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How Ads and Other Poorly Optimized Media Are Killing Websites, and What You Can Do About It

by Robert Moseley  |  
October 13, 2017

Images that are not fully optimized by size and weight (the number of bytes they use up) have a negative impact on website load times. Publishers, such as news websites, do not have control over the ads they serve, exacerbating the problem.

So, are banner ads and their ilk, including images, killing website readership?

Poorly optimized media results in lost revenue

If your website takes longer than four seconds to load, you've already lost one-quarter of your audience. That fact presents a conundrum for news websites reliant on advertising dollars—because ads (and other video and image content) are rarely optimized, leading to longer website load times and therefore a higher bounce rate. Even the best-performing news outlets from a media optimization standpoint can benefit from reducing the weight of media on their sites.

Although in this case we're looking specifically at news organizations, it's important to note that a lack of media optimization plagues more than just the news media. Website SEO rankings fall because of slow load times, and e-commerce websites lose money when their sites aren't fast enough.

At Cloudinary, we looked at a few popular news outlets to see whether there are any similarities among what they might need to optimize. The Website Speed Test we used measures image weight. The letter grades that each outlet received are based on how much the images on the site weighed vs. how much they can be optimized.

Images and video make up about 80% of most websites' page weight, according to HTTP Archive, so even small adjustments to media can help improve site performance.

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Robert Moseley is director of solutions engineering at Cloudinary and a technology expert with over a decade of experience in startups and large companies. He is an avid backpacker and Cloudinary's resident astronomer.

LinkedIn: Robert Moseley IV

Twitter: @RobMoseley

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