Posts Tagged: internet

Finding the right CDN for SlashGear

It has been interesting and educational two months; I had the chance to use several major CDN services on SlashGear. Choosing the right CDN is a matter of pricing/budget, delivery technology or features and POP availability. The CDN vendors I had the opportunity to try are MaxCDN, InterNAP, Highwinds, Akamai, and EdgeCast.

MaxCDN has the best implementation of web based management console. I really enjoy using them and still do use them on R3 Media sites (SlashPhone and AndroidCommunity). The cache-hit number is pretty impressive at 96.62%. Unfortunately MaxCDN does not have presence in Asia where 12% of our traffic came from (95% for SlashGear Japan). Last I heard, they are planning POPs in Asia.

I don’t have many complainw on InterNAP, however they are not the fastest of bunch, but not the slowest either -routing sometimes does not provide the best route.. Pricing is pretty competitive.

HighWinds is a very affordable CDN vendor, unfortunately it rewrites files URL rather than sticking with predefined CNAME you have setup for the account. Great reporting tools (entirely made of Flash) and control panel.

Akamai is the big dog in CDN business; I was very excited when giving it a try. It has robust control panel, fast aggregation of content when setting up origin pull, and it has many POP around the world. Speed is impressive, however I was disappointed to find out it was not the fastest out of the bunch and pricing is amazingly high unless you commit to a high bandwidth bucket. If you don’t need much bandwidth you can try VPS.NET, they are Akamai reseller with reasonable price.

EdgeCast was one of the CDN I didn’t plan to include in my search for CDN vendor, but I’m glad I did. Sales were very accommodating and responsive. Setup was quick and simple, however I wish their management control panel would provide origin pull progress and detail reporting. They performed the best during my usage (Pulling data from Dallas, LA and Nagoya), almost 28 percent faster compared to InterNAP and 14 percent faster compared to Akamai. I was very surprised by the delivery speed on small object (has not tested video delivery yet – large file object). Pricing is very competitive and they will work it out depending on your situation and usage.

So by the end of the day, I picked EdgeCast CDN to power SlashGear.com, and SlashGear.jp due to its performance and pricing. However video files are still being serve-using HighWinds as part of UK2Group sponsorship.

Disclosure : MaxCDN sponsored SlashPhone & AndroidCommunity CDN bandwidth. UK2Group sponsored SlashGear TV videos bandwidth using HighWinds CDN.

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Internet Explorer 8 may complicate web advertising

Microsoft has just released the latest version of its popular web browser. Those who choose to download Internet Explorer 8 will enjoy several new measures that were designed to protect your privacy while you browse the web. These measures just might have a negative impact on web advertisers which rely on collecting data from web browsers.

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If you choose to turn on certain features of Internet Explorer 8 you can stop behavioral web advertisers from tracking your web usage. A number of people have recently expressed concerns about this type of web advertising and some have gone as far as to call for government regulation in the industry. With this new version of Internet Explorer 8, it might be possible to alleviate some of the growing pressure to regulate web advertising.

While many might be excited at the prospect of greater privacy while browsing the web, be prepared for a headache. Finding the privacy features and turning them on is no easy task. Web browsers should keep in mind that Microsoft engages in behavioral advertising as well. This might suggest it is not in the best interest of the software giant to make this an easy task for users.

For those of you that are frustrated by cookies, look out for a feature called InPrivate Browsing. When you activate this handy little feature you will be able to prevent these cookies from being placed onto your computer. These cookies are frequently the keystones of behavioral advertising.

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Meebo to implement advertising service on the web

There are many sites that have added the functionality of Meebo so that their users can take advantage of the chat service. This is great for sites like Flixster because their users are not forced to navigate away from the site if they want to chat online with another person. It now appears that Meebo will be adding some web advertisements to the handy interface by the end of the month.

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Users who take advantage of the chat feature will notice the appearance of banner advertisements. Once they click on the banner, a larger advertisement will appear on the screen which measures around 900 x 400 pixels in size. At the moment, the concept appears to be a good idea on behalf of Meebo although there is no clear indication as to the amount of money that the advertisements could bring in.

For those that choose to use Meebo’s chat service directly from their site, the banner advertisements may look a bit familiar. The company first implemented them there and after a successful experience they will be pushing the advertising service further.

Many people seem pleased with the advertising capabilities that Meebo is providing. Because a larger box appears when you click on the banner, there is more flexibility as to what advertisers can do with it. This means you could play a game in one of these boxes or watch a trailer for a new movie that is coming out. At the moment, advertisements on Meebo’s sites have about one percent of users clicking on the banners.

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SMBs become the target of local web advertisers

advertise2Local web advertising has proven to be a valuable market over that last few years. Their target was primarily larger businesses that helped this market grow at lightning fast speeds. That is until the recession began to set in and marketing budgets started to tighten. This has left many web advertisers looking for a new target market to tap into. The answer for many of these local web advertisers seems to lie with smaller businesses.

