telegraph team was eager to see Image & Video Manager’s impact on mobile- only sessions.
For those accessing the Telegraph via iOS devices on cellular connections, the impact exceeded results for all devices and connection types. Mobile-only page load times decreased by 33.8%, while mobile session lengths increased by 0.193 pages, or 12.8%.
About Telegraph Media Group
Telegraph Media Group (TMG) is a multi-media news publisher of the world-renowned, agenda-setting content found in its titles: The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Telegraph website and The Telegraph weekly world edition. The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Telegraph are known for their award-winning, investigative editorial. The Daily Telegraph is the UK’s best- selling quality daily newspaper with a long established history of over 160 years.