Fast light mobile pages are better for readers and advertisers --  that's why we work hard to provide them

I’m John Ore, the head of product at Business Insider. I wanted to take a moment to discuss our product philosophy and highlight some of the recent work we’ve done to make our site and services better for you. Thanks very much for reading.

At Business Insider, as well as at our newer sites Tech Insider and INSIDER, our mission is to serve our readers and clients. Everything we do is in pursuit of creating a better experience for readers and clients every day.

We serve our readers by publishing stories that are smart, helpful, accurate, fast, fair, fearless, and fun. We provide most of our journalism for free, and we also offer subscriptions for our in-depth industry research and analysis. We fund our journalism by offering an enviable audience for our advertising clients.

Advertising has helped pay for journalism in many different media for more than a century. With the recent
rise of ad blocking across the digital industry, though, this model is facing a challenge.

Many people who use ad-blockers cite annoying ads, privacy concerns, mobile data usage, and slow page load speeds as justification for blocking ads. As voracious digital content consumers, we sympathize: Some publishers take an such an aggressive ad approach that they make the browsing experience expensive, annoying, and slow. On the other hand, creating great journalism and technology costs money. So we also sympathize with the need for publishers (and journalists) to create a healthy, sustainable business.

At Business insider, we believe we can serve both our readers and clients by creating high-performance services that allow us to generate the revenue we need to fund a global, world-class digital news organisation. That means fast, light, free pages with responsible ads and convenient subscription services.

We work hard on the performance side, and as a result our mobile sites load among the fastest in the industry.

The New York Times recently bench marked 50 news mobile web sites to see how quickly they loaded with and without ads. Here’s a snapshot of Business Insider’s mobile site among some of our peers:

BI Mobile Web Performance Competitive Analysis New York TimesDylan Roach/Business InsiderBusiness Insider loads faster than peers worldwide

Similarly, the creator of Crystal, a content blocker for Apple’s mobile operating system, benchmarked the load times of 10 mobile web sites with and without the Crystal app enabled:

BI Mobile Web Performance Competitive Analysis CrystalDylan Roach/Business InsiderBusiness Insider UK loads faster than peers worldwide

(It’s worth noting that Crystal’s creator charges for his ad blocker, because he, too,
understands the need to develop a sustainable revenue model.)

As you can see, Business Insider’s pages load faster than many of our peers on mobile, even with ads. They’re also lighter, so they use less mobile data.

Some of the explicit steps we’ve taken over the past several months alone to improve the speed in which our pages load include:

  • Overhauling our content delivery system to improve page load times by about 50% worldwide.
Fastly CDN Performance Improvements July 2015Fastly/Business InsiderPage load times improved dramatically with a new CDN
  • Avoiding obtrusive, heavy ads. We don’t serve interstitials between pages, pop ups, or auto-play videos (without warning) because we prize the reader experience.
  • Ensuring that content and ads load only when the reader scrolls that content into their browser’s viewable area (known as “post loading” or “lazy loading”). You can see this on our homepages or our longer stories.
  • Only loading images when the reader requests them, as when navigating through the Business Insider menu navigation.

Obviously, without advertising, publishers like Business Insider would not be able to provide journalism for free. With the rise of ad-blocking, therefore, we’ve seen examples of publisher responses that appeals to their sense of value and fair play, from the overt to the whimsical.

At some point, Business Insider will likely do the same, because we think many of our readers enjoy our free service. We also plan to offer a broader subscription option for those who prefer to pay us directly.

In the meantime, we will continue to work to improve our performance and speed.

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