In the past, small and medium sized businesses proved to be wary of using the Internet for advertising. In many cases web advertising can prove to be a less expensive alternative to other forms of advertising such as print. As a result, many smaller businesses are now hurrying to advertise on the web.

Last year, these smaller companies spent nearly $7 billion on web advertising. It has been suggested that tapping into this lucrative market might not prove to be so easy. Gordon Borrell with Borrell Associates said “The point is that for everybody’s desire to get to those SMBs because they appear to be a pot of gold, it is a heck of a lot more complicated than that. It will require thought and stamina to corral them in a way that will provide sustainable income for a media company.”

One of the major issues with smaller businesses is that they typically spend a lot less on an individual basis when compared with much larger businesses. This presents a problem for web advertisers, as the amount of work that they must do is comparable between the two groups.

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Interactive marketing is still growing while online ads spending decline

Many smaller companies find it difficult to determine what makes the most sense in terms of advertising. As these companies all have a limited marketing budget, it is important that the money is spent in the best possible way to promote the company. A new report indicates that many smaller companies are spending their marketing budget on alternatives to web advertising. This could mean that a company invests some of their budget into improving their web presence overall.

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The report, which is named ‘Main Street Goes Interactive’, was generated by Borrell Associates. If its forecasts are accurate, five years from now spending on marketing that is not related to online advertising will reach over $1.6 billion. The report also suggested that some web advertising sectors will see much slower growth than they have in the past.

According to the report, “The blurring borders between what is advertising in the interactive world and what is not added to the shift of ‘non-ad’ marketing dollars. Businesses large and smaller–but especially smaller ones–don’t even try to make the distinction. To them, whatever they spend or do on the Web is advertising, whether it goes through an intermediary or not.”

The forms of online advertising that are popular today, such as the paid search advertisement, are expected to remain popular in the near future. There has been some speculation that banner ads may fall in popularity to more interactive forms of advertising like video.

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Email loses ground to social network websites

It was not long ago that email was the latest rage and everyone was using it. While it still remains extremely popular today, many people are using their email less frequently and turning to social media networks to keep in touch with friends and family instead.

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Nielsen Online conducted an interesting study which looked at how people across the globe are using the internet. The most popular function of the Internet is the basic search, which should be of little surprise. The study revealed that in 2008, nearly 86 per cent of those that use the internet are engaging in searches for information.

In a category called “Member Communities” which includes any blogging or networking related websites, the Nielsen Online study revealed that almost 67 per cent of people who use the internet take advantage of these types of services. This is an increase of 5.4 per cent from the previous year. This huge boost has allowed these types of services to overtake the popularity of email. According to the report, around 65 per cent of those who are online use email.

Nielsen Online broke down the results of their study in a particularly interesting fashion. They estimated that for every 11 minutes that are spent online, one of these minutes is spent on a website that falls into the Member Community category.

How exactly Nielsen Online arrived at these results will remain a mystery. The company is notorious for being secretive with regard to its tracking capabilities.

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Police turn to the internet for help

In a surprising effort to increase the crime fighting potential of police departments, several are joining social networking sites in an attempt to cross the traditional jurisdictional boundaries that exist. There are plenty of web 2.0 applications that the police are turning to including Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube. Some people might be surprised to learn just how successful this new tactic has become.

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In February a police department in Maine turned to Facebook after an act of vandalism was caught by a security camera. They posted the video and a number of the members on Facebook took notice. Within a short amount of time the identities of the vandals were uncovered and they were eventually arrested. With so many users of these social networking sites, it is easy to see why police departments would want to take advantage of this kind of publicity.

Of course there are some potential issues that police departments have to deal with. In the case of the Maine incident, police chose to blur the faces of the vandals to avoid any legal issues that might arise.

Seeing the potential of this type of publicity, several companies are beginning to develop web 2.0 tools designed specifically for this purpose. Many members of the law fighting community are encouraging this type of effort as well.

One service that will be available to police is called CrimeDex. It is being developed by a former police officer named Jim Hudson. He described the service as “the digital equivalent of the old-fashioned Western sheriffs nailing a wanted poster to a tree.”

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2000GB Server bandwidth – seems a lot yet so little

When I moved R3 Network to SoftLayer, we received 2000GB bandwidth allocation each server. We don’t use much of our public bandwidth on MySQL server as we connect to it using internal private IP, however I can’t say the same for our web server.

Based on last month usage (May), our web server has used up 1694.14GB of bandwidth. I never thought running seven blog sites would consume so much bandwidth. SlashGear.com alone uses average of 880GB of bandwidth monthly.

We reach around 1.6 million unique visitors monthly and that’s an increase of 45% from last year for the same month. Bandwidth usage from May last year was only 220GB that means the 45% visitor increase in traffic resulted in 770% in bandwidth usage increase (hope my math is right).

2000GB bandwidth/month used to mean a lot to me, but after seeing the usage number for this May, it looks fairly little. . Soon it will be time to get unmetered bandwidth servers, but I hate moving sites to different servers – it takes time to reconfigure the server the way I want it. I might look into moving our static files to Amazon S3 like we did with our videos.

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