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Faster, Faster, and Faster Ad Tags

For the past few years we’ve provided publishers our proprietary page tag, which manages all the logic required to run ads on your site. However,managing page tags full of features often comes at the cost of increased page load times. When we first developed our page tag we used best practices at the time.Since then technology, such as hosting and CDNs have improved as well as web browsers.
For the last few months our publisher and engineering team, along with industry-leading experts have been working on updating the Gourmet Ads Ad Tags.

The goals were simple, load the tag as fast as possible, make it work with minimal or no changes to a publisher’s website, load the tags Deferred or Async and minimize the experience for end users. All of this while maximizing the revenue for a publisher.

As we embarked on this process, we quickly discovered some of the features could be developed, tested and deployed quickly behind the scenes without a major release, while others required us to make significant changes. Here is a bit of an insight to what we’ve developed and what we are continuing to work towards.

Deferred Loading

Our existing header script wasn’t running asynchronously, only your ad placements were.This was due to some of the processes that required us to run our header bidding auctions on page prior to our usual ad server and programmatic auctions. The new header script will now run asynchronously(deferred) along with your ad placements loading asynchronously, allowing the majority of your content to load before we render ads on the page. For most publishers who are already optimized, this will mean a full second or more saved in load time .

GZIP Compression

Mid-January we implemented GZIP Compression for all publishers. gzip is a file format and software application used for file compression and decompression. All modern web browsers support and automatically negotiate gzip compression for all HTTP requests. Enabling gzip for the page tag itself can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%.This can significantly reduce the amount of time to download the page tag itself, reducing data usage and improve the time to first render of your pages.

Migrating Prebid Server

Over the last 2 or so years, Gourmet Ads has been at the forefront of monetization using Prebid.js, aka Header Bidding. Very early in the testing of Prebid we built a robust build and compile library of client side Prebid adapters. Our original goal was to enable existing and new publishers to have an industry leading Prebid execution with the click of a few buttons. Our client side or in-browser solution was successful; adding for most publishers 7-10 Prebid demand partners. However, this came at cost and that cost was load times. Over time we tweaked our code and enabled a limit of seven client-side partners .

For the last six months we’ve been pushing Prebid partners to enable us for Prebid Server or Server2Server (S2S). Server2Server http requests are consolidated into a single request opposed to multiple requests, thus reducing operational overheads in the browser, resulting in an auction executed in the cloud vs on the page.
Each publisher is setup differently, but today a typical publisher will be running a maximum of seven client-side Prebid partners and another seven server- side. Our mid to long-term goal is to reduce the client-side requests to just three and have 20+ running server-side, maximizing each and every impression, while doing it with less page resources in the users web browser.

Similar to our early adoption of Prebid/Header Bidding, being first-to-market with Prebid Server2Server required significant testing.

Revised WordPress Plugin

A part of the overall project we were required to make changes to the WordPress Plugin. Please make sure to upgrade to the latest version 3.10, or greater, to take advantage of this breakthrough technology and faster loading ad tags.

Code Clean-up

Additionally, by making these updates we’ve taken a deep dive into our ad code.To clean up, we’ve had multiple sets of eyes look at the code, reordering, tweaking, and removing redundant logic. All these updates have helped make our Page Tag faster.

Publisher Optimization

Publisher optimization should be viewed through two lenses: Advertising Optimization,is your site fully optimized for maximum revenue gains? And On-Page Optimization, is your site setup for maximum user experience?

Advertising Optimization

To take full advantage of advertising optimization, our Optimize Page in Console is updated daily and helps to self-solve revenue-impacting issues. These range from correct implementation of ads.txt or a CMP to SSL issues and ad placement. We are constantly improving Optimize so make sure you check it out at least once per month. If you have issues with getting something solved, simply log a ticket with our team and we’ll do our best to help you solve the issue. You can check Optimize by going to this page in your console:

Publisher On-Page Optimization

As mentioned previously a huge goal of our tag update was increased load times. Now that we’ve made huge gains on the tag side, we encourage you to look site side.

After reviewing hundreds of sites in our networks we found the most common issue plaguing site load is the use of uncompressed images. We recommend no images larger than 1MB and total page load should come under 1.5MB.

If you are using WordPress you’ll find dozens of plugins that can be installed to address image compression. We like WP Smush.

To evaluate your site there are several tools available for publishers to pinpoint and troubleshoot page load issues.

We recommend the following three:
Google Page Speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Pingdom: https://tools.pingdom.com/

GTMetrix: https://gtmetrix.com

Additionally, all Gourmet Ads publishers have access to our customized Optimize tool in platform. Please check your site here.

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