Single page call makes your site load faster

Using the newest version of OpenX, I was able to speed up a client’s website by a factor of 10. This tip describes how we used the single page call feature of OpenX 2.6 to do this.

Introducing OpenX single page call

My client hired me to upgrade his ad server system to OpenX version 2.6. The most important reason was that we wanted to start using a new type of invocation code available in this latest OpenX release, single page call. My client’s blog, funded primarily by sponsors, has 35 zones on every page, and this made the pages load rather slowly. Single page call was designed to remedy this, and we were eager to find out how much faster the site would be after this change.

A special consideration was that the site has 23 ‘Platinum Sponsors’ and 10 ‘Gold Sponsors’ and their banners must rotate in the spots available for these two types of sponsors. Before the upgrade the site used direct selection, but this required periodic manual reshuffling of the page so that each sponsor would show up at the top of the pages from time to time. Using the zones on a website would automatically randomize the delivery of the 23 Platinum sponsor ads over the 23 Platinum zones (and the same for Gold sponsors).

After the upgrade, we implemented singe page call code in the the site’s template. The OpenX documentation has some details on how to do this. And the OpenX software will generate all the code for it on the fly, so it’s just as simple as the traditional types of invocation code that have been available for years.

Advanced use of single page call: ‘Named Zones’

We wanted to make it very simple and quick to add a new sponsor to the site. That’s why I decided to have only a one zone for Platinum sponsors and another zone for Gold sponsors and repeat those zones just as many times as there are sponsors for each category. The “Named Zones” feature allowed me to create multiple instances of the same zone on a single page, while still making sure that these named zones behave as if they’re separate zones. Adding a new sponsor to the inventory is now as simple as adding an advertiser and a campaign, linking that campaign to right zone, and adding an additional instance of that zone in the blog’s theme.

Impressive results

After placing the invocation in the WordPress theme that drives the look of the blog, we tested the site and were pleasantly surprised that loading the page was 5 to 10 times faster than before. A load time of 12 seconds during the busy hours of the day was reduced to just under 2 seconds. And at night the site even loads in under 1 second.

Another advantage of single page call is that it results in a drastic reduction of the load on the ad server, since every page impression causes only one request to the ad server. This request returns all the ads for the page and all that remains is a request for the image files and beacon pixels to log ad impressions. In contrast, before using single page call, each of the 35 zones would contact the ad server in sequence and force the delivery engine to wake up, decide what ad to show and return that result. A single request for 35 ads proves to be much faster than 35 requests for just one ad. See for yourself by visiting the site at HIStalk2.com.

Conclusion

Using the new single page call in OpenX 2.6 could be a very simple to implement but very effective method to make your site load faster while reducing the load on your ad server at the same time.

It would be my pleasure to assist anyone looking for similar results. Just contact me if you would like to hire me for your project.

Update September 24: added link to client site, changed wording in two sentences to clarify.

Share this on:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • email
About Erik Geurts - OpenX Source Specialist

Find out more about me on my profile page on Google+

Comments

  1. Having the zones named has another benefit: Usually ad codes for all zones of a publisher are requested. By naming zones this behavior changes and only the named zones are requested. If your CMS is very flexible you can dynamically generate this list of used zones and make delivery even faster. We implemented this for one of our sites where we have a separate zone set e.g. for the forum.

  2. WordPress gurus ContentRobot published a blog post about using the OpenX single page call invocation code in a WordPress blog, specifically when using the WP SuperCache add on to cache blog pages. I worked with Karen and Dana at ContentRobot to validate this approach and make sure that the OpenX ad server still shows ads at random even when the WordPress pages are cached.

Trackbacks

  1. […] update from OpenX, an open source ad server we use to run advertising. Version 2.6 features a single page call that greatly reduces load time and improves overall speed. We had help from OpenX consultant […]