One of things affiliates have to split test is page loading time. If you’re using a cheap ass server you will lose money and clicks and that’s why most people recommend a VPS to get started as a minimum requirement. But if you don’t haven’t tested a CDN or don’t know what a CDN is then keep reading because this is how I increased one campaign’s ROI by 200%.
There are different things you can split test to change the load time:
- Page size (Kbs)
- DNS Speed (ms)
- Server load time (kbs/s)
Page size is something most people overlook. If you’ve got a landing page that weights 400Kb and you manage to compress it and reduce the images/css down to 150Kb you’ll notice a difference. Especially if you’re running PPV/Pop/Redirect traffic.
What is a CDN?
A Content Delivery Network is a system of distributed servers that deliver web content to the users based on a geographic location. This means the content can be loaded on different servers around the world and thus show the information faster to the user both in response time and load time.
As you can see in the image above, the original idea is to distribute the content in dozens of servers around the world so it loads faster and it also helps keeps a server balanced in case you’ve got a ton a of traffic.
Split testing a CDN vs. my dedicated servers is something I do regularly and the reason I do it is because sometimes the CDN can outperform the VPS by a lot, depending on the location of the traffic I’m running.
For example, many servers are in the USA or in Europe. So if I run a campaign in the USA I know my dedicated will perform the same or sometimes a bit better than the CDN.
But what happens if I want to run traffic from Argentina? or South Africa? or Australia and India?
The visitor clicks the banner when he’s in India, then he’s routed through the DNS to my landing page hosted in the USA and then he clicks the button to the offer and goes back to another server hosted who knows where.
The response time could be enough for the impatient user to close their browser and surf somewhere else. But I’, still being charged for that click.
Originally the CDNs were being used to host heavy things like images, CSS, scripts and more, but because many times affiliates use simple landing pages (especially for mobile traffic) you can host the whole landing page in the CDN as long as it doesn’t use PHP.
Also, because the content is distributed in several servers it means the traffic is balanced instead of saturating just one server that could go down anytime while I’m sleeping and there goes a few hundreds or thousands from my wallet until I notice it.
Dedicated server receiving 1 million hits per day from all around the world
You get ( example):
USA Node receiving 300,000 visits, European node receiving 250,000 visits, China node receiving 150,000 visits, African node receiving 150,000 visits and Australian Node receiving 150,000 visits.
Everyone gets the content faster and you get more clicks/conversions = more profit from your traffic.
Plus, you know anything can go wrong with your VPS or dedicated anytime and you might not be able to fix it ASAP. While if a node goes down on a CDN (very unlikely) the traffic gets routed to the nearest working node.
Plus… you know… sharks eating the internet cables…
CDN vs. Dedicated tests
It all comes down to split testing. As I told you before, I usually launch my campaigns in a dedicated ($200 per month 4 cores Intel Xeon, 32GB RAM + SSD server) and then split test with the CDN to compare results.
Many times the difference isn’t noticeable. Especially in tier 1-2 countries. But I decided to write this post cause recently I launched a campaign in Vietnam and the difference was abysmal.
Check this out:
The first result is the CDN while the second is from my dedicated located in the USA.
Both received a fair amount of visits (23k each) but the CTR and the conversion difference was abysmal.
The CDN outperformed my dedicated by 1.5% in the CTR department and by 3.5% in the Conversion rate department. I got 76 conversions from the same traffic with the CDN and just 15 conversions with my dedicated.
I actually had to keep the dedicated running with less traffic for a couple days just to confirm this wasn’t a 1 day thing.
For me, this campaign I was testing was around -50% ROI and just with the CDN it went to almost 200% ROI. Crazy right?
Again, this doesn’t happen every time. Sometimes my dedicated is faster if it’s near the country where it’s hosted. But I don’t have a dedicated server in every country around the world.
If this isn’t enough to convince you to test a CDN, I don’t know what is.
What’s the best CDN and how much do you pay?
I won’t get into a battle here. I use Akamai’s CDN and I’ve been using it since the beginning. I never tested others because this one was one of the most recommended inside the STM forum.
Facebook uses Akamai. Just right click and open any image from your Facebook’s feed in a new window and you’ll see the URL.
But you can use whatever you want and split test. MaxCDN, CloudFare, Amazon, Akamai… I don’t care 🙂
As for how much it costs, most of them are pretty cheap actually. You pay a very low fare per bandwidth measured in TBs… and because our landings are very light you can send millions of visits per TB. I end up paying just a few dollars per month. Sometimes $20, sometimes $100, but I have never paid $500 or more as many would pay for a dedicated server.
Where’s my affiliate link for Akamai’s CDN? Nah. Google them and pick up whatever you want.
So if you’re running traffic from different countries far from your server you know what to do this weekend 😉
Always keep testing and learning. Talk to you on the next one.